How To Survive Long Distance Friendships

How To Survive Long-Distance Friendships

With the right people, you can more than just survive long distance; you can thrive.

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As we get older and become adults, staying close to friends tends to get harder. Adult life can be full of trying to get through college classes, keep a job, stay healthy, figure out what you want in the future, and stay connected to the people that mean the most to you. Many days it can feel like an exhausting juggling act of keeping your school, work, social, spiritual, and personal life somewhat together. I think we all knew these things come with age to a certain extent, but somehow we thought it would be easier to juggle. Or maybe we knew many things would suffer, but never thought it would be those relationships closest to our hearts. That has definitely been the case for me.

Nearly everyone in my life has moved away to attend college, gotten married or just moved away in general.

I used to see friends at church multiple times a week and be able to plan outings often also. But when people started moving on, I wasn't prepared for the loneliness I experienced. More texts and emails were typed to each other. More letters and notes were written. More phone calls were dialed and voices heard on the other end in between breaks and vacations.

I always thought things would become more ideal when everyone came back, but now I'm the one leaving for the first time. For a lot of the times they are here, I will no longer be the person who is always here. I will no longer be close geographically to "my people" but they are still close to my heart and I will continue to invest in them if they are five minutes away or five-hundred miles.

Life often takes people across the city, across the state or even across the world from us.

People go to college, graduate school, pursue dreams, get jobs, get married, and eventually settle down. We can either lose our long-lasting friendships, or we can choose to fight harder to maintain closeness. I chose the latter; not because its convenient, but because its worth it.

Recently, I had a friend tell me out of sight meant out of mind for him and he just couldn't do long distance. While this isn't the case for me (I'm constantly thinking of and missing people), I understand how it could be an issue. You aren't seeing the person on a regular basis, so you somewhat forget about them and the need to maintain your relationship. You don't have to let out of sight mean out of mind, though.

Your friend may have a boyfriend or girlfriend, parents, jobs, kids and tend to get distracted by everything around them. This is normal to let your everyday life consume your thoughts, but you can make room to let other things enter your mind too.

Have things around your place to remind you of them, set reminders to check on them and get into a habit of catching up with people while doing chores or going somewhere. There are a few people I try to text on the daily — sometimes it's me reminding them I'm thinking about them, something random I saw that made me smile or telling them good morning.

The smallest things often make the most impact — a text, quick phone call so they can hear your voice, hand-writing a letter (the way to my heart), or a video call while you both study. Tag each other in posts and send each other selfies or other pictures. I don't know about you, but it makes me happy to see a notification from one of "my people," knowing they were thinking of me miles away.

There is nothing that says two friends can't remain close and spend time together, even if it's not physically.

It takes more intention and effort than it does to grab lunch with your roommate, but I've found that I'm often closer to long-distance friends because neither of us takes our time for granted. Connecting and getting together takes more effort than just a regular meet up, but is completely worth it.

Keep the lines of communication and honesty open. When you don't have the chance to see your friends often, it means that when you do see them, you need to make the most of it. Show up and always be fully present. You both deserve your planned bonding time to be special and prioritized.

As we all get more settled in our lives, the amount of time will change and priorities will get swapped around some.

Your time and energy are valuable, but you get to decide where it goes. I try to focus less on doing things I feel obligated to (that I don't have to do), and more on those that I know will fill me and encourage others that I love. It's all a choice we have to choose to make. Will you share the pain, but also some of the biggest joys with another person that you choose no matter the distance between you?

The best things in life take work and long distance ones take extra work, but I'll never regret keeping up with those who are near and dear to my heart. Together we can face anything together, even if that means being vulnerable over video call instead of across the table! Let's do more than just survive long-distance friendships — let's thrive.



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The Making Of A Rumor

What breathes life into a rumor: jealousy, maliciousness, boredom, or a combination of these?

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Within the past three months of this Spring semester of my sophomore year at college, there have been numerous rumors about me circulating around the student body. This piece isn't to address and dismiss the rumors, since, quite frankly, the people who started and passed along these false stories are bored people who aren't worthy of my energy. Rather, I wish to dissect the making and spreading of nasty gossip, which may have a significant impact on those being slandered.

It's human nature to gossip; it's hard to find somebody, especially in a social environment such as college, who has never talked about somebody. However, speaking amongst your close friends (and family members) who are known to be trustworthy is completely different than talking about somebody in a negative, slanderous way to anyone who happens to have ears, especially if you don't know them well.

A girl is at a party with her friends. When she grows tired, she tries to find someone else who wants to leave the party to accompany her on the dangerous trek back to campus since her friends don't want to leave yet. She's seen leaving with one of her guy friends. As the two of them make their way back to their dorms, numerous people spot the two of them walking back to campus together. It's something as simple as this that can spark gossip.

A huge aspect of rumors, and probably the most painful part about them, is their lack of validity. People can't just assume that two people walking back to their dorm together means that they're hooking up. Especially when one of them is in a relationship, it's disgusting for a rumor to be made about them "cheating on her boyfriend". It's alarming that some people feel that they have the right to try staining people's reputations and relationships. The fact that rumors can spread to other countries in such a short period of time is scary, too.

The past few months have made me wonder, what is at the heart of these rumors? It's shocking to see that jealous people feel the need to try and bring down another person to make them feel better about themselves. It's just as sad and, honestly, pretty pathetic that some people are so bored with their lives that they have to rely on fake stories about other people to feel relevant. Furthermore, who does the rumor really revolve around? Of course, the person involved in the story is going to be seen in a negative light. Yet, I believe that rumors actually revolve around the people who listen to them and repeat it, spreading the invalidity and making the rumor grow.

To give a real example, I'll explain the most harmless of the recent rumors about me. I was walking down a hallway as I was speaking to my mother on my phone. I joked with her, "Listen: if they slap me, I sue them". It was such a truly insignificant conversation that I can't even remember who or what I was referring to. Yet, hours later, my friend texted me that a guy who heard me wrote about it in a group chat he has with his boys: "Teylor Veliotis was talking about suing somebody because they slapped her". My friend then heard about this infamous catfight because she knows one of the guys in that group chat.

This is how such stupid, nonsensical rumors start: the telephone game mixed with a lack of privacy. First of all, whether I'm speaking on the phone in the middle of a crowded room or in my dorm room all by myself, it's rude to listen in on a private conversation. What makes matters even worse is to repeat private information to other people. The skewing of private information takes the rumor from bad to worse. The more and more people hear and repeat the story, the more likely it'll turn into something different altogether--it's essentially the elementary school telephone game on steroids.

This is a cautionary tale--not about how an innocent act can be turned into a dirty exploit, but rather about how it degrades the person inventing and spreading the stories. If you create and repeat filthy gossip, this is what you put out into the world. You can do better than that. For some people, malicious slander can snowball and truly devastate someone. I'm blessed that my close friends and people who really matter in my life really know my true character, so I choose not to let gossip tear me down. As we are constantly reminded, life is so precious, so why would you spend your breath and energy on spreading lies and ugliness?

P.S. If you're feeling offended by this article, maybe you're one of those people spreading negativity. Just a thought.

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I Know That If We Can Make It Through Long Distance, We Can Make It Through Anything

Why long distance is the best thing to ever happen to me

Emi
Emi
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I don't.

It isn't.

There are parts of being in a long distance relationship that I never know if I will fully be able to articulate. The moment I said goodbye to my boyfriend when we left for college freshman year, I closed the door behind me as he drove away and just crumpled to the ground and sobbed. This sounds unbelievably dramatic, and I had never been an emotional person until this moment. However, the fear of the unknown was paralyzing. My best friend was about to live five hours away from me, I was going to be in a different time zone, and I didn't know when I was going to see him again. This was my first real experience where I felt like I had just lost someone I loved.

Of course, I didn't really lose him. But that moment, everything did change. I was forced to become independent and had to re-learn how to find happiness being alone. And boy, was I alone. The first few days after he left, I was still at home preparing to move to my school. I could hardly function. I barely ate, and I had never felt so drained of energy. Whenever I would play music and a song that reminded me of him came on, I could not help but cry. My parents physically dragged me to a "going-away" dinner, and I only spoke a few sentences the whole time. Again, this sounds ridiculously theatrical (and if I had not actually lived through it myself, I would agree). My first semester at college, I was the definition of lost. It took me a long time to find myself without my best friend by my side.

But gradually, things got better (and continue to). Now, our goodbyes are still sad but not quite so sloppy. I no longer feel empty without him. I have found my passions at school and with these discoveries have come people that share them. I have an established group of friends, I have a clear professional direction, and I have goals that feel achievable. Re-creating my identity outside of a boyfriend, while unbelievably difficult, has forced me to self-reflect on who I am as an individual and who I want to become.

Because I don't have a boyfriend around to spend weekends with, I spend all my time with my friends. I have time to dedicate to school, an on-campus job, and serving on executive positions for multiple organizations. My schedule is my own, and I can create time to go to the gym six days a week. I am able to get coffee with potential employers and explore the city of Indianapolis without worrying about canceling plans with my boyfriend. I have truly had an independent college experience, and I do not doubt that this has allowed me to become more involved and invested in my friends, my schoolwork, and my extracurriculars than I would have had we gone to the same school.

These are the things I try to remind myself of when we spend Valentine's Day, both our birthdays and almost every single weekend apart. This is what I force myself to think when he is missing from my sorority's formal, date nights, and philanthropy events. When my roommates spend the night with their boyfriends multiple days a week, I smile and say, "Have a good night!" I try not to envy their position too much because I tell myself that long distance has given me so many opportunities.

This is true. But I also miss him, all the time. One thing is for certain, long distance has made me a much stronger individual. I have learned how to find happiness outside of being with him. I have discovered more about myself the past few years alone than I would have had we been at the same school. I have fostered life-long relationships with my friends.

And, at the end of the day, I know that if we can make it through long distance, we can make it through anything.

Emi
Emi

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