A few years ago, I was on the hunt for information about how to make new friends. Events had conspired in my life to leave me feeling like I didn’t have a buddy to hang out with, no one to call to meet for a quick dinner or movie. In that quest, the seed for Project BFF was planted.
I’m a classic introvert – too much time in crowds exhausts me, I enjoy spending time alone and, in fact, find my energy restored with solitary activities. I enjoy being with people I know and love and am a really good networker at work events. It’s just that spending a lot of time with people can leave me feeling drained. Parties tend to be short for me, no matter how much fun I’m having. If I’m not the first one to leave, I’m usually not far behind. Or you’ll find me next to the food table, snacking alone. And perfectly happy to do so.
You might think that means it can be hard to make friends and at times that’s true. But over time I’ve found the right people and I’m blessed with a cadre of wonderful friends who’ve been in my life for years. To paraphrase Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, they would walk into traffic for me. And they have, metaphorically speaking. I would walk into traffic for them, too, which I hope they know.
As life happens, many of us have moved apart. We live in different cities, requiring plane or train travel to reach. Family and work obligations keep us physically apart in our daily lives. Emails, texts, and long phone calls mean we’re never far apart. And gosh do we have fun when we’re together.
So, I knew I could make friends. And I knew I could find some good people out there to be part of my life. But it wasn’t happening. I’d do all the things I knew to make friends – take classes, participate in activities I like, volunteer, talk to people, reach out to make plans, etc. All the things that have worked in the past. Yet, they weren’t working so well.
It turns out that after we reach a certain age, it can be harder to meet people. Many people have their routines, existing friend groups, and families and aren’t interesting in expanding their networks. Other people may be interested in becoming friends, but don’t know how or where to meet people. Others have demanding jobs or life situations that mean they just can’t take the time, no matter how interested they may be. Some people are introverts and struggle to balance the need to be alone with the need to have friends. Some are shy about talking to new people. Whatever the reason, it can be hard to add new friends to your life.
So, I started researching friendships. What are they? How do we make them? What do we need to do to keep them? Why can it feel so hard for some people to make friends? The more I did research, the more annoyed I got at how hard it was to find the information I was looking for. Search engines are great resources. (Though the librarian in me still feels they’re a workaround to a terrible, but understandable, decision someone made about how the internet would work to not include a standard way of classifying and categorizing content. But that’s another story.) I realized I was looking for a content hub – a place all about friendships. For women. (I know the men we love have many of these same issues; I’m starting with what I know best.) So, I decided to create the website and resource I’d been looking for.
Realizing that it would be a lot of work on my own, and that it would be ironic to create a resource for friends all by myself, I thought about who I knew who might be interested in joining the journey.
Enter Terri. We met many years ago, as part of a professional organization. Even after we both let our memberships lapse, we’d meet for lunch every few months. At one of those lunches, as I sat across from her at a café and she asked me what was going on in my life, I was hit by the feeling that she’d be the perfect person to be part of this project. I was thrilled when she said she was interested and started asking all sorts of questions. And the rest is, as they say, history.
Photo by Nicole O’Neil