Friendships and Long Distance

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

For many reasons, friendships feel harder nowadays. Mainly, I think, as a result of getting older: we all have jobs or permanent commitments that take up most of our time. The wonderful thing about friendships in a school-environment is that you all have similar--if not the same--schedules. It's easier to squeeze in coffee or studying, or picking a specific day to always grab lunch together. We were doing life together in the same place, and it was so simple to combine quality time with things you needed to do as a student.

Now it's much harder because some of us work all day, some are still (grad) students, and more often than not, there's different time zones involved! Luckily, no one I know has moved into the juggling-their-children's-schedule as well...but I know it will only get trickier as the years go on and time becomes an even more precious commodity.

Carly wrote a great post earlier this year about watching friends around you succeed. For me, I think it more feels like watching friends live their lives from long distance...most don't post regularly on social media anymore (nor do I, for that matter). A few aren't even online anymore. Which can be a good thing, because it forces us to actually tend to the friendship, check in with each other, intentionally carve out time.

On the other hand, however, and more often than not, it's harder to check in. Carrying out a full text conversation isn't always feasible during the workday, and unless you ask a specific question or someone volunteers information, it's difficult to know what's going on in someone's life--good or bad. I find when our different lives get busy, setting aside specific time often falls to the wayside.

I follow quite a few Londoners who work in the fashion/design/beauty/online content industry and I can't help envying how connected one can be in a big city. I often text one of my friends bemoaning the size of America...most people in England can reasonably catch a train into London for the day or evening, even if they live outside the city. Same goes for New York, LA, and even Nashville--even if you don't have a surplus of friends present, the networking circle for making acquaintances in those fields seems to be so wide!

The truth is, the friends you have so much history with and who know you so well are the ones you want to invite over for coffee or a festive dinner party, or weekend catch-up on the couch. But those friends all live in various states and cities.

And since we're not quite in that season of life where we're older and (hopefully) more financially stable, spontaneous weekend trips and planned flights aren't something most of us can regularly work into the budget. We're still in the trying to "lay a strong enough foundation" part of our lives...

As it stands now, I think about friendship almost weekly—wonder about it, wrestle with it. My friendships with women have always been incredibly complex, dear, and sometimes far more difficult than any male friendships I had in high school or college. There is something fierce and precious about friendship with another’s such a treasured relationship and yet so fragile. So easily dampened or stalled by comparison, distance, and busyness. Yet--they are the ones who send a thoughtful text out of the blue, ask to call, share the horrifyingly embarrassing moments that can only happen if you're female, or discuss the Royal Family in extensive detail. 

Adult friendships, I'm learning, are what we make of them. I suspect everyone has a different definition or viewpoint on friendships outside of school...but to me, friends are the people you get do life with--the extended family that you choose. They're there for you during the breakups, the moves, the birthdays, and the job interviews. We all have our own lives, but we make the time to cheer each other on.