Over the past year I've been sharing all of the amazing things about moving home. Being closer to my family, my new opportunities, the benefits of living in a small town. But I haven't shared too much of the tough parts of this move. Mainly, leaving my friends in Kentucky.
Long distance friendships are tough, no matter what age you are or the reasons behind one of you (or both of you) moving away. It's a big adjustment to go from seeing your friends every week or even every day, to only seeing them on a screen or a few times a year. I know for me, that's been the most challenging part of my move - and it's something I'm still struggling with almost a year later.
Sometimes I feel like I'm missing important moments in my friend's lives, or I'm not as good of a friend to them because I'm not there all the time. To be honest, I beat myself up a ton when I first moved back because I wasn't able to be there for my friends the way I was used to.
I had multiple melt-downs last summer/fall because I felt like the worst Maid of Honor in the world when I decided to move across the country 3 months before my best friend's wedding. But here's the thing - we had the best week when I went back to Kentucky to celebrate! Plus, we were on the phone every single day planning, brainstorming and getting each other excited for her big day! Sure, I felt horrible that I couldn't be there in person for most of the planning and prep work - but once I got there it was that much more special because we were able to spend quality time together and enjoy such a big moment in her life (while still having our own fun throughout that week).
For me, the hardest part about long distance friendships is missing the small moments. You can plan for big events or big moments. You can take time off, get a flight and make sure you're there. But what happens when your friend gets sick, or they have a bad day and need a shoulder to cry on? What about when you want to b*tch about your day to someone who knows you better than you know yourself? Or when you want to spontaneously make margaritas and sit on the porch in the sun and just be silly? There have been so many texts back and forth between my friends and I since I moved along the lines of "I miss you." "This is stupid." "Why did I move so far away?" - you get the idea. So, I've had to make it a point to use technology to my advantage. Now, it's nothing for me to spend 2+ hours on the phone or on a Facetime call with my best friends just catching up. Half the time I'm on the phone with my best friend Sabrina we're just doing work, watching TV or running errands! Honestly, we talk so much and spend so much time on the phone my family doesn't even question it when I walk into the house talking to her.
It's also become the norm for me to use my drive home from work as the time I catch up with my friends. I've posted before about how much I love catching up with people on my way home, so it makes sense that this is something that helps me with managing missing my friends. I find that being able to catch up with your friends while you're commuting to work, going for walk or doing something that is otherwise not that interesting is a great way to keep in touch without making staying in touch with your friends become a "chore" or something to check off your to-do list.
The bottom line is long distance friendships are tough. If anyone tells you they aren't, they're either lying or they aren't that close to their friends. It's tough to balance wanting to be near your friends with wanting to explore and chase the opportunities available to you. But, they aren't impossible. Find ways to stay connected, plan trips to see each other, add a virtual friend date to your calendars. Whatever way you find to stay connected in your own way is fantastic. Believe me, it's so worth it to keep your friendships strong and spend time with your friends - even if you're only seeing them through a Facetime camera!