Thank You For Being a Pocket Friend

Posted on September 23, 2022

Rainbows in two corners in teal shades. Two hands holding and tapping on a smartphone, next to a dozen like and love bubbles. Text says Pocket Friends Forever.

Welcome, dear pocket friends. Today’s Morning Buzz is by Jessica VanderKolk, Communications Manager for the City of Battle Creek in Southwest Michigan. Hit me up on Twitter and LinkedIn.

What I’m watching: Trying to squeeze in as much Offspring as possible. I got there late, and it’s about to get the boot off Netflix.

What I’m reading: Just finished I’m Glad My Mom Died. Not part of the iCarly generation, but I do enjoy memoirs and biographies.

What I’m planning: #ELGL22! Are you registered? You should get registered!

I brainstormed several ideas for this Buzz, and left the writing for the last minute, which has me completely changing direction based on a simple text conversation I had tonight.

The short of it is, I felt seen and cared about, and I cried.

I don’t remember where I picked up the term “pocket friend,” but I think a conference speaker referenced it earlier in the pandemic. Pocket friends are the friends we connect and network with online, keeping them on our phones, safely in our pockets. (Though, let’s be real, how many pockets can a smartphone actually fit into?) Maybe we haven’t met them in person. I have many of these, and they are quite special.

Working on a tiny communications team for a full-service city is often overwhelming on a good day. I love this work with my entire being, and it often takes my entire being to accomplish it. Plus parenting solo during the week. Plus elementary parent-teacher organization. Plus cooking dinner. Plus other outside board activities (see: ELGL). I know you get it.

Young adult woman with long brown hair, with a serious face, saying "Everything!!!" Wall posters and stacked mailboxes of papers make this look like a classroom.

Some days, the weight of THE LIST feels unbearably heavy. I’m a runner, love hanging out with my family and petting our doggo, I read, I hang with pocket friends on Twitter, and all of those have varying results.

People in my orbit occasionally ask: “What can I do to help you?” “What can I do to support you?” “What do you need?” All fine questions with good intentions behind them; I’ve asked them, too.

But I almost never have an answer. I don’t know how to answer. I don’t know where to start. It seems easier to do something myself than delegate, because explaining the need takes just as long as doing the thing.

This brings me back to tonight. Texting with a Superstar Pocket Friend about a committee I’m working on, but not fast or well enough (my evaluation, not theirs), they say, “Let me get you some help. [Third Superstar] is in.” No joke, my eyes are welling again telling the story. They just… got Third Superstar as another expert on this committee topic, and passed that help over to me.

Two sentences. Nine words. It changed my day.

Earlier tonight I brought an In Real Life friend some gorgeous, beach-y colored press-on fingernails from my stash to try. They match a room they just repainted after going through some tough life things. They were ecstatic. It doesn’t take many words or big gestures to spread kindness and help someone. Help looks like doing something to make an impact on another person, sharing small tokens, observing someone’s hard work.

Remember the ELGL motto? Work hard. Be kind. We got this.

A few ideas I find meaningful:

  • I’m available right now – send me what you’re working on and I’ll proofread it.
  • I took a photo of the sunrise if you need some new social media content.
  • I can do the job you need. Let me volunteer first.
  • I would love to spend time with you. Are you available Thursday at 5 to come over? I’ve got drinks and snacks.
  • You made this happen, and it is wonderful. I see your effort.

I can’t WAIT to meet a whole bunch of pocket friends IRL at #ELGL22. Learn more, including some excellent points about why you should attend, in this Buzz from Meredith Reynolds.

Work hard, be kind,


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