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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?