I have the best best-friends in the history of time and space.
The thing is, my best friends live 3, 6, 7, and 11 hours away. None of us reside in the same state. Which is a real drag when you want someone to come sip wine and watch The Walking Dead after the kids go to sleep.
In the last calendar year, every single one of my best friends has showed up for me. They’ve called. They’ve booked flights. They’ve loaded up vans full of furniture and redecorated my house. They’ve folded laundry, FacedTimed, and mailed Target gift cards. They’ve sent clothes, cookies, and gifts for my kids. They are remarkable humans, and proof that love and friendship are not constrained by miles.
But. When I moved to Raleigh, I knew that I was going to need people up close.
No matter how great my four forever-friends are, I knew I would always be lonely if I didn’t have someone in my living room every once in a while. I knew I needed someone with whom I could have Easter dinner. Go to the pool. Eat Mexican food. Call in the middle of the night when ‘ISH GOES DOWN. You know, the usual.
It is great fortune to have people. It is greater when you and your people share a zip code. We need people up close.
So in the middle of 2014, I decided to go find some people. Because here’s what I’ve learned:
The best ways I know to build it are to say yes, show up, and tell the truth.
When someone invites you to dinner, say yes.
When someone needs a favor, show up.
When someone asks you how you’re doing, tell the truth.
This is actually hard work and requires a great deal of bravery. Vulnerability is implicit in the process. But if you keep doing these things for long enough, you will look up one day to find yourself surrounded by people you really like, and who like you right back.
When I moved to Raleigh, I said “Yes” to visiting a group of friends that met every Monday night. After I’d been there a handful of times, they asked me how I was doing. I told the truth. And no matter how tired, or busy, or weary I was, I kept showing up.
One year later, I have had Easter dinner with these people. We’ve gone to the pool together. We’ve eaten (a lot) of Mexican food. We’ve sipped wine after the kids went to bed. I’ve called them in the middle of the night when ‘ish went down.
They are my people up close, and they are one of the greatest blessings in my life.
Now. Do you have people up close? Because I think that if we were asked to describe ourselves - and we were painfully honest - the word “lonely” would appear higher and more often on that list than we’d like. I think that in 2015 we sit in the same rooms, at the same parks, in the same churches, and are lonely together.
If this is you, I have great news. You can trick people into being friends with you! Just say yes to lunch/drinks/dinner/small group on Monday night. Even if it feels a little awkward. Then when one of them needs a friend, show up. Bring a meal. Drive-thru is fine. And if a potential friend asks you how you’re doing, fight your self-preservation urge to impress them and tell the damn truth. Just keep doing these things and people won’t even know what hit them!
Thoughtfulness begets thoughtfulness.
Vulnerability begets vulnerability.
Kindness begets kindness.
Say yes. Show up for people. Tell the truth. Because we all need people up close.