MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend

When Rachel Bertsche first moves to Chicago, she’s thrilled to finally share a zip code with her boyfriend. But shortly after getting married, she realizes that her new life is missing one thing: friends. Sure, she has plenty of BFFs—in New York and San Francisco and Boston and Washington, D.C. Still, in her adopted hometown, there’s no one to call at the last minute for g...

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Title:MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend
Author:Rachel Bertsche
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Edition Language:English

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend Reviews

  • Rach

    It's official. Though I have a strange aversion to having friends with the same name as me, Rachel Bertsche could be my new BFF. Or one of them, that is. If we lived in the same town. And if she knew who I was. And it's not only because I found Rachel's thoughts on friendship to be thoughtful and relevant, but that while reading her words, it felt like we would "click," that if we were sitting and having a conversation, on a girl-date or something, we wouldn't be lost for things to talk about. W

    It's official. Though I have a strange aversion to having friends with the same name as me, Rachel Bertsche could be my new BFF. Or one of them, that is. If we lived in the same town. And if she knew who I was. And it's not only because I found Rachel's thoughts on friendship to be thoughtful and relevant, but that while reading her words, it felt like we would "click," that if we were sitting and having a conversation, on a girl-date or something, we wouldn't be lost for things to talk about. We seem to have quite a bit in common, not least of all our propensity to read EW cover to cover and our tv-watching obsessions. On the slightly-less-positive side, I also tend to experience frenvy every once in a while, and have a tendency to story interrupt. Trust me, I'm working on that stuff. But putting aside the girl-crush I now have on Rachel, her book really resonated with me. More than just a how-to for finding friends, it's really all about how to be a kind, generous person, how to be a good friend to everyone from current BFFs to new acquaintances, and how to become closer to the people around you, enhancing the happiness level of all around. I will gladly talk this book up to anyone, and have already made my mom buy it for the joint Kindle account she and my sisters and I share, because I feel it was that insightful to me.

    I am far from a perfect friend. I like to think I am a good listener, but I am spectacularly bad at staying in touch with people and following up with how their lives are. It's not that I don't care: when I run into friends I haven't seen in a while I am genuinely pleased to see them, and when someone emails me about getting together, I am happy to meet them wherever they'd like. I just have a hard time being the one who reaches out, who suggests the girl-date. Maybe it's because I'm afraid they don't want to see me? I'm not too sure, but that's something I definitely want to improve on, and feel inspired to do after reading Rachel's book. I want to be the kind of friend I would love to have, someone who calls or texts just to say hi, someone who is persistent about making sure we see each other every so often. I want to make sure my friends know that I value them, and if I have to leave my house more often, and watch less tv, and be busier than I might like to do it, I will.

    Like Rachel, I had a time in my life where I felt really alone and friendless. I had just graduated from my small liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania and moved back home to the Seattle area, where I had grown up and most of my family still lived. I still had a few old friends that lived in the area, but to be honest, I was never that great at staying in touch with people, and the 4 years I had spent on either another coast or in another country had isolated me from the people I used to spend time with. The people I had become close with during college were good friends, but most of them stayed on the east coast, with one lone friend, my closest, returning to her hometown of Denver.

    Add to that the fact that I was painfully shy around strangers, and you have a girl that spent most of her time either holed up at home with her parents, reading and watching tv, or tagging along after her old sisters. I tried to get involved in activities, succeeded in making some friends through church, became closer with girls who had been merely acquaintances when I was in high school, but I never really felt like I belonged, like I was a unique person that other people would be interested in getting to know. I slowly opened up to those around me, but I still felt like I was living on the fringes of groups, instead of really belonging anywhere. Obviously, I had massive self-esteem issues, and I'm sure that's something I'll struggle with all of my life.

    Then, suddenly, things changed. When I was about 26, I decided I was done feeling sorry for myself. If I didn't like my life, I was going to change it. I had always been interested in photography, but I finally got myself a nice DSLR. I joined a photo sharing community called Flickr, and started a daily self-portrait project called 365. About 4 months into my project, when I had made quite a few friends through the 365 group, I decided it wasn't enough to have online friends commenting on my photos, I needed to make some friends that I could hang out with in real life. I found a photography meet-up group that was based in Seattle and, after stalking the group's site for a few weeks, finally started going to a few events. Don't get me wrong: it's not like I was suddenly a confident, self-assured person. I was still nervous, and awkward, and barely made it through my first few meet-ups. I went to a small photostroll in May of 2007, leaving right after. The next month, I went to a hang-out-and-chat event, where I met a lot of people, many of whom seemed to be good friends already, but were all open and friendly to newcomers. What helped me along the most, though, was that I had something in common with these people: we all loved to take pictures. At different group events, I would gravitate to the people with whom I had the best connection, getting to know them better and becoming more comfortable around them, until one day, we were just hanging out, no official group meeting necessary. There are some people with whom I have a very specific Friendaversary: we met on a specific day, and were instantly friends, right off the bat. But for most of the people I met through flickr, and the secondary friends I met through the first initial group, the day we actually became friends is kind of unclear, because it evolved so fluidly. By September of 2007, I definitely had new friends, even if they weren't at the call-anytime stage quite yet. I'd been to their houses, laughed uproariously with them, and shared in-jokes. I felt like I belonged. Much has changed in the 5 years since I had my friendship epiphany. I still love taking photos, though I don't take nearly as many as I did back then. I haven't been to a meet-up outing in several years, but I still maintain a few dozen friendships of varying degrees with people I initially met back them. Some of them have become my closest friends, the ones I know will support me no matter what.

    This book has not only inspired me to be a better friend, and to generally friendlier to people around me, but has also changed the way I think about friendships in general. I always thought, "I should have one friend who is closer to me than anyone else, who can be The Person whenever I need someone for anything." And I never really had that ONE person, which made me feel incomplete somehow, that maybe I was this strange person that no one would ever want as their Best Friend. But what Rachel comes to realize, and what she made me realize as well, as there is never just one person who can be the be-all-end-all for you. It takes all kinds of friends to make a happy, full life, and you can have multiple "best friends" who fill different roles in your life. I can't tell you now how this is going to change my life, because I'm not a psychic. What I can tell you is this: I plan on treasuring the friends I have, building our friendships with laughter and love.

    PS, I might have to track Rachel down. I'm not a stalker, don't worry. Or, at least I'm a harmless one, right? I have people to vouch for me. :)

  • Amy

    I strongly suspect the author was looking for a hook for a book idea more than she was desperately seeking a BFF. Strongly.

    In her new (old: college town) city of Chicago she had not only her husband, mother, and extended family including cousins she was social with, but four work friends she ate lunch with "every day" and friends through her husband that they went out with every few weeks. Whaaaat? Thats not the lonely life, my friend. You may *want* more friends, but you are busy on a regular b

    I strongly suspect the author was looking for a hook for a book idea more than she was desperately seeking a BFF. Strongly.

    In her new (old: college town) city of Chicago she had not only her husband, mother, and extended family including cousins she was social with, but four work friends she ate lunch with "every day" and friends through her husband that they went out with every few weeks. Whaaaat? Thats not the lonely life, my friend. You may *want* more friends, but you are busy on a regular basis, not *desperate* for companionship. I hope. So I very much wanted a stronger (read: plausible) spin for this story's publication--and my reading it.

    Her most offputting argument for her need of a bff was that although she alarmingly ran every single little thing possible (food choices, hair and style choices, pasttime choices, etc.) by her work or long-distance actual bffs via text/phone/email before taking action, a la a 12-year-old girl--truly, I wanted to bang my head against the wall over this--she needed someone she could go to brunch with. Spoiler alert: she's already going to brunch regularly with combinations of the many beloved friends and family members above, according to her.

    The interspersed studies and stats about friendship were jarring but ultimately skimmable.

    Lots of negatives. And YET. Something about the various adventures she purposely goes on and her "say yes" attitude and its results was extremely compelling. I really became invested in the search and the story and blew through this. The exploration of what make up a friendship and what affects compatibility was really fun.

  • Kitty Frye

    I think this might have made a good essay but when Rachel decided to go on 52 "friend dates" in an effort to find a new BFF, I don't think she needed to describe each one in detail. I gave up after the first dozen and felt like I probably wasn't missing anything life changing in the rest of the book. For one thing, I couldn't relate to her at all. She has every evening and weekend free to eat sushi and do yoga with potential BFFs. For me, I struggle to find an hour for myself and when I do I act

    I think this might have made a good essay but when Rachel decided to go on 52 "friend dates" in an effort to find a new BFF, I don't think she needed to describe each one in detail. I gave up after the first dozen and felt like I probably wasn't missing anything life changing in the rest of the book. For one thing, I couldn't relate to her at all. She has every evening and weekend free to eat sushi and do yoga with potential BFFs. For me, I struggle to find an hour for myself and when I do I actually like hanging out with my hubby, something that didn't seem too important to her. Even though I couldn't identify with her the story may have been interesting if I could have had even a little sympathy for her. She's happily married, has strong lifetime friendships (even though they may be far away), gets along great with a group of coworkers, and is outgoing enough to come up with a new friend date every week. What's she complaining about? Now a quest to find a friend written by a genuinely lonely, introverted person... THAT would be interesting.

  • Emma Sea

    The book left me cold. This is one of those 'turn-my-blog-into-a-best-seller' books. The author worked in publishing, and it's pretty clear she thought this project up as a stepping-stone to getting a book deal, rather than something she did out of genuine passion, which just happened to take off.

    I thought I'd enjoy this from an ethnographic pov. The author is an NY private school, summer camp, sorority-joining kind of woman, and I am not. Sadly the novelty wore off pretty quickly, and I skimme

    The book left me cold. This is one of those 'turn-my-blog-into-a-best-seller' books. The author worked in publishing, and it's pretty clear she thought this project up as a stepping-stone to getting a book deal, rather than something she did out of genuine passion, which just happened to take off.

    I thought I'd enjoy this from an ethnographic pov. The author is an NY private school, summer camp, sorority-joining kind of woman, and I am not. Sadly the novelty wore off pretty quickly, and I skimmed a lot of the book.

    What really got my goat was that Bertsche makes these gross generalisations that women want

    out of friendship, and men want

    , completely different, thing. In the same book that she mentions a gay male BFF. QED gay men are not men??

    Apparently all women need:

    (p. xiv)

    Try to

    your potential purchases with me and I'll snag that bottle of Pinot Gris and decamp to find someone who doesn't obsess over consumer items.

    She needs a friend because:

    As I don't do GIFs please bring to mind a suitable mental picture of your own choice here.

    She's a grown women who, in all seriousness, states,

    (p. 227)

    The most interesting person in the book was the guy she yukked at incredulously, who asked a date, "If Europe were an animal, what animal would it be." That beats the minutiae of BCBG handbags any day.

    Some of the aspects of Bertsche's project were fun to read about, in that they represent the social cues and rules of a very particular subculture. A coworker and potential new friend texts her, "

    ."

    Bertsche's reaction:

    Instead, she makes up errands she has to do first, that "

    ."

    Bertsche does make lots of good points about making friends as an adult: accept invitations, try new activities, engage in conversation if someone else initiates it, etc. But clearly I'm not the kind of woman she'd want to be friends with. I'm completely OK with that :)

  • Catherine

    I'm sorry. I cannot take one more "I'm so bored with my pampered little life that I'm going to do ________ for a year and journal about it even though I can't write my way out of a paper bag some idiot will publish it and I'll laugh all the way to the bank."

    On second thought, please look for my upcoming book entitled "My Year of Trying to Pimp a Book: How I wrote a book in a week, pretended it took a year and chronicled every last minutiae of detail regarding my boring-ass, spoiled suburban life

    I'm sorry. I cannot take one more "I'm so bored with my pampered little life that I'm going to do ________ for a year and journal about it even though I can't write my way out of a paper bag some idiot will publish it and I'll laugh all the way to the bank."

    On second thought, please look for my upcoming book entitled "My Year of Trying to Pimp a Book: How I wrote a book in a week, pretended it took a year and chronicled every last minutiae of detail regarding my boring-ass, spoiled suburban life. "

    Be sure to buy two.

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