“Friendships come and go; you’ll make new friends.” Is one of the most unhelpful pieces of true advice I have ever received.
I’ve heard this saying plenty of times, whether it be when I moved, when I switched soccer teams, when my friend group abruptly dissolved one summer, and more recently, when I was graduating college.
While there were moments when I doubted it, I am certain now it is true- I will always make new friends. It’s the nature of life. And yet, when I’m faced with the departure of someone meaningful to me from my life, that thought has never been comforting. In fact, sometimes it just felt wrong.
For years, people who I cared about would say this as they prepared to disappear into the fabric of space and time never to be heard from again, or my parents would remind me of it as we stopped going to see another set of friends. It wasn’t until the very last month of my very last semester in college that one of my friends finally pointed out a simple but powerful truth: you can choose to stay friends.
As adults, we are no longer powerless to the whims of our parents, or where the world wants to take them for their work. We have the ability to get in a car, hop on a plane if necessary, and go see our friends.
We have the ability, thanks to the overflowing amount of ways to communicate with people nowadays from social media to actually calling them, to stay in touch, no matter the distance, no matter the years.
It’s all a matter of choice.
Of course, it’s a two way street. One person can’t be doing all the work, all the time. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be the one to message first. That doesn’t mean that, just because someone didn’t find time in their busy lives to contact you in awhile that they don’t want to hear from you. In fact, being the one to brave the first message is one of the reasons that, from each of these groups I’ve left behind, I’ve also carried some good friends with me.
I can’t always say that silence makes a friendship stronger, and absence makes a heart grow fonder. There are certainly “friends” I would like to talk to more, to see how they have really grown and changed in the time that we have been apart. Maybe we’re too different now, and it is time to go separate ways. But there are plenty of others that just with a simple, short exchange remind me what wonderful people they are, and how I enjoy having them in my life.
The true fate of friendship depends on you. If you make the effort, if you find someone who is worth making the effort for, and share a real connection with them, it doesn’t matter the circumstances that try to pull you apart.
Now we all have to say goodbye to our friends sometimes in life, whether they live thirty minutes up the road or five hundred miles away. The key is to think of those goodbyes as like the second hug in the airport, after all the tears have been shed and all the goodbyes have been said. The pain of leaving your friend has already started to fade away, and you’re just looking ahead to the adventure before you, knowing that while you are leaving your friends and family behind, you can always fly home, and you can always be friends for, well, a lifetime.