Ferociously Observant

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. -Anon.

Making New Friends 8 July 2008

Filed under: Ponderings — ferociouskater @ 2:54 pm

Sunday night, Tom and I went to Lawn Chair Film Festival, which is one of my favorite parts of summer. This week’s movie was a French film, My Best Friend, about François who has no friends, no potential friends, and no ability to make new friends. He is emotionally cut off from everyone, including his daughter. In a Taming of the Shrew plotline, he has to prove he has at least one friend, one best friend, or lose a valuable vase he has won at auction.
The plotline is very predictable, with only a few cute little twists and turns here and there. But the storyline wasn’t what made me think long after the credits had rolled. It was this notion, this idea that we make friends almost seamlessly but when faced with the task of breaking down this mechanism, we are stumped. It isn’t until we are faced with the process of having to make new friends that we sit back and think about it.
How soon after we start making regular plans with someone do we start calling him or her a friend? And what is it that makes us start using this label instead of “co-worker,” “acquaintance,” “neighbor,” etc.? It wasn’t until our best friends moved away that I realized that because they were always around I didn’t bother meeting too many others. Now that they are gone, I am forced to branch out. But, like François, I find myself a little stumped.
I never thought of myself as a shy person, but in this arena I am. I have always had a bit of an anxiety about inviting new people out to do things. I’m sure it has something to do with a fear of rejection. Even as a little kid I hated to hear my friends say that they couldn’t come over. So I tended to wait for them to call me, which made for a lot of lonely days and later, in high school, weekends. It’s disconcerting to think that I’ve carried this fear throughout the years to adulthood, and wonder if sticking my neck out there more will help me get over it. I miss my friends but in a way, I’m sort of glad that I’m being forced to face this.
Thankfully, unlike François, I’m generally liked. And also unlike him, I have no problem striking up conversations with strangers. I just have to make the first move afterwards, and call if they give me their number. Or, if they don’t, ask for it. And I should probably be practicing this skill now, while I’m still surrounded by familiarity, rather than trying to hone it cold turkey once I get to Boston. So hopefully, throughout the next couple weeks, I will be uncharacteristically boisterous with calling people to do things. So if I call you and you really can’t go out with me, please break it to me nicely.

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