Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Dear Friends

Hey guys!

So this post is a rather spontaneous one. The topic I want to talk about was inspired by a couple of conversations I had lately and a novel which I read at the end of last year. I would really like to hear your opinions and/or stories!

During the last 3 or 4 years my social life has undergone quite some changes. Finishing school and starting university, meeting new people there, being out and about more, leaving my comfort zone more often then I used to, having 'old friends' move out of town for their university choices, turning away from school friendships, developing rather superficial friendships from school into 'real' ones after school, having friends leaving the country for quite some time for experiences that having finished school or being at uni enabled them to do, myself having to go abroad for a few weeks (which I talked about in multiple previous posts) and also making new friends there.

It's a big topic so I'll try and break it down into some categories.
Starting with finishing school and starting uni: Finishing school was a strange experience for me personally because a big part of my life would change drastically and I had no plan worked out of what I wanted to job-wise like most of my peers had (I still don't have one to be honest). I'd have to decide what I wanted to do from then on. Having gone for studying at uni and having found a subject which I found interesting (British and American Studies - as my major) I ended up enrolling at a university in a neighbouring city. Given I am a very undecisive person in that respect (and many others!), this alone was quite a task. That also meaning that noone I knew was going there or studying the same subject but also not having to move out (which I definitely could not imagine at that point in time!) because I could go there by train.
In the beginning of course I being a rather introverted and quiet person who worries a lot was a bit nervous if I would make new friends there but I ended up finding some really good friends which I do not want to miss now. At this point I should probably begin a bit further back.
Rewind: I myself was never a person with a whole lot of friends around me. Also, the group of people I was around has changed multiple times in the many phases of my life so far. I have never really had one best friend neither, I was always more of a person who had separate little groups of close people or even single persons who I was in close friendships with. When I was in school, although I was never completely on my own, I was worried I did not belong anywhere really but now I wonder why I even worried about that. There is nothing wrong with separate groups of friends, perhaps friends who would not get along with other friends but why would that be a problem? The thing that matters is actually the connection between you and the other person and not between you, the other person and everyone else, isn't it?
After leaving school, a luxury which was seeing my friends everyday without having to make time for meeting them to catch up was gone from one day to the other. Of course not having to see certain other people everyday could be seen as quite a luxury which I don't want to miss as well, not gonna lie.
Keeping this in mind, now there is the question of who you are actually willing to make time for and what you would want to or even could talk about when not experiencing the same things day to day, knowing the same people. Have there been people in your life which you considered friends because  maybe they once were or because it was just a habit because they were there anyway? This may sound rude but I think, this is a rather unconscious behaviour, I don't mean it in a mean way in which you only use the 'once-before-friends' for your profit or something like that.
Which leads me to the next question: What do you actually define as a friend? 
Is a superficial friendship even a friendship or is it maybe more an acquaintance which is not a bad thing but maybe more functional? Sometimes this question does not even have to be answered by yourself consciously. With time, it will be emerging by itself. It can be hard, but you might be surprised that in some cases it maybe isn't all that hard after all. Who is interested in keeping the contact? Who do you want to meet in person still? Who do you want to share your experiences and thoughts with and who maybe not (anymore)? Is the effort that you put into keeping the friendship alive appreciated by the other person? If not, maybe it is worth considering letting go of that person because it would possibly just harm your feelings desparately trying to preserve it when there is no such response after all. Sometimes it can be more beneficial to invest your energy in the friendships that still exist in reality, not only in those which you wish would still exist. And this can be applied to any friendships, not only the school friendships, I think.
Coming to the fake friends. At times, we may come across people in our lives who pretend to be our friends for whatever reason. Maybe to presume on our good nature, maybe to make fun of us behind our back to the delight of others, maybe because of a collecting habit (the more, the better), you tell me more possible reasons...
As you can probably tell, I don't quite understand such people. I mean, do they not have something better to do than putting their energy in something like that which at one point will either hurt or disappoint the other person? It cannot possibly feel that enriching doing that, can it? I guess, the older you become, the less frequent you will be faced with fake friends (I hope that for everyone at least!!!) because being cool in front of others gets more unimportant. You still know people who do stupid stuff like that? Feel pity for them.
One more thing for school friends and friends in general: You may have noticed some people slowly but steadily leaving your circle but this is a normal development. Outgrowing a friendship is okay and it's normal. As we get older we develop as individuals, we find new interests, let go of old ones, change our opinions and values. I guess, the base of friendships is fundamentally similar beliefs and values. Personalities can vary greatly I think based on my own experience (my friends are very different from each other and most of them also very different from myself personality-wise) but isn't this also the part which makes it interesting spending time with them? When I think of my own reasons why I like spending time with my friends and why I admire them apart from them being nice in general - obviously - they are hearing their point of view on things, about the things they are passionate about, the things that are on their minds and reminding ourselves of funny experiences from the past. Who doesn't enjoy being silly from time to time? Wouldn't it be boring if they were exactly like yourself or think the same way about everything? 
They can also be a big source of inspiration, at least that is the case for me - some of my friends, I feel like, just have it together, they know what they want to achieve and they're going for it, others follow their passions, others again maybe don't have an entirely planned life but that's cool too because it makes me feel less anxious about my own situation.
Coming back to uni life. Only in recent years I started really enjoying spending my spare time with my friends. Especially now that many of them live in different parts of the country, the opportunities of seeing them regularly have obviously decreased massively but I found that the friends which I refer to as the real friends are still accessible (also: quality over quantity is sometimes true). The ones we can turn to with whatever is on our minds, to share excitement, to ask for advice or help, to be understood by, to be cheered up by. The ones who even after a long time of not seeing them or talking to them too long, who make it feel like you have last talked to them yesterday and the mutual trust is still there. Sometimes, which I experienced recently, it is also not enough seeing certain friends in a group meeting. It's a nice thing to have but one-on-one conversations are just incomparable and important for the bond between the two. 
Occasionally, your friends might not only have moved away but spend some time even outside the country. I guess, being it a year+, a few months or just a few weeks can open your eyes about certain friendships, whether it is the other person or even yourself leaving for some time.
This is the time, in which I thank social media for its existence. A friend of mine had gone to the US for a year after school (during and especially after this time our friendship actually developed into a real friend-friendship rather than a superficial one) and to Ireland for three months which is still going at the moment. Another friend has spent six months in Russia and eight weeks in Poland during her studies. Another one left for three months or so for Costa Rica after school as a voluntary farm worker. Did these friendships fall apart because of physical distance? No, they did not - because they are real ones and both parties cared about the friendship. 
I mentioned social media here because nowadays it's really not that hard to keep in touch with each other as long as you have internet access and the will to do so, so don't use too much effort or distance as an excuse! Also, there is still something called postcards (which I collect with pleasure). I don't know anyone who wouldn't like one in their letter box from all over the world (or just another city to be honest).
Continuing with the friends I made during my stay abroad: Obviously and unfortunately, I'm not able to visit them where I was staying or where they normally live because they live in other countries after all - but again, with internet and willpower you can keep in touch which I am really glad about. Switching to the friends I already had, spending some time abroad as well as losing a common place to be each day (as the school, like I mentioned above) can be eye-opening for noticing which people still care about you and which ones do not. But even if you find yourself in the situation of realizing that there are certain people who you thought were your friends but maybe consider they could possibly not be anymore, communication is always the first thing to turn to. Maybe it just has to be refreshed and just leaving things as they are has never changed them, right? 

Okay, this is it. I hope I didn't forget anything which I was going to mention but if you could share your view on this topic with me, I would be very happy indeed.

See you soon

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