How to Make Friends

I’ve been wanting to read Rachel Bertsche’s book MWF Seeking BFF now for awhile. For one thing, my book club chose it several months ago (while I was still in China), and when I read the synopsis, it sounded unlike anything I’d heard before. It’s a non-fiction book about a girl (about my age) who moves to Chicago to be with her boyfriend, and then realizes that now all of her college friends and former BFFs (“best friend forever”s) are many states away, and she has no one to call to put in a little face-time. Because she knows very few people in Chicago, she starts a year-long aggressive friend search, “asking out” girls in the store, at restaurants, at friend speed-dating venues, and even places a BFF want-ad of sorts on her blog. It’s just the sort of situation that I’ve found myself in after moving away from all of my friends in Tallahassee, and her aggressive friend search is just the sort of challenge that I should also rise to (if I’m brave enough). She comes from a place that I can relate to as well, because she’s not one of those people who usually chats up other customers in the grocery store line. She generally keeps to herself, and tries to wait for friends to magically come to her….but that tactic simply doesn’t work (don’t I know it!). She actually does a lot of research about how to forge connections with people and the different health benefits of having a close group of friends to rely on, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from her arduous studies. The most important thing that I took away from her book is that if I want to make friends, I’m going to have to get a lot more bold about putting myself in situations where I can meet new people, and “asking out” girls who I think might be potential friends. It’s a little bit scary, but unless I want to sit at home in my pajamas every night, watching The Voice, it’s something I need to do.

It seems almost serendipitous that I didn’t read Bertsche’s book until now, right after I’ve made a move and suddenly find myself friendless in Pittsburgh. The other thing that really intrigues me about her is that she is a real-life success story of a blogger-turned-bestselling-published-author. It’s true, she had worked for different magazines before and had articles printed in different high-profile editorials, but this is her first actual book, and it started as an idea that she was blogging about. In fact, after finishing the last page of MWF, I immediately went to check out her blog on WordPress and saw that she is still writing posts about friendship, and many of her loyal fans are begging her for a MWF sequel.

So, she is basically my hero.

And what better time than now, while I’m unemployed and haven’t yet started grad school, to follow in her footsteps and get to work on turning my China blog into a book? I’ve actually been doing a lot of research lately about the process of trying to get published, but that’s for another post.

Back to what I was saying about the friend search…in her book, Bertsche mentions using a website called MeetUp.com to find events to attend where she could find potential friends. After reading about it, I put my book down and logged onto the site. I was worried that MeetUp was for Chicago only, but I found that Pittsburgh has its own network as well. They have everything from people who participate in extreme sports to people who like going to wine tastings…just about any random interest you might have, there’s a MeetUp group for you. Of course, I immediately started perusing the different book club groups in town.

MeetUp lists several different types of book clubs in Pittsburgh, and once you choose which one you like, they are broken down into even smaller groups according to different areas around town where they meet. I took a look at the “Non-Boring Books in the Burgh” and found that, ironically, their reading list looks incredibly boring (to me, at least). I mean, who actually reads Kafka for fun in their spare time? “Pittsburghers Who Love To Read” is currently working on a Jeffery Eugenides tome since the author plans to come to town this month to give a lecture at Carnegie Music Hall. A quick Google search on Jeffery Eugenides reveals that he is the author of The Virgin Suicides and the recently released Middlesex, and both books look to be a little outside my comfort zone. I don’t like reading books that are guaranteed to leave me feeling disturbed long after I finish the final page. So, a hearty “no thanks” to that group. Finally, I found “The Pittsburgh Chick Lit Book Club,” whose reading list is definitely more to my taste. This month we’re reading How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue, and we’re going to meet on Friday, October 17th.

And yes, the idea that I’m going to drive downtown by myself to the Crazy Mocha Coffee Company to sit and talk with a handful of girls who I’ve never met before freaks me out. Not in the they-may-be-potential-serial-killers way, but the I-may-be-incredibly-awkward-and-have-nothing-intelligent-to-say variety. But Rachel Bertsche confirms that when you have no friends in your new town, attending events like this is one of the best ways to meet people. And if I meet a girl in the group who seems very friend-worthy, I need to be bold enough to exchange email addresses or phone numbers with her and suggest that we grab coffee or dinner sometime.

After all, every friend starts out as a stranger. 😀

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Categories: Friendship, Pittsburgh | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “How to Make Friends

  1. Megan

    Rachel! I can’t wait to hear how your first meeting goes!!

    • Thanks, Megan! But until I make a giant group of Pittsburgh friends, let’s keep doing conference calls during Revenge on Sunday nights. 😉 (What am I saying? Let’s keep doing them even after I make new friends, too!)

  2. Ashley B.

    I had a co-worker that met people using that website when she moved to Oklahoma! Hope it goes well. You will do great at the book club.

  3. You’ve inspired me. While I have a good set of friends in Chicago (some even from home! if you remember Chelsa and Stephanie, they’re both up here…) I want to join a book club so I think I may try the MeetUp 🙂

    Best of luck! And I’m sure you’ll make friends in grad school too!

    • I’m glad I inspired you, Tammy! There are some other cool websites she mentioned in the book that were only for people in the Chicago area. One of them was GrubWithUs.com–you try out a new restaurant with a bunch of people (but you’re welcome to bring your own friends as well), and they bring you a huge sampling of dishes from the menu that you all share. You pay some sort of entry fee to get in, but it sounds interesting. It may be more for trying new restaurants than meeting new people, though.

  4. Wow this sounds like a great book for me too. I have lived in my city for 3 years now but all of my friends have just finished university and moved away. I find myself needing to go “BFF-hunting” (perhaps that’s the wrong phrase, makes me sound like a serial killer!) again. I have to use a wheelchair and have a carer with me so I find making friends difficult, a lot of people are put off by that, so I know I’m going to have to be the one to strike up conversation, but it’s just so scary!

    Katie x

    • Hi Katie! “BFF-hunting” is probably a better phrase than “friend-dating,” which creeps out my husband whenever I say it. Maybe just “friending?” 🙂 I wonder if there’s a place where you can meet other people with similar mobility issues? Then you would at least have that in common and they wouldn’t be “put off” by it. It’s a shame that people are like that! If you live in Pittsburgh, I will gladly be your friend! 😀

  5. Oooh this is on my to-read list! You make me even more excited to read it! One great thing about living in the South is that churches are full of young people in our stage of life. So nearly all our best friends go to church with us. I mean, we have friends who go to other churches and some who don’t go to church at all, but I will admit that meeting people isn’t difficult to do here. Every time we go north to visit Christopher’s family and we attend a church of 50 people I am thankful again for our thriving home congregation here. 🙂 I hope the book club meeting goes GREAT!

    • Hey Rach! Church IS a great place to meet people. We have been church-hopping for the last few weeks, and I’ve been specifically searching for churches that have small groups that meet during the week. Maybe it’s too picky, but the first church we visited didn’t do small groups, and it was a deal-breaker for me. We think we may have found our new church home and we’ve met a few really nice people our age that may be potential BFFs! I’ll be blogging about that soon!

  6. Go for it! And then tell us all about it 🙂 I often wish some of my blogging friends lived in the UK so we could all meet up!

    • racheldeangelis

      I will definitely keep you posted on the friend-making process. It may be a little awkward since I’m connecting with new friends on Facebook and there’s a link to my blog on my Facebook page where I’m writing ABOUT THEM…haha. But if I don’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all, right? 😉

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