On Friendships and Moving Around

Sometimes I envy my friends who still have really close buddies from their primary school or high school years. Not just “I-know-him/her-from-high-school” type of friends but the type of friends that are so close that they still go on holidays with them every summer. The type of friends that know them inside out, that they are practically family. I realized that I don’t really have this kind of friendships.

Don’t get me wrong I have close friends but it’s just not the same.

During my 26 years of life, I have moved around quite a lot. Although perhaps not as many as some travellers friends of mine, but for me it is quite a lot. Moving around has its positives and negatives. On one side I got to experience different cultures and meet many people, but on the other side, I never got that “stable” friendships.

I spent 8 years in Salatiga, a small town in Central Java. I stayed in this small city until year 5 of my primary school. I remember I had some close friends in my primary school whom I enjoyed laughing and playing around with. Then at the age of 10, I had to move to England. It was hard for me to move and meet new people. I wanted to be with the friends that I knew. All my primary school friends told me they would stay in touch, and vice versa. We tried our best. We exchanged letters (yes! Letters! E-mail didn’t exist back then!) but by the time those letters reached England, I was already one month behind of their life. After a few months, those letters faded and both my friends and I moved on. We went to high school and met new friends. And just like that, our once close friendship turned into “I once knew a girl in my class who moved to England”.

High school for me was exciting. I had a bunch of girls from my class who were really close to me. We had sleepovers, played in our girl’s hockey team, celebrated birthdays, giggled whenever our crushes went passed. We also had the fall outs, the fights – but it was never long. I remember buying a bunch of  “best friends forever” bracelets and gave it to several friends because I couldn’t decide who were my best best friend. When I left England, four and half years later, they threw me a leaving party. We cried, hugged and promised we would always stay in touch, we would be that “best friends forever” stated on our bracelets.

Emily (from England) came to France after 9 years of not seeing each other!

Back in Indonesia, my high school friends and I did keep in touch for the longest time. Now that e-mails and Facebook were trending, we were constantly talking and exchanging information. I loved getting their messages, even when it was as simple as “hey, you know that B is now going out with X??”, because I knew who B and X were. I was still in their circle, even though I was miles away. I tried my best to introduce them to my new circle, the people from my new high school, like my new best friend and my new boyfriend. They always responded well. This went on for quite a while, and then at some point it stopped. From their side, they had some new circles, they had some fall out and new people were joining them.

I didn’t have that many friends in my new high school, only one very good friend. When we started university, we still met up once in a while since we lived in the same city, but our time were consumed mostly at our own university (she went to a different one to mine) and our new friends. My uni years were one of the best times of my life. I met amazing people, really close people that gets me and we did a bunch of things together. I was particularly close with 3 girls, whom till this day I’m still in contact with.

My partners in crime at uni

However, only three and a half years later, we all graduated and took a job. We were all split up in Jakarta and Yogyakarta. I was in Jakarta and thought this was the end, I would never meet people who I could be close with. I innocently thought the working environment would be vicious and I wouldn’t be able to trust people to be my close friends. Of course I was proven wrong when I met some of the nicest people. I really enjoyed their friendship.

At my leaving party with my work friends before moving to Europe

Two years later, I received a scholarship to study abroad. Again I said goodbye to my bunch at work and dreaded the idea of being in a new country. Most of all I dreaded not having friends. However from day one of my being in France, already I felt connections with certain people in my programme. For two years, we struggled and worked hard together, and we became such close friends.

Now that I’m back in Indonesia, I often meet friends from my primary school/high school/uni years and in our conversations I realized how much we have changed. Some already have kids so their priority has changed, some are young executives in Jakarta, some have businesses of their own, some don’t understand my way of life and some try to accept and cheer me on. We all have changed, and I guess it’s ok.

Moving around so much has led me to having many friends from different parts of the world. I admit that I struggle to keep in touch with the friends that I made during my younger years. Back then, we had simpler thoughts and I realize now we have different ways of thinking. I am glad though that occasionally I get news from my primary school friends. I was really happy when two of my high school friends visited me in France, after 9 years of not seeing each other. We talked, and yes a lot has changed, but I’m glad they still remember our bond from when we were younger and still want me to peek into their new life.

Reunited with best buddy Christa whom I met in Jakarta

A lot of my friends who don’t move around as much as me have really tight friends from their childhood. Until now, they still go on holidays together and know each other really well. I know that I don’t have this kind of friendship but I like to think that I have many friends that I know from different parts of my life in many parts of the world.

I never regret the decision I made in the past to move around, because from it I met interesting people and friends who are precious to me. Yes, long distance friendships are hard to keep. It’s a lot of hard work too. Sometimes I forget to reply e-mails from my friends, other times we struggle to find the right time to Skype, but we manage.

I guess there are times in my life when I miss my friends (who live far away) terribly and I get scared of being alone, of not having friends. However, it’s been proven so far, that I will always be meeting friends, old and new, that brightens up my day, no matter where they are in the world, making me feel that I’m not alone. My experience has also taught me that it’s important for me to understand that some friendships just fade and I need to let it go. It’s ok to let go of some friendships because people go in different directions in life. It’s totally ok to loose touch. It’s ok to not understand your friends from the past. It’s also important to know that some people may just come into my life for a split second, but it’s not how long they stay in my life but really what impact they have made in my life. It took some time for me to convince all these to myself without feeling guilty.

New friends in Singapore

I know that even though I “lost” some good friendships in the past, I have a lot of amazing friendships now. Keeping a friendship is a two way street, so I am forever thankful for my friends who keep in touch with me. I am grateful for the friends who keep their ears open for my stories, even though they don’t know half of what I’m talking about as it involves new people they have never heard of.  I am also thankful for those who came into my life for a short time, because they too have made a difference in my life. I know there are many friends that I would like to keep around for the rest of my life even though we are far from each other. I am also blessed to have met some amazing new friends from being a travel blogger. I guess when I think about it, I don’t need to worry about not having friends.

Have you moved around so much that it’s hard for you to keep a friendship? Do you feel guilty when a friendship just looses its touch?

24 Comment

  1. I can relate to this, Gy. I’ve been through the same situation. Sometime when I see my FB timeline, I envy my friends who still hang out together and very close to each other. But I guess life has some changing phases. And I’m still grateful to meet new people and new friends…..one of them is you 🙂

    1. Awwww Deb! It’s always nice to have friends who have experienced the same thing 🙂 So glad to have met you!

  2. Letters? Gosh, you’re old! 😛 Kidding, I did write my fair share of letters back in the day too. (Also, you’re only two years older than me so we’re both equally old, haha).

    Sadly I have never moved from Bucharest (although I did move into my own place just a couple of weeks ago), but I’ve learned that friendships come and go. I’ve lost touch with everyone from my middle school when I graduated and the best friends forever I made in highschool were almost gone when we went to university (although we did try to keep in touch and meet every now and then). I realized a lot of my friendships faded by the time school was over, so now I’m grateful for the friends I have (and the things they have to put up while dealing with me, ha!) 🙂

    Somewhat unrelated: you should totally come to Romania next year, at that wedding! 😉

    1. Hahaha yes Vlad I am that old! It’s great to hear your perspective, that even when you stay in one place, people will change anyway. I guess that’s ok and it’s great you still have close friends too. I will definitely try my best to come to Romania next year! Would be awesome to meet you 🙂

      1. Hopefully I won’t be abroad when you come (see, it’s a matter of when, not if 😉 ), but I guess you’ll know quite early so we can make plans. 😀

        1. Hahaha I love that you wrote “when” too – I am so excited of the prospect of being in Romania next year!

  3. Aggy I would come and meet you soon.

    1. Seriously? Come! Yes! 😀

  4. Such a thoughtful post, Aggy. Loved how you mentioned about letting go of certain friendships. Sadly, it is something we all need to do at some point in our lives as we all change, grow and become different versions of our former selves. To me, this can only mean we have more room for new friendships and new memories.

    And to you and Vlad – if you all think you’re old, I am ancient :p

    1. Thanks Kavitha. As sad as it is, we do have to go through this process and it’s always great to make new friends, especially those with the same vision as you have now.

      Haha, I’m pretty sure you’re not ancient dear. I may be “young” but trust me I have an old soul 😉

      1. An old soul is the best kind of soul, in my opinion 😉

  5. aku boleh bangga nggak karena ditakdirkan jadi temenmu? 🙂

    1. Bangga? Hahaha boleh boleh 😀

  6. Such a lovely, honest post, Aggy. And, although we’ve only ever spoken online, I genuinely think you’re one of the loveliest people around – so don’t ever change 🙂 Keep in touch with the people that matter, and enjoy meeting new friends 🙂 xx

    1. Thanks Emily you are so sweet! I think of you the same way – lovely people should meet up somewhere someday, don’t you agree? 😉

  7. True friends are those whom you do not need to communicate much on a daily basis yet they are the ones who will come to your rescue whenever you need help and you will just pick up the conversation from where you left off the last time. Distance is not a problem now with affordable air tickets and social media! 😀

    Some people just comes and go in your life, that is the fact of life that we all gonna accept but it makes us cherish more of those friends who made the effort to keep the friendships too. 🙂

    1. I agree! However, when you are so close when you were younger and then move away, it is a little bit difficult to keep in touch and always be in the know of what’s going on. But you are right, those who stay in touch are definitely the special ones!

  8. Gattt fotoku elek tenannn hahahaha…!

    Hello girl! We had a rocky introduction. I was scared of you (LOL) and you didn’t like me very much at start. By some weird twist of fate, we became besties. So honored to have a bestie like you. Looking forward to our next travels!

    1. Bahahaha it was such a weird introduction if you think about it. I think our time in Puncak made me changed my mind about you 😛
      So honoured that you are my bestie too and that we can understand each other’s craziness!

  9. I have nearly experience like youuu…
    I moved city almost every 2-5 years of my life. That made me didn’t have close friends because they always thought that I’m different. But in university, I make friends with another 5 girls, because I don’t know, just happy with them. We struggled together in our hard building world, hahaa.. And after 17 years, we are still contact each other, just this afternoon. No of us have same hobby, so we can share our story with different view.

    One thing that we dream is someday we go holiday together and chit chat about nothing like our favorite tv shows, the friendship at sex and the city 😀

    1. How lucky you are! I have yet to have friendships that are as long as 17 years, but I’m getting there 🙂
      The best thing about moving around is that we get so many friends from different places – and that is always fun!

  10. it’s been a while since the last time i read your blog and i stuck with this post. i read something on 9gag that tells:
    “the worst way for friendships to end is for literally nothing go wrong, you just stop talking each other, they stop messaging you to see how you’re doing and the friendship just go down the drain and you never hear anything from them again.”
    i’ve done this with my elementary, junior and senior high school friends, we just stop chat each other. sadly but true. i hope this would never happen again.

    1. Hi Venny, I am so sorry to hear that but I am also familiar with that kind of situation. I guess things like that happens, but hey, we move on and hopefully will gain more friends in the future 🙂

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