Marni’s Best Advice for Best Friends

Hey everyone,

So when I began writing Invisible I knew that this was my chance to give a voice to the “quirky best friend.” See, I’ve always taken issue with that role–even when watching my favorite romantic comedies. Most of the time the heroine is so focused on her own journey that she forgets her friend in the process. And I hate the way the audience often forgets right along with her.

Don’t get me wrong; we all love the quirky best friend. She gives inappropriate pep talks and tells our heroine some hard truths. She’s lovable and off-beat and often provides the comic relief.

Need examples? Be warned: almost all of them include slight profanity or adult language. It kind of goes with the territory.

Carrie Fischer in When Harry Met Sally.

Judy Greer. The Wedding Planner, 27 Dresses, and 13 Going on 30 all come to mind.

Zooey Deschanel in Failure to Launch.

Aly Michalka in Easy A.

There are others. So many others. But I can’t provide Youtube videos because apparently my QBF’s don’t usually get even that much attention.

I would love to hear your picks for QBF though. So feel free to leave them as a comment!

But back to the book! Insta-fame and a super sexy Notable boyfriend (*Waves happily to Logan!*) have added some strain into Mackenzie’s relationship with Jane. And it was important to me that the girls were equally responsible for that growing rift.

That’s how it works in real life. Nobody thinks to themselves, Wow, I’m doing a stellar job destroying all of my friendships. And I am 100% to blame for all of it. Woohooo!!!

Instead it is usually a mix of, I can’t believe they said/did that! How could they do that to me?! It’s like they don’t know me at all!–and my own personal nightmare–Am I blowing this whole thing out of proportion? Maybe I shouldn’t say anything? Maybe I should pretend that my feeling weren’t hurt? Maybe…she doesn’t want to be my friend?

So I created Marni’s Best 10 Bits of Advice for Best Friends!

Hopefully it will help both of us avoid the pitfalls that I use to ruthlessly torture my characters in my books.

1. Don’t expect your friend to read your mind.

You have to be willing to speak up when something upsets you. And this is really freaking hard. I remember being floored when I first read Harry Potter and Dumbledore awarded 10 points to Gryffindor because of Neville Longbottom. But he’s right: It is harder to stand up to your friends. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it though.

2. Keep in mind that not everything is about you.

If a friend doesn’t have as much time for you…maybe they just have a lot on their plate? Maybe they are stressing over family issues, or school stuff, or a new relationship, or something else entirely! It’s never fun to feel left out, but it can be a great opportunity to focus on your own interests. Speaking of which…

3. Don’t trade in your identity.

Let’s face it, it’s never fun to disappoint a friend. So when they want to listen to a band that you don’t particularly like or they invite you on an two week river rafting adventure…it can be hard to say no. And there are times when you shouldn’t say no! Trying new things with a friend can be fan-freaking-tastic! But I don’t recommend losing yourself in other people’s interests.

Marni Example: My friends convinced me to check out Battlestar Galactica and I’m totally hooked. But I don’t have time for it right now and I knew that if I didn’t read spoilers, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my work. So, yeah, I read the wikipedia page. And my friends did not take that news well. They shouted at me in all caps. For days. But I have no regrets. I did what I needed to do and even though my friends don’t like it…they will get over my geeky betrayal. Eventually.

4. Have good intentions.

This rule is the primary one I use to navigate my life. I mess up plenty. I’m human. I learn from mistakes and try to do better next time. But at the end of the day, I’m okay with myself, because even when I royally botch things up…my intentions are good. That’s what matters most to me.

5. Fight fair.

You are going to disagree with your friends. It’s inevitable. And when that does eventually happen–fight fair. No name-calling. No insults. Resist the temptation to use your insider knowledge against them.

Marni Example: If you know your friend is self-conscious about their weight, do not say, “I don’t know why you pretend like you are skinny, when you’re obviously not!” That’s not okay. Instead, you might want to consider using something like, “It has started to really frustrate me when you borrow my clothes. I love you, but it makes me all twitchy when I can’t find what I want to wear in my closet.”

6. Keep the communication lines open…as long as you feel safe.

If your friend doesn’t fight fair…I suggest you shut it down. At the end of the day, you need to protect your own emotional well-being. A real friend should want that for you, too. My rule of thumb: If you would never treat someone the way that you are being treated…you probably aren’t friends.

7. Learn how to apologize and to accept heart-felt apologies.

This goes along with the whole good intentions thing. You don’t have to regret taking a stand, but if someone’s feelings are hurt…that is usually worthy of an apology.

It might sound lame, but even a simple, “My intent was never to hurt you. I’m really sorry if this offended you in any way,” goes a long way with a good friend.

IMPORTANT CAVEAT: NEVER begin a sentence with, “I don’t want to be rude, but–” or “Not to be mean, but–”

You are probably being both rude and mean.

If you honestly don’t want to be those things? Don’t say it. Telling people that you are about to tear them to shreds does not give you permission to go ahead and do it.

So you might want to keep that in mind.

8. Be supportive.

So you don’t get Battlestar Galactica? That’s fine. Maybe you loathe everything about Stephanie Meyers. Plenty of people feel that way, too. But if someone says, “Oh, I can’t wait to go to Forks! I’m going to do a Twilight movie marathon as preparation for my trip and it will be awesome!” you do not get to call them sad or pathetic. You also don’t get to patronize them. If you honestly can’t think of anything supportive to say, I vote you go with this: It’s great that you are so excited about (blank)!

Because it is great! Even though the subject matter doesn’t interest you, that shouldn’t prevent you from being happy for your friend. The fact that they feel so passionately about something is awesome in itself!

By raining on their parade, you’re probably being a bully instead of being a friend.

9. Try not to judge.

Your friend might want different things out of life. Very different things. That’s not always going to be easy to understand–and it can be excruciating to watch–but keep in mind that what would be a colossal mistake for you, might be great for them. 

I’m a huge Pride & Prejudice fan and I try to keep Charlotte Lucas in mind whenever I’m tempted to say something like, “Are you for real right now? Are you out of your freaking mind?!” That’s pretty much how Lizzie responded to Charlotte’s engagement news and (spoiler alert!) it did not go over well.

The video quality here isn’t the best, but I love this scene!

This doesn’t mean I don’t speak up when I think my friends need me. I just try not to be a Judgy McJudgerson. In my experience, “Hey, are you okay? I’m worried about you,” means the most during a crisis.

10. Befriend yourself.

I happen to think you are pretty darn awesome and all of your friends agree with me. But at the end of the day, it’s what you think of yourself that matters the most. Treat yourself well. The people who do the same are the ones you’re going to want to stick with for the rest of your life.

There is some great advice in this scene from The Holiday. It really resonated with me!

I hope this helps!

Sincerely,

Marni

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