Ask Rachel Bertsche - Tuesday, April 9th! discussion

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Ask Rachel!

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message 1: by Margo (new)

Margo (maothrockmorton) | 3 comments Mod
Welcome to the group! Rachel will be answering questions on Tuesday, April 9th! . In the meantime if you have a question for Rachel or just want to introduce yourself feel free to do so in this thread.


message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura Grow-Nyberg | 2 comments Hi, Rachel! I know it's awfully early, but I wanted to ask my question before I forgot it!

I'm an introvert (and just recently read Quiet by Susan Cain), and I'm wondering how you would suggest tailoring a friendship hunt. I work at a very extrovert-based company, and in my downtime my instinct is to spend time with no more than a few low-stakes people. How do you meet and befriend new people when you only have a limited ability to be "on"?

Thanks!


message 3: by Emily (last edited Apr 02, 2013 06:55PM) (new)

Emily Myhren | 2 comments Hi Rachel! I read your book over the summer. How have your friendships developed since the book has been published? Have you made more local friends? Are you still maintaining your long distance friendships?


message 4: by Karen (new)

Karen (booksnooks) Hi Rachel! I was your author escort at last year's lit fest and I am wondering what your favorite thing to do solo in the city is so far. My favorite is Mac N' Cheese but I'm curious what you love the most!


message 5: by Angela (new)

Angela (alegnakthereader) Hi Rachel! I really enjoyed listening to your book. Lots of good stuff.

My question is, your "study" is in NYC, a place with a lot of people. Even Chicago is fairly large. What would you do differently/ suggest for women who live in smaller towns?

Thanks for doing this!


message 6: by Liz (new)

Liz Ryan | 1 comments Hi Rachel! LOVED your book and it really helped me find my own place in my new city;)
I read one of your recent blogs about a line in Mindy Kaling's show about "best friend" being a tier, which I completely agree with. Would you place any of the new friends you made through your search into this tier? If so, was there anything in particular that helped get you to that level of friendship? Thanks!


message 7: by Margo (new)

Margo (maothrockmorton) | 3 comments Mod
Hi Rachel! I would love to hear an update on all the friends you made throughout the book! (I was always rooting for Margo there are so few of us out there).

Did you find that any one way of making new friends was better than any other way? For example are you closer now (a few years later) with friends you met at improv vs friends you met through other friends?


message 8: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cynthiamay23) | 1 comments Hi Rachel! My husband is going out of town on a bachelor party weekend in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to having a full weekend of girl time. Do you have any good ideas for having friends from different circles meet?


message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Sim (llopez109) | 2 comments Rachel, I loved your book! I laughed a lot on some of the stories you had! I recently moved to Milwaukee from the suburbs of Maryland, so I'm going through the same thing. (transplant for my husband's job) Will you consider doing a follow-up book, or is your search over now?! I would love to read more about this topic. I checked out the book Friendfluence. Also, I was impressed by your bravery in your pursuit for the BFF's!


message 10: by Christine (new)

Christine | 1 comments Hi Rachel,

Loved your book! It came at a great time for me because I recently moved to a new area where I knew no one. Your idea of having a "bouquet of friends" rather than trying to find one, new close friend, spoke volumes and is working out great for me.

My question is: Why do you think it's sometimes difficult for women to sustain friendships? The more people I talk to, the more I hear about the "friends who got away" for one reason or another.


message 11: by Margo (new)

Margo (maothrockmorton) | 3 comments Mod
I was wondering if you had a hard time getting the book published because of the stigma around making friends? Like you said in the book its totally socially acceptable to say you are pursuing a man but it's so different when you say "Im on a friend search".


message 12: by Marlene (new)

Marlene Eckert | 1 comments Hey Rachel,

I loved your book! I came to the US in September to work here for only one year as a Nanny. Your book was the first one I've read here and it helped me through the first weeks as I didn't know anybody! It felt good to know that I was not the only one in such a situation!

What would you suggest women like me who will only stay for one year in a country but still try to make some friends?


message 13: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Bingham (iggylover) | 1 comments Hi Rachel,
I absolutely loved your book!!! I was constantly reading parts out loud to anyone who would listen. I read your book after my divorce and most of my friends were the wives/girlfriends of my ex's friends. He got to keep a lot of those in the divorce. I realized that I put MY friends on the back burner, to spend time with his. This book helped me put a priority on my friendships with the people I knew before him. They were my "lifers." I am in a new relationship now and trying to maintain a balance of his friends and my friends. I am even trying to bring both circles together. I am curious as to whether or not you have heard a similar story from other divorced women? Would it be enough material for another book? I feel like there are a lot of us out there that struggle to find friends after the end of a long term relationship.


message 14: by Kara (new)

Kara (karaayako) I'm going to echo a lot of the comments here so far. I'd moved to a new city before reading your book and had kind of felt like giving up on finding good friends. I had some work friends and my boyfriend's friends but no one like my friends in my old city, no true BFF. Your book inspired me. I really started putting myself out there, and I'm a LOT happier now with some close girlfriends. Thank you.

Another person asked about you doing a follow up book to this one, but do you have any other books in the works on a completely different topic? When I read MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend, I felt understood and inspired, and I would love to see you do this with a completely new topic.


message 15: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (book_music_lvr) | 1 comments My book club read your book this past summer. We all enjoyed it, and overwhelmingly were impressed with the amount of effort you devoted to searching out and forming friendships! You raised so many issues that many of us had never considered…it was both enlightening and entertaining. This past month, we read The Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith. I don’t know if you’ve read this book or not, but it also deals with female friendships, albeit from a slightly different perspective. This group of 5 women operated within a set of prescribed “rules”/”traditions” and we felt these were the reason they had remained such close friends for decades. What do you think of “rules” for friendships? Naturally, there are all sorts of unspoken relationship rules/expectations determined by society, but have you experienced a relationship with another woman or women governed by specific rules? Or have you found that you developed some rules within certain relationships?


message 16: by Madi (new)

Madi | 1 comments Hi Rachel,

Do you think this kind of year-long-search for friends should repeat throughout one's life? Considering that people get older, develop different socializing habits, have kids, move a lot or even split due to different conflicts.

Do you intend to do you it again at one point, even if you think you have enough friends?

Do you think one should do it regularly throughout life? Like every 7 years?


message 17: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Diehl (writerbeverly) When people know I write, I sometimes jokingly warn them, "Anything you say or do may be appearing in a novel or blog post, you know." And I never write anything unflattering about someone (at least, not without the identifying factors well filed off.)

Still, not everybody WANTS to be part of a book or blog post. Were there any potential friends who reacted badly when they found out they were being "used" as book/blog fodder?


message 18: by Becca (new)

Becca Altimier (beccafick) Hello! I've moved to a new city in the last year and am realizing how much I probably need to re-read this book!

I'd love to hear more about your writing and publishing process. How much book/blog had you written before the offer to publish was on the table- and how did you get to that point? Now that your book has been out for some time, do you have plans for any other published writing?

Becca Obergefell
beccaobergefell.com


message 19: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Laura wrote: "Hi, Rachel! I know it's awfully early, but I wanted to ask my question before I forgot it!

I'm an introvert (and just recently read Quiet by Susan Cain), and I'm wondering how you would suggest ta..."


Hi Laura --
Great question! This is such a hot topic lately, and I think people need to remember that introverts need friends too. Being an introvert means you get your energy internally, whereas extroverts get energy from external things, but being an introvert DOESN'T mean a person just doesn't need friends. This can be a large misconception about introversion. As you say, you might like being with a smaller group of people while an extrovert might love big groups and parties, but we all get the same benefits, ultimately, from friendship and companionship.

For an introvert, I still would suggest joining maybe a small book club or class or group where there's not a ton of pressure to be "on." In these scenarios, where you are sort of forced into a consistency of seeing each other because you have class every Thursday, or the first Tuesday of every month, you won't feel the pressure of having to "perform" as you might in a big group dinner or a brand new "friend-date." On a day where you are feeling not especially up for going to said class/club/group, you can tell yourself "I just have to attend, I don't have to say anything." Then, if you're really not up for it, you'll still have been there in a social setting. And more often than not, once you get there and get into the groove, you'll be surprised and how quickly you are ready to participate.

Of course, pick something that interests you, so that you want to go instead of dread it. If you hate performing, don't try improv! But maybe a knitting group.. If you hate reading (though I can't imagine anyone on Goodreads does!) skip the book club and trying a running club instead.

Hope this helps!
Rachel


message 20: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Emily wrote: "Hi Rachel! I read your book over the summer. How have your friendships developed since the book has been published? Have you made more local friends? Are you still maintaining your long distance fr..."

Hi Emily!

Thanks for reading the book! I think my friendships have developed in the natural way since 2010, when I did my friend search. A lot of them have really strengthened -- the women who were "new friends" back then feel like legit, real close friends now. We go out for each other's birthdays, text back and forth, even take weekend trips together!

Some other of the new friendships have faded, as happens naturally. Some of the women moved away (and I think it's particularly hard to maintain a long distance friendship when it is so new), and some have just grown apart. For example, when I stopped taking improv, my relationship with some of those folks faded since we weren't seeing each other as much. It's definitely a two-way street, and takes work, to keep all the relationships going! That said, I've also made a lot of new friends since the book. I think I really strengthened my friendship muscles in that year, so now making new friends (and especially following up with them) comes a lot more easily to me than it used to. I've made friends through my work, through mutual friends, at weddings, even at the gym!

As for my long distance friendships, those have been easy for me to keep up because most of them are with lifers. Callie, Sara, my besties from college and high school... I like to think those are the kind of friendships that don't take work anymore. Even if we go months without talking, we feel as close as ever!


message 21: by Rema (new)

Rema (rnasif) | 1 comments Hi Rachel,

Jordan sounds really cool in the book! Do you still hang out with her? She sounds promising:)


message 22: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "Hi Rachel! I was your author escort at last year's lit fest and I am wondering what your favorite thing to do solo in the city is so far. My favorite is Mac N' Cheese but I'm curious what you love..."

Hi Karen!

That's a tough question, as I did this journey so I wouldn't have to do things solo... but I do think my year of friending actually made me better at doing things on my own as well. I do love Mac 'N' Cheese, but I also really love Grub With Us, which is a social dining site where you go and try new restaurants AND meet new people! I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to make some new friends and also eat some deliciousness. Also, if you hate the idea of going somewhere alone, you can bring one friend.


message 23: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Angela K wrote: "Hi Rachel! I really enjoyed listening to your book. Lots of good stuff.

My question is, your "study" is in NYC, a place with a lot of people. Even Chicago is fairly large. What would you do diffe..."


Hi Angela --

I actually did my year of friending in Chicago (I moved from NYC), but you're right that it's a big city with lots of people. I would suggest a lot of the same initial things for women in smaller towns--reach out to any friends of friends, say yes to any invitations that come your way, join classes or clubs, etc. But, of course, the offerings might be fewer in a small town. Chicago has a million improv classes, or running clubs, or book clubs, and those vast options might not be available in a small town. To that end, I say start one yourself! I can't recommend it highly enough. If you want to start a book club, for example, (research shows joining a club that meets just once a month has the same increase in happiness as doubling your income!!) invite two people you know who might be interested. Ask each of those people to invite two more people (who preferably don't all know each other). Now you have seven book club members, a great size. The same is true of whatever your interest. Even in small towns women want to have a sense of community and belonging, of course, but the task of starting something can be daunting. You can also check out MeetUp.com, which usually has great options in every city/town/suburb.

Finally, I would say that in some ways a small town gives a great advantage -- people are less anonymous and you might encounter people in your neighborhood more frequently. The sheer act of seeing each other more, even if it's just in passing, will make it easier to eventually strike up a conversation!


message 24: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Rema wrote: "Hi Rachel,

Jordan sounds really cool in the book! Do you still hang out with her? She sounds promising:)"


Hi Rema -
Yes! Jordan is really cool, indeed. I adore her and we DO hang out a ton! She has become one of my closest friends... Anyone who loves dancing and idioms is pretty much a winner in my book.


message 25: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 1 comments Hey Rachel,
I loved your first book! It has really pushed me to make friends since I just moved to Nashville!
Do you have any plans for another book?


message 26: by Laura (new)

Laura Grow-Nyberg | 2 comments Rachel wrote: "Laura wrote: "Hi, Rachel! I know it's awfully early, but I wanted to ask my question before I forgot it!

I'm an introvert (and just recently read Quiet by Susan Cain), and I'm wondering how you wo..."


Great advice, thanks, Rachel! I realize I've already been doing some of this!


message 27: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Liz wrote: "Hi Rachel! LOVED your book and it really helped me find my own place in my new city;)
I read one of your recent blogs about a line in Mindy Kaling's show about "best friend" being a tier, which I c..."


Hi Liz! I love that Mindy Kaling line. She is brilliant! I would say that yes, some of my new Chicago friends have made their way into my Best Friend Tier.. there are my high school best friends, college best friends, camp best friends, work best friend... and now Chicago best friends! I think the thing that made it possible for these new pals to be my Chicago Best Friends is (aside from the fact that they're awesome) we see a lot of each other. As a group we do activities and have even gone away for a weekend. I think there is nothing more important than consistency when it comes to building strong friendships. You have to see each other a lot to get to a certain level of intimacy.


message 28: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Margo wrote: "Hi Rachel! I would love to hear an update on all the friends you made throughout the book! (I was always rooting for Margo there are so few of us out there).

Did you find that any one way of makin..."


Hi Margo! Now that some time has passed, I think that the "friends of friends" route was a really good one, because of course you have people in common to keep you connected. My improv friends, for example, I'm much less close with now. That might have been because of the age/life stage difference, but I think it was mostly because our relationship was so in the context of improv that when I stopped taking the class we just naturally grew apart. We didn't have that context to hold us together. I've made great friends through my book club, who I like to think of as my individual friends, but if the book club stopped meeting some of us might grow apart as well. So I like having friends that the relationship is standalone, and not based on a class or club.

I also think that creating a group of friends helps the friendships survive. I met a ton of great women through an essay I wrote online, and then I introduced them all to each other. Had each friendship been its own standalone thing, I might not have been able to keep it all up. But now that there is a group of us, it's so much easier to all get together at once! So while it's not necessarily HOW we met, i think creating a group/social network, when possible, is really helpful!


message 29: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Cindy wrote: "Hi Rachel! My husband is going out of town on a bachelor party weekend in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to having a full weekend of girl time. Do you have any good ideas for having friends from ..."

Hi Cindy! I love a girls weekend. I find the easiest way to have different friends meet is to have a lot of people over to my place. In a restaurant it can be difficult, because you end up talking to who you are sitting next to, and you usually sit next to people you already know. The whole thing can also feel very formal. The times I've wanted to bring together friends from all different areas of my life, I've had them over to my place and just provided wine and pizza (order-in OR make-your-own) and made it super casual and low key. If no one knows anyone, having an "activity" (like make-your-own pizzas) provides a good focal point so it's not all totally forced and awkward. But of course sometimes a glass of wine does that trick pretty well too!


message 30: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Rachel, I loved your book! I laughed a lot on some of the stories you had! I recently moved to Milwaukee from the suburbs of Maryland, so I'm going through the same thing. (transplant for my husba..."

Thanks Lisa! Friendship is really a rich topic and there is so much to say -- but I think for now I won't be doing a follow-up book to this one. My next book is another book for women, this one a similar self-improvement quest, but centered around celebrity obsession and perfectionism. My editor called it "The Happiness Project meets Us Weekly" (let's hope I live up to that!)... I just feel like my quest during MWF was fairly successful, so I don't have the same friendship issues now that I did then, and that, at least for now, I've said most of what I have to say on the topic.

That could change one day though... I know these kind of "friend updates" happen throughout one's life...


message 31: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Margo wrote: "I was wondering if you had a hard time getting the book published because of the stigma around making friends? Like you said in the book its totally socially acceptable to say you are pursuing a ma..."

Hi Margo,

Getting a book published is definitely hard, but I think the fact that there is a stigma around saying you are looking for friends got publishers interested in MWF. It's always helpful to talk about something that other people won't. I think that my book proposal got publishers thinking about the topic, and wondering why more people weren't talking about it!


message 32: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Marlene wrote: "Hey Rachel,

I loved your book! I came to the US in September to work here for only one year as a Nanny. Your book was the first one I've read here and it helped me through the first weeks as I did..."


Hi Marlene -

Even if you know you're only going to live somewhere for a year, or any other time frame, it's still vitally important to make friends. A year of loneliness is no way to live! I don't think you need to go on one friend-date a week like a did, but joining, meeting friends and friends, and saying yes to invitations when they come up is so important.

Aside from this options, perhaps there are other nannies in the area? Or the family you nanny for knows people? I would encourage you not to treat your time in the US as "one year" and just live as if you were staying for the long term. I've heard this often from many military wives, who move every three years or so. If you are constantly anticipating the next move, you'll never settle in!


message 33: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Jessica wrote: "Hi Rachel,
I absolutely loved your book!!! I was constantly reading parts out loud to anyone who would listen. I read your book after my divorce and most of my friends were the wives/girlfriends of..."


Thanks Jessica! Yes, I've heard similar stories from many divorced women. It had never occurred to me since I've never been in that situation, but many women have told me about "losing custody of their friends" after divorce. I'm not sure if there would be material for a book since I've never been through it myself, but it's certainly worth exploring!


message 34: by Rachel, Author of MFW Seeking BFF (new)

Rachel Bertsche | 13 comments Mod
Kara wrote: "I'm going to echo a lot of the comments here so far. I'd moved to a new city before reading your book and had kind of felt like giving up on finding good friends. I had some work friends and my boy..."

Thanks so much Kara! I do have a new book in the works that should be out next year. It's currently titled "Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me: The Pursuit of a More Perfect Existence, One Celebrity at a Time." Here's the tentative description:

Have you ever wished you had Jennifer Aniston's body? Jennifer Garner's marriage? Gwyneth Paltrow's kitchen savvy? Julia Roberts' serenity? Beyonce's, well, everything? In this charming memoir, Rachel Bertsche is on a quest to remake her life in the image of her favorite celebrities. During months spent working out to Jennifer Aniston's yoga guru's DVDs, subscribing to every issue of Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, copying Sarah Jessica Parker's fashion choices, and more, Rachel hopes to figure out if our celebrity obsessions can help us in the pursuit of happiness. And how, exactly, they get those rock-hard abs. Part personal memoir, part research and reflection, this book investigates our collective fascination with both celebrity culture and perfection, and how the two intersect. It looks at why we devour celebrity images and covet their lives, and why so many women believe that if only they had A-list looks/houses/relationships/fabulousness, that maybe their lives would be a little more perfect too.

Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me will do for female perfectionism what MWF Seeking BFF did for women and friendship. Rachel Bertsche asks: If I do what they do, will I appear perfect? And if I appear perfect, will I finally feel perfect? And, ultimately, does perfection lead to happiness?
​​​​
Thanks for your interest!!


message 35: by Emily (new)

Emily Myhren | 2 comments Rachel wrote: "Emily wrote: "Hi Rachel! I read your book over the summer. How have your friendships developed since the book has been published? Have you made more local friends? Are you still maintaining your lo..."

Thanks for the response! Great to hear your friendships held out :)


message 36: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Sim (llopez109) | 2 comments Thanks for responding! Just getting back to you now, FT job, hubby, 7 year old seem to tie me up! :) I can't wait to see your new work! (I'm always keeping up on celebrity fun) Keep us posted.
p.s. Glad your friendship journey is over for now. Lucky duck! I also have the book Friendfluence, but haven't had time to read it just yet. Am reading lots of Jo Nesbo and Cheryl Strayed's Wild.


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