Hello, will you be my friend?

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 11.25.47 I remember it like it was yesterday. I was nine years old and it was our school lunch break. It was grey and cloudy and the tarmac was wet from earlier rain. I had nobody to play with because my best friend was off sick and my second best friend was in a music lesson, so I walked up to three girls in my class and asked if I could play with them. I remember one of them was eating Smiths crisps, (the ones with the little navy sachet of salt in them) and another was eating a box of raisins. They were nice girls, not mean girls, but they looked at me and said they’d have to think about it. They walked away a few feet and whispered for a minute, occasionally looking back at me. Then they returned. They had decided my fate. ‘No, we can’t play with you today,’ said the crisp eater. ‘Maybe tomorrow,’ said raisin girl. ‘Oh,’ said me. There was an awkward silence. I remember exactly how I felt as I walked away from them, looking down at my Clarks shoes and feeling conspicuously alone and embarrassed. I had been rejected. My eyes stung with tears. I don’t remember what I did for the rest of playtime – whether I hung, alone, on the climbing frame or if I hid in the toilets – but I know that my best friend came back to school the next day and playground life returned to usual. Still that lunch hour made its imprint. I have spent a lot of my life avoiding that moment when you ask someone to play with you and they say no. I always wait for other people to make the first move and even hesitate before asking good friends if they want to meet up, I always think they’ll say they’re too busy etc… I am always imagining/ pre-empting rejection. Anyway, I’m realising how stupid and pointless all this is. This January when I was doing my naked modelling I met a fantastically gorgeous woman called LaDawn. At the end of our naked modelling session she turned to me and said ‘I like you, shall we be friends?’. I loved it! So simple and confident and cool. Why on earth don’t we all say this, all the time? I was delighted. Then last week, exactly the same thing happened – I was at a party and chatted with a friend of a friend, who I’d met a couple of times before. Half way through our catch-up she stopped and said: ‘I think you’re great. Shall we be friends and hang out and have fun?’ She made my day! So anyway this week I’ve been on a mission to make new friends. I’ve had mixed success. I emailed six different people I admire –  work contacts/friends of friends – and asked them for coffee. Two didn’t reply. That stung. I felt embarrassed and like a fool. One said, sorry she’s really busy at the moment. That also stung. I felt like I’d been brushed off. I imagined her thinking that I was a weird loser who has to ask strangers out for coffee because she has no real friends… But then three said yes they’d love to. Hurrah! I met one of them this week. She’s a work contact whose writing I love but who I’ve never met before. She is the kind of person who I would have thought would be  too good to hang out with the likes of me – too busy, cool, successful etc  – and so I was amazed that she got back to me. Not only that but she said she’d been reading my blog and loved it. We met for coffee on Wednesday and got on like a house on fire. Half way through the conversation I did a LaDawn on her – I said ‘I think you’re great, would you like to be friends?’ It was embarrassing and awkward. I felt absolutely open to rejection. For a second there was a funny silence. I think she was taken aback by the question but then she smiled: ‘Yes, I’d like that!’ And so that’s it. I have a new friend. So this weekend here’s a challenge: if there’s somebody you like/admire/fancy tell them that you like them. Even if you don’t get the response you’d like there’s something very cool about having the guts to just lay your cards on the table. xx PS – one of the suggested rejection therapy challenges is to ask people you don’t know to be friends with you on Facebook. I’ve been doing that for the last month with writers I like, cool bloggers and friends of friends. I’d say more than half have said yes. I’ve been a bit too embarrassed to make any further contact after that – to acknowledge the elephant in the room which is that ‘I don’t actually know you at all but here’s why I made a friend request on Facebook…’ but it’s quite a fun game. Although maybe it’s a bit weird and stalker-y. I don’t know. Anyway… here’s to making a bit of a fool of yourself and being rejected and not being rejected..

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25 thoughts on “Hello, will you be my friend?

  1. Marianne! I love this idea! 😉 It takes a certain kind of confidence to be like your friend LaDawn. I have to admit that generally I wait for others to make friends with me or for my friends to approach me and ask to meet. I’m increasingly becoming aware of this and as you know awarness is the first step to change. I’m going to challenge myself to be more like your friend LaDawn. Btw! We are due for a meeting! 🙂 xx

  2. I love this! It does seem so much harder to make friends this way when you get older, when really, it should be the most natural thing to do. But asking a girl to hang out is almost as scary as asking a man out on a date! We have this perception that everyone will think we’re weird but that’s really not the case at all with most people. I think it’s such a huge compliment if a girl reaches out to suggest coffee or lunch. I’m loving this entire blog Marianne – fascinating stuff 🙂 xx

    • Laura, thanks so much! Just started following your blog now too. And yes, it’s almost as scary as the man date – it does feel weird. LIke you’er about to become Single White Female or something but as you say, it’s a huge compliment. Thanks so much for reading and saying nice things. Would love to blog to be read by more, so please do share with friends if you think it’s their thing – and I’ll keep reading your updates too.
      Have a nice weekend.
      xx

  3. I had my playground moments, too, and they hurt today as much as they did then. I love your approach to making a new friend — just ask. I’m guessing the people you ask are as nervous and afraid as you are.

    Re the Facebook friending, though. Most authors and writers and artists and bloggers are trying to grow their business and their brand. Their acceptance of your friend request has nothing to do with friendship. Just so you know!

  4. Hi there! I know how you feel. Living an expat life means having to make new friends all the time as you move house a lot! Through practice, I now stroll up to people – even in a supermarket – and start chatting. I ‘fes up to being new in town and needing friends. Most people can always do with a new friend and accept happily. In fact, now that I think about it, I don’t think there’s ever been a no! On the downside, I’ve just been through a hideous drama with a new friend whom I thought I knew, but she turned out to be a cheat and a liar – long story! Be open but be aware is my new saying! Good luck!

    • Alice, I feel fine about making new friends abroad because it’s obvious you’re not a loser, just new in town… it’s harder at home. I will be aware though, so thanks… and thanks for reading and commenting. Really appreciate it. Have a nice weekend. xx

  5. I am fascinated by your quest and updates too but also intrigued…..Is Marianne Power your real name or has something prompted you to change it?

  6. I would share a coffee with you in a flash. I miss our catch-ups! These blogs are great Marianne. So are you xxx

  7. I’ve never actually asked someone to be my friend (now known as ‘doing a LaDawn), but I love the formality of it. That’s more scary, definitely, than realising that your friendship circle has simply and happily gotten bigger as you go along x

  8. Now here is a story for you….I read this the other day thought to myself, you know this isn’t something I really have a problem doing. I think I am probably quite extrovert in a lot of ways, and following bad experiences ‘not fitting in’ shall we say when I was very young so I get where this comes from, I kind of have a fairly proactive approach to meeting new friends these days and (female – men is another issue LOL) anyway back to the point, I read your post and I thought about someone I met at the tail end of last year at an ‘alternative’ workshop, who I really liked and clicked with, and I thought I’d really like to keep in touch and be her friend, so at the end of the evening, I made a point of seeking her out and saying we should keep in touch and hang out (she seemed a bit surprised) and I gave her my FB details. I never heard from her, so I just thought OH WELL she probably has enough friends. No big deal. So your post reminded me of this.

    Well today, I was standing at my cake stall I have in the Local producers market here (a special event it’s not usually Sunday) and this lady appeared in front of me!!! OMG What are you doing here she says, I TRIED to FIND YOU on FB and I couldn’t!!!

    So…. moral of the story is I could have been beating myself up for months that X didn’t want to be my friend, and that she thought I was a forward weirdo….but the true reason was that she had a genuine reason for not being in touch. I’ve got her details now, and she has my phone number.

  9. This one I’m pretty good at – I ask people to hang out and even “let’s be friends” on a fairly regular basis and without much fear of rejection. But it made me wonder – how did you and I first become friends?? Do you remember? I have a feeling it was something like we were somehow hanging out in a group one night and then found out we were in the same dorm (the ex-pat ghetto 😉 ) or something?

    • I half remember meeting you on a weird drum and bass club night on Oxford street. One of your friend was friend with Chris and the other guys on the third floor of Ifor, then we got chatting and I remember you were wearing a cool retro shirt and I thought you were ridiculously clever for going to Yale and I couldn’t believe how sweet you were given that you were ridiculously clever and went to Yale. THEN I came up to your room and you made me gorgeous coffee and we listed to Billie Holiday and you talked me through all the art postcards on your wall. Then I thought you were EVEN more ridiculously clever and I felt guilty about spending more time watching Hollyoaks than reading Dickens or going to art galleries. You were always a great listener – I remember us talking way more about me than you. xxx

  10. Awwwwwwww, Ifor Evans! I had forgotten the name! And yes, I remember that night, and it was Cameron who was somehow friends with the fellas. Aww, I did need coffee in your tea-driven world. Clearly I may have enabled an addiction for you for years to come 🙂 Miss listening to you and sharing too! And look forward to going to art galleries with you in NYC or London sometime sooner rather than later xo

    • Ha! Yes, you were definitely the start of my coffee addiction!! I associate it with being sophisticated, cultural and arty – thanks to you? Remember that back room in costa coffee in Camden? That was before the days when coffee shops were everywhere.
      We will do an art gallery together before long – in NYC or London. xx

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