Since the day I started college, I knew that my social life was about to drastically change. Friends that I had made during high school and my time training as a dancer were the people I saw every day and felt most comfortable with. When we all decided on different college and career paths, it really set in that our friendships might weaken or even end.
The thought of being thousands of miles apart from a friend in Holland to hundreds of miles apart from a friend in Florida (where I live), made me uneasy and frankly, sad. Did this mean that my friendships were over? Were these important people in my life going to forget about me? I rolled these questions around in my mind over and over. Luckily, I realized that it does take effort and strength to keep a friendship alive, especially a long distance one. These strong connections don’t have to end. They just need to evolve.
Just like going to a new school or entering a new job, you have to adapt to the idea of change among friends. Instead of having face-to-face conversations like you are used to, text messages, phone calls, and social media can go a long way. Sure, there is a convenience factor when a friend is physically in your daily life, but if you truly want to stay connected to this person, you will find time to communicate. Adjusting to my friends’ new schedules made it easier to know when to call, text, or video chat. Sometimes, I feel emotionally closer to them than I ever have, because we appreciate this limited quality time.
Social media can play a beneficial role in communication if you do so with caution. Many nights I would open Snapchats and scroll through Instagram to find my friends were out having adventures and meeting all kinds of exciting people. I couldn’t help but feel jealousy and resentment toward the fun they were having without me. These feelings can escalate quickly and before you know it, you are in a dark place of insecurity, wondering if this person still considers you a close friend. The best thing you can do to avoid these doubts is to step away from it. Once I stopped checking social media quite as often, I felt less of that burning jealousy that can instantly overcome you with one tap of the like button.
Another obstacle in my evolving friendships was learning to let go. At one time, my friends from high school and I were really close, more like family than friends. But now, the dynamic has changed. I still care about these friends deeply, and I know they care about me, yet we all had to emotionally let go a bit and give each other the freedom to go our separate ways. The ones that still make time for you are the true friends. The ones that you want to keep close, no matter the physical distance between you.
Now that I’ve adjusted to the separation, I am grateful that my friendships had the opportunity to evolve. Instead of just giving up, I maintained a connection with people I really care about. I love my friends, and I plan I being in their lives for as long as I can.