It’s been little over half a year now that i’ve graduated from university, but it feels like ages ago. Somehow I feel like life has only started after my graduation. As mentioned before in a previous post, i’ve lived a large amount of time on an auto-pilot mode. Mostly related to my study though, just picking courses, making assignments, studying for exams. I didn’t think much really through but just did what was expected. Luckily, next to my studies I was able to build a vibrant social life: I joined a student association, a badminton association, met people at my studies and maintained high-school friendships. Nothing to complain and I was able to combine all of this pretty well with my study.
But then, it allll ended…. Just kidding! ;) But I did finish my studies and moved away to another city (first Rotterdam and now Utrecht) and got a full time job. I really needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. This new situation changed my social life completely as well and made my friendships long-distance. Well, it depends on what you call long-distance of course, in the Netherlands the distances aren’t too big ;) Let’s say many of my friends are now about 2-3 hours away, so I can’t visit them on a regular basis. This of course causes a dilemma: how to maintain these friendships and raises the question: Should I just start all over in this new city? Well the latter is not what I intend to do, but I will try to describe how I deal with this situation now.
Life is like a moving train, some people leave and other people enter
This is a quote I encountered quite early in my life, and has been quite important for me. Normally I hate those life quotes because I think they’re too empty and mainstream. However, this one feels really relevant for me, even already after moving to Groningen after high school. In high school i deemed it really important to have a typical ‘best friend’, whom you share everything with. I feel like I did have a friend like that in high school, but we grew apart and both moved to different cities (quite funny she lives in Utrecht as well, so we started reconnecting :)) As I was quite hurt by it, I made the decision to handle friendships more loosely. Probably because I also had a boyfriend back then – who I saw as my best friend – I didn’t feel the need to get a best friend again. I found it more important to have a stable small group of friends instead of focussing my attention on one.
Especially when you’re young, everyone goes through so many changes in their live, meeting different people, living in different cities, having different experiences. It seems logical that it changes people and also changes friendships as a result. I think its interesting to see how at some periods you get closer to different people and the next moment these friendships fade away. Some people you don’t expect to speak ever again, come back into your life and it feels just natural.
First step in maintaining long-distance friendships is have a positive attitude towards traveling. Traveling to see your friends i SO worth it :)! Of course it can be expensive at times, but because of the fact you have to travel to see someone, it makes the meet up more special in some way. I just see it as a nice trip to get away from daily life, which made more valuable memories than just meeting up with someone who lives closeby. I think its definitely worth the money to do this, but of course opinions differ. Now that I moved away, I’m also quite curious who invests time and money to come to visit me. Sometimes people that you don’t expect travel all the way there, but you’ll also can be disappointed sometimes of people you expect that would have visited you soon but haven’t yet or maybe never will! To me it’s quite a big indication of who your real friends are, who really puts in effort to maintain the friendship:)
DO: Combine friends
Most of the time, people you like, your friends will also like. Cause you basically like people who are similar as yourself, so probably most of your friends are quite similar in their interests (not saying completely similar personalities). If you’re short on time, I think its perfectly acceptable to ‘combine’ people. If you for instance want to go to a nice party, you can invite friends that don’t know each other. Probably they’d like to meet your other friends, but in general meeting new people can be exciting! Of course, some people don’t mix and match as well, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised :) In this way, if you have less time to meet up with different people, seeing more at the same time can be definitely be a good idea!
DO: Make decisions
However, If any friendship costs you more energy than it gives you, you should end it. Sometimes friends can have break-ups too, maybe not officially and probably more gradually, but still. It’s not like I recommend you to purposely ban people out of your life, but you’ve got to make decisions in what friendship you want to put time and effort in which one not. Especially now that I’m working full-time, I cannot go for meet up with tons of different people during a day. I’m already happy if I can meet up with one (or a combination, like mentioned above;))! Especially when you start dating someone, you notice that you have less and less time to maintain friendships next to it. This can be quite confronting, so it’s also quite a big decision if you want to do this. Be sure to not completely set aside friendships for a love interest though, thats the stupidest thing you can do haha ;) They always say boys are temporary, friendships are forever! Well not really, but that’s a whole different topic :P
DON’T: Spend too much time on your phone
Especially when you’re not able to see each other often, you might feel the need to stay updated on each others life through your phone. Always when I leave my friends behind for some time (studying abroad in Ireland, moving to another city), I tend to whatsapp them a lottttt. Cause I’m afraid to loose touch, but as a results, I’m always running behind because it’s simply impossible to keep in touch with everyone through mobile messages. During your student life, it’s way easier to message anyone at anytime you like and people expect a quick reply as well! But now that I’m working, I really cannot constantly text people, because it makes me very unproductive! That’s why I kind of ‘schedule’ time for when I answer messages, I still do read all of them all the time. But don’t answer them right away, cause you’ll end up with more and more replys. Also, just calling someone is probably most effective, however this is what I do more with family than friends. What I do with some friends are voice messages, cause it can sometimes be quite hard to find the right time that you both are able to have a phone/skype conversation. Sometimes I just record a voice message to answer text messages or just to talk a bit. The other person can just listen to it whenever they want and it feels really personal to receive one I think :)
All in all, I can say I did already make some decisions on how to invest in what friendship and to what extent. Some may be more intense than others, but also the less intense ones could be really fun! With some people it’s just always nice to hang out, no matter how long you haven’t seen or spoken them :) Furthermore, I’m very open to meeting new people in Utrecht, however it’s not my focal point of attention. Especially because I know more and more friends will move into the Utrecht direction in the future! Final quote of the day, cause I love them so much ;) :
As long as you don’t expect too much, you can’t really be disappointed. Only pleasantly surprised!