Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: MWF Seeking BFF

In MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, Rachel Bertsche writes of her difficulty in a new city (Chicago) without the friend base that she had always enjoyed back in New York. Of course, this book jumped out at me from the moment I heard about it, because I have experienced similar difficulties. Coming from a Chicago suburb (of sorts), I have found it very difficult to find even a friend here, let alone a best friend. Indeed, it was somewhat depressing reading the book because I kept thinking to myself, "Sister, if you think you've got it bad, you should be in your forties, in a town the size of a peanut, with small children to care for all day and no nearby family to lean on for child care."

Yes, Rachel's life is different than mine. She has a job. She lives in a vibrant, pulsing-with-life city. She is still quite young and untethered with wee ones. But, I should also say that Rachel IS different. Instead of just whining about her circumstances (she admits she did this for a while), she made a concerted, year-long effort to remedy the problem. She seized the bull by the horns, so to speak.

The book is full of all sorts of friendship facts (like the depressing statistics for declining health in the absence of a good friend base), quotes and insights. Of course, it is all woven around the story of her pursuit. She tried things I might not have been willing to try (like hiring a friend - hmm, not surprised that one didn't work out) and she shamelessly plugged her mission to fill her life with more and better friends.

I agree with her assessment that we women tend to feel ashamed to admit that we lack friends for fear of appearing to be a "loser" of sorts. I'm a pretty outgoing individual and it blows my mind that I could have lived anywhere for over five years and still not even have the name of a person to put on my kids' school forms for an emergency contact. Thankfully, we've had no emergencies because it would take an hour and a half for my mother-in-law (contact) to make it over here if I couldn't be reached. It would definitely be more healthy for all of us, if I were to make a friend.

Interestingly enough, just as I began reading this book, I received the first possible random extension of possible friendship. Like Rachel, I posted a profile on Girlfriends Social, a free social networking site that claims to assist in the matchmaking business. Sadly, for two years now, I've had not a single bite (in the form of a friendly note saying perhaps we should meet up). But, Rachel's book must be working some magic because I received a note from a woman who actually sounds normal and interesting and a mother-of-boys and even lives close enough that we could meet up with less than a half hour of travel time. Like Rachel, I'm feeling small glimmers of hope. Perhaps, we will form a bond and become friends.

What I did find hard to deal with was the terminology she used in the book, referring to the outings as girl-dates, etc. It wasn't that I don't see similarities to pursuing friendship and pursuing romance, but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

All in all, though, it was an interesting book and fun to eavesdrop on her process of making more friends. I obviously felt connected because I internally cheered when she located the wonderful friendship of Jillian (a real keeper). It gave me more courage to go out and pursue friendship and that's a good thing. It even took away some of the shame of admitting that I've lived somewhere for half a decade and still haven't located a single friend. (What would I do without my virtual friends in bloggy-land?) Thus, I give it two thumbs up.

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