I have spent much of the last two years justifying myself to people who simply didn’t understand: we can only be friends if you take my hand and run through the rain when the movie lets out.
There is another friendship that doesn’t end with you and me side by side.
I have said it over and over: Twitter brought me friends who matter.
And in others’ doubts, I thought two things about that:
- I must not have been good enough to make friends in person.
- These phone calls and text messages and G-chats and Skype dates didn’t count.
It was a terrible way to feel. And I know, when I could be going to the grocery store and bonding over bo-go Edy’s mint chocolate chip ice cream, it’s hard to justify sitting on my couch and tweeting someone in another city.
Get out, get out, speak out loud. Don’t shrug when the cashier asks how you’re doing this afternoon. Don’t blush if you begin to mirror a stranger’s smile.
Maybe that’s the writers curse.
We feel joy coming from the other side of the dressing room door when the dress fits just right. We duck our heads if we start to empathize with someone who just doesn’t have enough cash on them. We like to keep it all here, where we can edit and backspace before we submit our thoughts to the world.
Maybe, the confused tell you, that’s the reason you have these so-called friends. Maybe you’re hiding behind the screen because you want time to think before you speak.
I promise, I’m not. I promise, these friends of yours are real. I promise, it has nothing to do with whether you write or read or wink at the sales associate ringing up your metallic ballet flats and scribble your number on an old receipt.
Introvert or not, we want to connect and understand and be understood.
So I’m done feeling bad. For having friends who can’t laugh when my hair sticks up in the morning. For smiling with the mother whose kids are skipping through the parking lot.
I hope you find a friend—online or in the grocery store or waiting at the train station—who understands where you’ve been or where you’re headed. I hope nobody tries to twist your arm until you say, “You’re right. It doesn’t count.”
It counts. Every time you feel that smile creep up on your face. Every time your head begins to nod in understanding. It always counts.
Side note: I have some of the best friends in the world—online and offline. And if you’re wondering how I feel about friends, it is in my Friendship Manifesto.
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