Understanding My Long-Distance Friendships

I’ve always struggled with maintaining my friendships. Ever since I was an elementary school student, I struggled with keeping the same friends from year to year and building a long-lasting connection. I always felt like a floater, drifting between different friend groups as the years went along and never really belonging to a group where I felt comfortable and wanted.

This changed in my first year of middle school, when I finally found friends I could be comfortable with. The surprising thing was that none of us were very similar to each other. For example, I was a nerd, preferring to read and draw in my free time while most of my friends were sporty and athletic and oftentimes would drag me to play soccer or keep away during recess. I felt like I was different from them, but I never felt alone with them and that helped me understand my role as a friend. These differences led to conflict too, however, but oftentimes my role was to be a peacekeeper and maintain the peace that many middle school friendships struggled to keep. At the time, I thought that these would be the friends that I would stay with for a long time, but unsurprisingly, I still only regularly speak to one of the girls.

Source: Pexels

My friendships changed as I got older and instead of valuing convenience, I started to focus on common interests. My best friends became the ones I regularly danced with. Even when it seemed like they had nothing else in common with me and we only saw each other once a week, I felt like I could stay friends with them because they were reliable. I could trust them to keep their word and maintain when they could visit me. While I had the most distance between these friends, they were also the friends I felt I would stay friends with the longest.

Now in college, it seems like an even bigger struggle to maintain any of my friendships from my hometown. I love my friends from home, but it always seems like there are more immediate pressures to deal with in school. The only times I can call my friends seem to be at the crack of dawn or during class, and the calls don’t seem as meaningful as they could be. We only tend to speak about the things that are superficial and the conversations are not as deep. It’s hard to stay in touch when we don’t see each other in person anymore; even the facetime calls seem less meaningful.Source: Pexels 

A lot of pop culture greatly values long lasting friendships and shows groups of women staying friends for many years after they meet. I often wonder if this is close to reality because it seems like I am stuck in the constant cycle of distancing friends and making new ones. As it becomes harder and harder to stay close to my old friends, I have come to realize that part of it is because I don’t make as much of an effort. It was easy to stay friends when we were close to each other and this distance tests the ones I chose to value. I have also come to realize that I need to believe in the trust I have in our friendships as well. Can we come together as friends even after not speaking to each other for a few months? Having that trust and reliability in our friendship has also increased the quality and strength as well.

It is inevitable that life will be a constant cycle of losing and gaining friends, and I have realized that this may not necessarily be a bad thing. Keeping a friendship is just as important as any relationship, and requires time and effort on both sides to be complete.

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