A and I met on Twitter the way most people do; through a shared interest (our love for books) and mutual friends. We had been following each other for years and replied to each other’s tweets often. She was a writer and a reader like me, and we were a potential friendship waiting to happen. At some point, we exchanged phone numbers in hopes of fostering a deep friendship, but it did not happen.
I have two distinct memories of our friendship prior to 2019- a phone call where we talked about our love interests at the time and co-writing a blog post titled Two West-African girls talk love. From these interactions, I knew we would be really good friends but for some reason our friendship remained taxied on the runway. We would say things like “we should schedule another catch-up session” but we never did.
Making friends as an adult is hard. Making friends as an adult through social media is even harder. I have found that friendships require intentionality, the right timing, shared interest, values and consistency. In real life friendships, you could get away with a combination of different things but for friendships born on social media, in my opinion, you need all of the above. Social media friendships can be difficult to get off the ground, you know. You exchange phone numbers, talk for about a week or three and then things start to fizzle out. It’s no one’s fault really, friendships can’t stay surface level for too long, one person or something has to move the friendship deeper and sometimes that never happens or sometimes it does, a couple years later, like it did for A and me.
One evening in July 2019, A and I had the dinner that plunged our friendship deeper. I had just come back from Europe and was spending a week in the States before heading back to home. I texted A while I was in Europe to let her know I would be in her city and that we should grab lunch or dinner. It would be our first-time meeting in person. She was thrilled and in what I would now call true A fashion, she had a list of restaurants I could choose from but highlighted one that had delicious frozen margaritas and if you know me, you know I’m always down for a good cocktail.
A and I connected right away. I often get a bit nervous about meeting people for the first time because sometimes online connections don’t translate in real time. Sometimes, things get awkward before they get effortless. With A, things were stellar right off the bat. We ordered cocktails and enjoyed a three-course meal while talking about everything from work to love to degrees to writing. It was the perfect evening. It was an evening so perfect, we decided to meet up the next day. A’s job was and still is very demanding but at the time, I did not realize what a sacrifice she was making by leaving work early to spend time with me. This was when our friendship really took off.
I did not know it then but I was about to walk into one of the most difficult seasons of my life and A would be a key player. In about a week, I would get a promotion at work, I would need to ramp up my studying for the GRE to apply to business school and I would be working on my passion project, Rari. At first glance, these look like really exciting things and they are but my God, the work it would take to succeed at all these things would drain me. In the middle of all these, A and I would get into the habit of sending daily voice notes and these voice notes would not only accelerate the getting to know each other phase, but also become the soundtrack of the coming days especially the hard ones.
There is a quote by Gabrielle Zevin that I love so much: Sometimes books don’t find you until the right time. It is a quote I wholeheartedly believe in because I have found it to be true in my life. There have been times when I have picked up a book and found myself unable to connect with its content and so I put it back on the shelf. In a couple months or years, when I return to that book, it is exactly what I need to be reading in the phase of life I am in or because I have grown enough to value what it is offering. I feel this way about the timing of A and I’s friendship.
At the time when A and I got close, I was waking up really early to get to work at least an hour before my start time so I could get some studying in. I was juggling the crazy demands of my new role at work, studying for another three hours after work and working on promotion/content creation for Rari. I was exhausted and stressed. A had been through studying for the LSAT and bar exams so she had a lot of experience with standardized tests. Everytime I would take a practice test and my result was below my desired goal, A knew exactly what to say to keep me above water. A’s lifestyle worked for me. Her late nights at work gave me someone to text or voice note when I was frustrated and on the brink of tears. And when she was stressed about her work or personal plans for the future, I would be right there with my voice notes encouraging her or hashing out possible solutions. Our friendship was an anchor. There were nights I was so tired, I did not think I had it in me to study for another minute but I would think of A at work at 1am and say “If A is still working at this time, I can study for one more hour.” Some days were so excruciating but A was the perfect person to inspire me to keep moving.
I told A the other day that my MBA is OUR MBA because I honestly could not have done it without her. She was a bright and constant presence every step of the way. I had to write the GRE more than once and when I finally got my desired score she sent the most enthusiastic messages and a voice note saying “I hate that i have to whisper right now because I am still in the office. I am literally shaking on your behalf. This is all your hard work paying off in the best way possible. I am so incredibly proud of you for not giving up and for powering through…” This is the kind of support A gave me. And when the MBA interview invites and the admissions with scholarships started rolling in, just like she said they would, her joy and excitement for me were so palpable it brought me to tears.
A and I could not have found each other at a better time. I needed her and I think she needed me too. I don’t know if A and I will be friends forever but I hope with my entire heart that we will be. I will always be grateful for those thirty minute voice notes packed with solid advice, the delicious cocktails we shared and our epic banter. I look forward to the opportunity to reciprocate the care and consistency she showed me a thousand times over.