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I care about your friendships beyond what anyone would consider normal. I care so much that I’ve been giving advice on friendship for six years. It’s not my only job, but it’s the one I was meant to do.
“I’m always the one who initiates plans.”
“I can’t tell if she only wants to be Facebook friends.”
“My friend always cancels.”
I have answers to these conundrums, which takes chutzpah since I’m not a therapist or a life coach. I lead creative writing groups, write and edit. But I make time for sharing friendship advice because it fulfills me in a way nothing else does.
I’ve felt pulled towards the intricacies of friendship since I was a kid. My parents’ friends were their constant companions for dinners, bridge, theater, concerts at Ravinia Park outside of Chicago, travels and holidays. They were their tennis and running partners when I was young, and their adult education and walking buddies later. They’ve been the backdrop of milestone birthdays and all the big events for my two sisters and me. They hosted our wedding showers and sent baby gifts. They not only show up at the shivas, but organize the food. They come early and stay late for both the good and bad times.
I’d hear the conversations my mom had in the kitchen, the extra-long phone cord twirled around her fingers. She’d get out her date book, making time for the extension of our family: one Gail, three Lindas, an Elaine and too many others to name.
I didn’t make a conscious decision to build a career on my Mom and Dad’s social life. It’s simply a path I saw when their friendships made it clear that life would be lonelier without friends. People needed ideas for making and keeping friends. I knew I could help.
This doesn’t make me a perfect friend. I’ve had plenty of my own dilemmas to solve, and my mom and my best friend, Taryn, often give me good advice. I quote them often in my column.
But no matter what hurdles I’ve had to solve for myself, I don’t give up on the importance of friendship, the centrality of it. I dedicate time to my friends. And when I see others struggle with solvable social issues that come up, I feel a calling to help.
An editor hired me to give friendship advice on her website. From the very first question, the gig was beshert. When her site closed, I continued the column on my own. I tell myself I’ll move on when the emailed questions stop, but they keep coming. When I see one waiting for me, my heart beats quickly with anticipation. Here is someone struggling with a friendship, I think. And I can help.
Nina Badzin is a freelance writer and a co-founder of the writing studio at ModernWell. She lives with her husband, Bryan, and their four kids in Minneapolis. Nina writes about friendship, books, Jewish life and more. Find her at ninabadzin.com, on Twitter @ninabadzin, Facebook, and on Instagram @readwithninab. She’s always taking anonymous friendship questions. To see the topics she’s covered already, look here.
Top photo: Nina’s friendship advice website