Friendship is a funny thing. Throughout life, people will wander in and out of your life. Many will come, few will stay. A true friendship is a special bond. We call many people friends when really they’re just acquaintances, people passing through. With life changes, inevitably, your friends change but is this a sacrifice you make whilst choosing life paths?
Throughout life, I’ve been thrown into situations where I’ve always made ‘friends’. In school, I got on with people and had friends, same with uni, same with various different jobs I’ve had but many of those ‘friendships’ ended the day I left school, the day I left uni or the day I left that job. You always say you’ll keep in touch but you never do. You sometimes manage it to begin with, even meeting up once or twice but usually in those situations, without the thing that brought you together as friends, there’s not a lot keeping you together as friends. You just drift…
My first realisation of drifting was when I started university. Prior to that, when you stopped being friends with someone, it was usually a big deal when your friendship was over, it wasn’t really something that just happened naturally. In my friendship group from home, I was the only one who moved away to study. Even though I was the one who left, the one making a brand new life, I still tried so hard to stay in contact. As time went on, conversations dwindled, response was neglected and it grew to the point where neither party was that bothered about remaining in contact. My life changed dramatically at uni and I lost what I had in common with people back at home.
Throughout uni, I bonded with fellow students over being away from home, our shared living space and our mutual course. Take all that away though and there was limited foundation for our friendship. I stayed in contact with one girl for about 18 months but once again, our paths and opinions shifted and with that, we shifted away from each other.
In various jobs, again, you connect with people over what you have in common: your work place. Some people you are genuinely friends with on the outside but others are simply work mates. When you leave or they leave, your friendship walks out the door too.
Throughout all of these scenarios, I’ve experienced friendships ending and drifting apart but nothing like when moving abroad. Whilst I was abroad my first year, everything was fine. I stayed in good contact with a lot of the people I considered a friend before I left. Whilst I was out of the country, all was well, it was when I returned that everything fizzled. Moving abroad changes you massively without you even realising. You meet people from other walks of life, live how the other half lives, have new experiences and interact with different cultures. Your eyes are opened up to a whole new world and you’re never the same again but you don’t realise until you return home.
It’s all fun and exciting at first. You can’t wait to see them and they’re looking forward to seeing you. You have long catch ups while you fill each other in on your life. Once you are all caught up though, you need a solid base and a good connection otherwise you’ll be left with an awkward silence. Whilst it is perfectly fine for them to talk about work, when you talk about work, because it is abroad, you’ll watch their eyes glaze over. You feel like you have to rein in what you really want to say for fear of boring them about your travels. Your friendship suddenly feels like you are treading on eggshells because all of a sudden, you’re on two completely different walks of life with nothing in common.
And that’s ok!
The best thing that moving abroad gave me was allowing me to find myself. My true friends knew that self all along and have stuck by me. Whilst I may only be able to count my friends on one hand, I am so incredibly grateful that they are true, honest-to-god friends and not just people passing through my life. True friends will always listen to your stories and if they’re sick of hearing, they’ll tell you. True friends can go months with seeing you but pick right back up where you left off. True friends are always connected to you, even when you’re heading down two different paths, you always come to a crossroad and never a dead end.
Although a lot of people I thought a few years ago were true friends are no longer in contact, I don’t feel like my decision to move abroad sacrificed those friendships. If I hadn’t taken that leap, I would have sacrificed myself for friendships that probably would have drifted anyway. The ones who are meant to be in my life, continue to walk beside me and whilst I don’t see them every day, maybe going a year or two, they’re always there and always continue to be.
Moving abroad helped me not only find myself but find who my true friends are. Nothing was sacrificed, I just left behind what was dragging me down.
All opinions are my own and just that: opinions. This blog post is not sponsored or endorsed in any way.