Book Note: MWF Seeking BFF
Rachel Bertsche is a Chicago transplant. Having moved to the Windy City from NYC to be with her now husband, she finds that she's missing an important element to happiness. A local BFF. Determined to change this, she sets out on a year-long experiment, in search of her new best friend. Each week, for 52 weeks, she will meet a new person in hopes of overcoming the challenges of making friends as an adult.
In MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, Bertsche takes us along on each friend-date, as well as the follow-ups. She also explores her relationships to her long-distance, lifer friends that she left behind in New York. Her search begins with introductions from current friends and leads to joining an improv class and renting a friend for the day.
MWF Seeking BFF is humorous and insightful; at least once, we reach the middle of the book. In the beginning, Bertsche comes off as a bit self-centered and selfish. Focused on her goal, she is almost single-minded thoughtlessness. But has she begins to meet more and more women, to experience rejections and disappointment, and question her own skills as a friend, we start to see what it takes to create and grow true friendships. Sprinkled throughout her memoir are conversations with experts on friendship and loneliness. These ad scientifically-validated ideas on what sparks friendships and what sustains them.
With each encounter, Bertsche, who considers herself friendly but uncomfortable with strangers, grows more willing to engage in conversations. Along the way, she discovers that people are far more open to connecting to others than our earbud-wearing/screen-reading culture would have us believe. In reality, we all want good friends and to be a good friend.
At times, Bertsche's writing drags and I felt the need to skim certain potential friend encounters. While she admits to having lived a homogeneous life, the way in which she described her thoughts on making friends with gays and people of color felt very privileged. But the book encouraged me to strengthen the important friendships in my life, to examine my own role as a friend, and to start opening myself up to opportunities to connect with strangers and acquaintances.
- One of the best ways to elevate a friend to best friend is to be adventurous together. Try something new, do something silly. Instead of going for coffee, go roller skating or take a rock climbing class.
- Be aware of what you want out of your friendships and what qualities you are looking for in a friend
- Take stock on your own friendship shortcomings and be conscious when these behaviors show up
- Realize that adult friendships are not the same, nor can they be the same, as the friendships you had in elementary school or even college. Life throws in far more obstacles to friendships once you are a grown-up.
- Be willing to look outside the box. Some people will surprise you, so don't judge their friend potential too quickly.
"Sometimes it takes talking about everything to get to the place where we can talk about nothing."
"The world's most popular social networking site was never intended to foster new connections."
"If I want a friendship to happen, especially in the early stages, I have to do the work."