Friendship. It might be the most important relationship to have ever existed. Friends change you for the better. They challenge you, feed you when you have no money, make you laugh and listen to you while you cry on their shoulder. They can be more like family than family has ever been. Friends are the ones that we know choose us, no matter what.

If you're anything like me, you have at least one friend that lives far, far away. Whether it's a friend who lives halfway across the country, or one who is just a few hours' drive, long distance friendships are the tricky reality of most college students. Currently, out of my best friends, the one most accessible to me lives 250 miles away. That is a four hour drive, or a 75 hour walk (thank you, Google).

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I, like many of my college friends, am finding that to be painfully true this summer. As both an extrovert and a very social creature, my friends are key to my survival. Mentally, emotionally and even sometimes physically, due to my accident-prone nature. I am spending three months away from my people, and I think those around me are getting tired of the complaints.

“What about your friends from before college?” you say. Well, my very best friends from childhood live on the East Coast while I reside in the mid-west. Not exactly ideal for keeping up the bestie bond.

I try my hardest to keep up with my friends and stay involved in their lives, but it’s not always the easiest task. My readers with long-distance best friends know what I’m talking about.

We call him/her on FaceTime, in hopes of talking for even 10 minutes, only to receive no answer for the eighth day in a row.

We mail letters and packages containing candy and other cheap things that make us think of the other.

We post sappy captions on an Instagram picture because we're missing our best friend a little more today than usual.

We make plans for the next time we see each other, even if that is two years away.

We hug and cry when we are finally reunited.

Through all of the struggles, all of the "I miss you" text messages, I know that my best friends will always be there. There is something special about a friendship that can last over long distances, and something even more special about one that can thrive over distance and time. Knowing that your friend is putting in an effort, making time to talk to you, thinking of you and your inside jokes, that is enough to know that your friendship will always last. These are the friends that I call at two in the morning when life sucks.

Long distance friendships have a lot to teach us. Patience. Perseverance. Faithfulness. Love. My friends may not get to see my horrible sunburn in person this summer. They may not have been there when the fire alarm went off at four in the morning during finals week. They may not be able to physically be here when I need them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t here. They still listen, comfort and challenge me every day. They push through the distance. They choose me and our friendship every time they text, call or FaceTime.

So thank you, long distance friends, for being the ones that we can always count on to be there. Thank you for being the ones to teach us what friendship is all about.