In elementary school, I was lucky enough that my best friend moved to our small little city in Southern California from across the country. Her name is Naomi. We bonded over being two of the tallest girls in our class during elentary school. We bonded over teasing each other about hair ties and siblings (both one year younger than us). We remained friends throughout her year abroad in middle school, sending packages of candy and little gifts back and forth to the point where I think we might have spent more on shipping than on the gifts themselves. We went through some of the same stages of life and the struggles of adolescence together. Through thick and thin for over a decade now, Naomi has been my closest friend. What makes things hard now isn’t boy drama or just growing apart, it is the fact that for over a year and a half now we have been over 5,400 miles apart from each other. I wouldn’t change much about going to UCLA, but one thing I would want to change is the distance from my best friend. No matter the distance though, we are still always there for each other. She is the B to my S (Gossip Girl reference), and even though I have heard how hard it is to expect childhood friendships to last, I know we will make it. So, here are a few things I have learned as we have navigated the sometimes choppy waters of being friends on different continents:
- Don’t Be Afraid Of Change
Just like in any friendship, a long distance friendship may change with time. You might be spending time with that old friend in their new place and learn that you don’t talk about the same things anymore. You might have gossiped about friends before, and might now spend your time talking about family relationships or shopping for kitchen utilities. Just like with any other friendship, it is important to let that relationship change and flow. Treat your relationship like any other. As you both grow, together or apart, your relationship will grow with you, so do not try to push it towards the past.
- On That Note, Don’t Live In The Past
While it can be easier and more comfortable to fall back into talking about what so-and-so was doing six months ago when you and your friend were still hanging out on the daily or what you used to do together when you lived near each other, it is important not to hold too tightly to the past. While it is definitely fun to reminisce, you have to remember that both your lives are moving forward. Even as you two may be on opposite sides of the world, there are reasons you are still friends and you should continue to move forward and make new memories together, not just focus on the past.
- While You Shouldn’t Live In The Past, You Can Keep Some Of The Same Traditions
We may be across the globe from each other and may struggle to keep in as close contact as we used to, but we still keep in mind some of the traditions we kept when we were living within walking distance from each other. We still go shopping at the same mall and walk store-to-store from end-to-end even if it takes us all day. We still laugh about the same jokes and post birthday posts on Instagram for each other. We still enjoy going to cheesy movies together and trying all of the very LA food places together. We swap gifts when we see each other and send each other funny posts on Instagram when we are apart. For me, I think it is important to remind yourself and your long-distance friend of those sacred traditions whenever you can.
- Put The Time In When You Are Both Able To
When you are apart, it can take more effort to keep a friendship going since you can’t meet up for an hour on a random Monday to chat. When you don’t go to the same school anymore, there is no gossiping at lunch time or quick life updates by your lockers, so it takes effort, care and affection to keep those relationships alive. Just because you aren’t both living in the same city anymore doesn’t mean you have to keep your distance! When you both have the chance, spend time together! Hit up that old favorite restaurant, go get a cup of coffee or see what your city has to explore. Quality time when you can see each other face-to-face is so critical because it helps to really rebuild the foundation of your friendship from when you used to get to spend hours upon hours together.
- Being Close Doesn’t Have To Mean Talking 24/7
While I still consider Naomi one of my closest friends, we aren’t able to talk to each other 24/7. Between the time difference and both of our busy lives, we still check in as often as we can and keep each other updated on our lives. It is okay to want the super quick responses we have come to expect as a generation filled with Snapchat and Instagram. But, we also both understand that as college students who live a world apart, we have lives outside of each other. We both don’t expect instantaneous responses and we do still take the time to respond when we can. Just because you haven’t spoken in some amount of time doesn’t mean you aren’t friends. Take the time to catch up. Reach out and rebuild that connection.
- Finally, And Most Importantly, LOVE THEM
The most important thing you can do is make sure your friend knows how much you LOVE THEM. It doesn’t take a lot for us, but it really depends on your friendship. We take the time to text, snapchat, DM and just let each other know about the details of our lives as they come up. If for you that means a weekly phone call, FaceTime or another form of communication, just remember to be genuine and give some love to your best friend. Just as important as it is to love yourself, it is important to remind your best friend how much you love them too.
I was definitely one of the lucky ones to meet someone in fourth grade on the playground and be able to call her my best friend a decade later. For me, the most important thing about maintaining a long distance friendship is just remembering that we still are best friends and can tell each other anything. No matter the distance, just know that you two will always be there for one another. I just want to say, thank you Naomi for teaching me so much in so little time. I miss you so much everyday, and I am so glad our friendship has survived the distance.