Living abroad and starting a new life overseas is an adventure that comes with its challenges. Whether it be on social media or elsewhere, those living abroad tend to publicise the glamorous side of it and emphasise its advantages. What they will not tell you is that it can be the loneliest and most guilt-ridden journey they have ever embarked on, most notably at the beginning.
In this blog, I wish to pinpoint an aspect that I believe hits home for a lot of us—How to deal with losing friends from home due to distance.
Friendship is remarkable and strange in the sense that it is the sole relationship in our adult life that is free of pressure. Nothing nor nobody is forcing you to be anyone’s pal. Unlike many of the relationships we build over the years, you can move in and out of a friendship. This is what makes it so unique and rare.
You can paint it however you want, but moving abroad is fundamentally a selfish choice. It’s great to leave your comfort zone and to grow as a person, but everything has a price. In this situation the price you pay is a hefty one.
So what now?
You accept the situation for what it is
Ask yourself this question: Throughout your childhood up until this present moment, which friends have remained ever-present? Change is a part of us. It always will be. As people grow older, they become more and more caught up in their personal lives. If you are a couple hundred kilometres away from them, this feeling of detachment is amplified. The best way to deal with this is putting yourself in their place and aiming to understand their situation, accepting it for what it is.
You learn some things
It’s perfectly understandable that the burden is placed at the feet of expats to let their old friends know when they are back in town. On the other hand, you may find yourself doing all the work when you have made it crystal clear that you are back home yet you are the only party pushing to arrange a meet-up. You then may begin to ask yourself, how strong is this friendship? Consequently, when your texts are ghosted and plans are cancelled or rescheduled, you begin to see the writing on the wall.
You see your friends more clearly
You must be reading this blog and thinking to yourself, “Wow this guy is a little bit needy and is constantly in need of being in touch with his friends”. Just to clarify, I believe the purest and best friendships are the ones that go untouched for months on end and when you reunite it’s like nothing ever changed. It is in these moments that living abroad separates the weak bonds that you have tried to maintain, whilst simultaneously strengthening those that will withstand the test of time.
If you find yourself losing who you once thought were your friends and close ones, do not worry about it too much. Ultimately, it was not meant to be. We make a lot of friends in the span of our lifetime. Some relationships are deeper than others. Instead of worrying about the relationships that have fizzled out over the years, treasure the ones that have stayed. Distance and time teach us who is in it for the long run.