One of my biggest regrets in life is that I wasn’t able to grow up in one place. My family was constantly moving, and as a result, I got good at making friends in new places. I always felt like I was intruding, though. I yearn to have the same experiences that many of my friends did. I wish I had gone to preschool with my classmates and had been there at kindergarten graduation. I wonder what it would be like to stumble my way through school with the same people by my side. How would we have grown up? Would we have stayed friends? What would we have ended up doing with our lives?
For most of my life, I felt like I couldn’t have the answers to these questions. Every two years, my family would pick up and move, so how could I? However, with the help of Instagram and Facebook, I learned that it was possible. By simply following my old friends on social media, I could keep up with their lives. I could see how and what they were doing. Sadly, I used this as an excuse not to reach out to people. Whenever my mom would ask me how one of my old friends was doing, I had the same standard response: “Well, I saw on Instagram that they…”
Instagram was a handy tool for keeping up with people, but it built up my anxiety about talking to those who had meant a lot to me. Until one day, I decided I was going to reach out to my friends. I wanted to see how they were doing, and I wanted to have an actual conversation.
I started with my oldest friends I could think of. I lived in Kansas City, Missouri, from the second grade until the fourth grade. During that time, I was friends with two girls: Laura and Sophia. All three of us lived in the same neighborhood on the same street. I remember us riding our bikes up and down the road, playing capture the flag and walking to the neighborhood pool together. In the winter, we would go sledding in the fresh snow and give our best attempts at building snowmen. Missouri was one of the only places I lived where there was an active group of kids to play with in my neighborhood. Maybe that’s why I remember Laura and Sophia so well.
Once I moved, I still talked to them over the phone sometimes. After about a year, maybe less, our conversations dwindled down to nothing. When I reached out to them to see how they were, I was surprised that they responded.
Laura is now studying advertising and film at The University of Kansas. In her free time, she likes to make art and videos, which makes sense. She was always creative when we were kids. Living with her dog Aspen and her boyfriend, her life seems to be going well. I’m happy for her.
Sophia also went to KU for college and graduated in May. When I talked to her, she told me she had just gotten into law school, and she offered to answer any questions I had about the LSAT when I take it in the future.
Once I moved away from Missouri, I went to Terre Haute, Indiana. I lived there fourth through sixth grade. While living there, I met three of my best and oldest friends: Faith, Hope and Rachel. Those girls ended up becoming some of the closest friends I would ever have. Maybe it’s because we went through the traumatizing experience of puberty together.
Despite what I would describe as a strong connection, I didn’t keep up with Faith, Hope and Rachel the way I should have. I mostly kept my distance and watched through Instagram, as I did with my friends before them. Now and then, I would also visit. In high school, I flew to Indiana to help Faith and Rachel get ready for prom, and during the summer, I went back for Hope’s wedding. However, I haven’t had a conversation with any of them since the summer.
When I last saw Faith, she was transferring schools. She is happy at her new school but misses Rachel, her twin. She also took comfort in the fact that time had not improved my ability to spell.
Hope was also doing well since her wedding in the summer. Her husband had just been activated in the army. They had even gotten a new dog.
When I talked to Rachel, I found that she had just changed her major for the second time. Nursing was out. I reassured her that no one our age knows what they are doing anyway. We both realized how much we had missed talking to each other.
At first, the idea of reaching out to my old friends seemed crazy and awkward. I didn’t think anyone would respond, but they all did.
I was telling my mom about how I had tried to reach out to everyone, and she gave me some valuable advice: you have to make an effort to keep up with people.
When I called my mom, she had just gotten back from visiting New York with one of her oldest friends that she met about 20 years ago. She explained that just checking up on people means a lot. It’s important to keep friendships going because we all rely on each other.
Mother knows best; friendships are invaluable, and we only need them more as we get older. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people that meant a lot to you at some point in your life. It might seem awkward and uncalled for, but in reality, it’s a way for us to show people how much they meant to us and how much we cared for them.