The Way We Live: Why Jerry Seinfeld is wrong …

No wonder I’m tired. It seems that I’ve spent the last two years working in recruitment. I looked around at my closest girlfriends the other day and realised that one third of them are newbies. One third of my closest friends are women I’ve known for less than two years (actually one of them has only been in my life for four months). So it appears that in between writing and paying the bills and doing the groceries and trying to trick Ava into eating something other than vegemite sandwiches and blueberries and fish fingers, I’ve been on some kind of recruitment drive. At some point I started shopping for friends; collecting women and signing them up to Team Bec.

I find this a little odd. Mostly because I didn’t realise I actually had any positions vacant.

For years I smugly adopted the infamous Jerry Seinfeld approach to new friendships (as outlined in the Seinfeld episode ‘The Boyfriend’).

“When you’re in your thirties it’s very hard to make a new friend. Whatever the group is that you’ve got now, that’s who you’re going with. You’re not
interviewing, you’re not looking at any new people, you’re not interested in
seeing any applications. They don’t know the places. They don’t know the food. They don’t know the activities. If I meet a guy in a club or the gym or
someplace, I’m sure you’re a very nice person, you seem to have a lot of
potential, but we’re just not hiring right now.”

That was me. Not interested. Not hiring. I couldn’t keep up with the friends I had, the last thing I needed was more people in my life. So what happened? How did I wind up in a situation with so many new friends in my life?

I wised up. And I realised that as much as I love Jerry Seinfeld, he’s wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

It’s not new friendships many of us don’t have time for. It’s inauthentic ones.

I’m about to enter the last year of my 30s. What I don’t need are more superficial friendships. Connections that aren’t genuine, which are toxic or draining. Friends who want all the contact time but offer none of the depth. I’m done with that. But I will always have room for more people from my tribe.

To close yourself off from new friends altogether isn’t just arrogant, it’s foolish. An amazing friendship can happen when you least expect it. A great example is my favourite film of 2010 – The King’s Speech. It’s the story of the surprising friendship between King George VI of Britain and his Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue.

It’s the first time in years I’ve been to a movie where the audience cheered and clapped for a character. The King’s Speech was the perfect reminder that some friendships are fated and that out of the blue an amazing new friend can come into your life and change how you see the world. And yourself.

So my motto for 2011?  Position vacant.

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  1. Kerri Sackville on January 9, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Hmm… SO funny you should mention this….
    I would very much like to sign up for a place in Team Bec if there are still vacancies.

  2. Renee Taprell on January 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    A great post! It’s true if you close yourself off to new friendships, you don’t know what you’re missing.

    Seinfeld is such a classic. My husband and I were discussing the other day how we use Seinfeldism’s in everyday life. Saying’s like, ‘Serenity now!’ ‘No soup for you!’ ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that.’ Yadda Yadda Yadda.’ ‘Spongeworthy!’ ‘Double dip.’
    ‘I work for Vandelay Industries.’ ‘Can you spare a square?’ “Come and see the baby!’

    I’m looking forward to watching, The King’s Speech!

    Renee 🙂

  3. Alison Triffett - Style Counsel on January 9, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Love it Bec – but then you already know I head up the Bec Sparrow Fan-club – almost to the point of feeling like a stalker way back when we first met (remember? I saw you at the movies but didn’t want to approach you despite having been writing to you for so long? Still afraid this “new friend” may be sending the wrong messages?

    I’m with you on all of the above. Some of the loveliest people in my life are new friends. And I don’t have a HUGE circle of friends by any stretch of the imagination either. What I do have are the real deal though – and I’ll always find/make time for who fit that bill. My tribe is small, yet I consider myself very open and inclusive. My dirty word/pet hate (as per my blog from a while ago) is “exclusive”. Give me inclusive anyday!

    Hope to catch up soon – no pressure ever though…you know me… 🙂 Big Al x

  4. nellbe on January 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Wonderful post and I totally agree with you. I wish you well on your recruitment drive 😉

  5. Kylie L on January 9, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Just this year I have met two AMAZING funny, smart, like-minded women on Twitter (actually, three I think, if I can join the team ;)). I didn’t think I had any room in my life for new people, but happiIy I was wrong. The interesting thing is that i haven’t met either of these chicks, but we talk daily and I *know* they’re of my tribe. Not only have I changed my mind re having “room”, I’ve also changed my definition of a friend. It’s great when they’re in your city, but more important that they’re in your life.

  6. Alison on January 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I’m the other way. I don’t have a tribe. I have a number of acquaintances but no-one that I could say is a real friend and certainly no-one who is authentic. How do you do it? Where do you find friends?

  7. living savvy on January 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Like you Bec, I have slowly been adding to my tribe, so stealthily that I wasn’t aware it was happening. I think my daughter starting school has been a major factor as I never did playgroups, mother clubs or anything else that brought me into contact with other Mum’s who had children my age…..this choice that I made did mean some lonely times for me when my kids were very young, so it is refreshing to be mixing (and enjoying) the company of women who are at the same lifestage as I am. I think that us Mums are as eager as the children to find out which class our children will be in next year as this influences the makeup of our tribe.

    Even though I have been filling vacant positions and expanding my tribe to make way for newbie’s, there is still a “tough” recruitment process…..I want people who celebrate life, give as much as they take and appreciate their own quirks as much as they do mine.

    Kerry Armstrong wrote a book called The Circles about friendships & can help us to know what positions are vacant. Here is a link to a video of her talking about the book & process, I embedded the video into a post that I wrote. I usually avoid posting links to something I have written … apologies for the poor taste….but this book is beautiful & I love how Kerry explains it ……

  8. Sue (Just_Leithal) on January 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Really great post. I have always thought I was a 2 friends kind of girl, but as I tally things up I find that over the last ten or so years there have been lots of changes in the lineup, with 2 or 3 stalwarts and others who have come and gone, and others still, who have come & stayed.

  9. Jodi Gibson on January 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Excellent post. I love your statement about authenticity. A number of years ago I ‘culled’ (that sounds so harsh!) so called friends who were not really putting anything into our relationship. Now I have a handful of close friends whom I trust. But I am always open to new friendships that are valuable and authentic. 🙂

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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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