Best Friends Forever? Here’s Hoping!

Navigating the world as an adult is hard. Partly because we neglect the people we once swore would be our friends forever. Now that it’s #MentalHealthAwareness Month, I want to remind us why friendships are so important, and offer some ways to make all that hard work worthwhile.

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Picture this: one day you’re chilling in the playground, making friends left right and centre, and the next day you’ve got bills to pay, food to cook and you’re swimming in student debt. It’s a reality that many of us live, and as our adult lives get busier, we tend to neglect our friends; the very people we promised we would be with forever as youngsters. How could we have forgotten the sacred creed: Best Friends Forever?

The dynamic of a friendship changes over time; when we’re young, our friends are the only people we can truly trust, telling each other secrets that don’t really matter, and only playing with each other in the playground. As we grow up, we understand more of the nuances in life, with our friends providing vital support – a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with, someone to talk to. Friendship stops being black and white, with best friends and not friends, and instead becomes something more, providing nurture that our parents cannot.

And of course we gravitate, first to the people who look like us, and then towards the people who think like us. As a child, I remember a brown girl I was friends with. She was Indian, and ticked all the right boxes, but try as I might we just didn’t click. So I gave up and made a new not-brown best friend instead. In secondary school, the story was similar: test the waters with the brown girls, only to realise that they held few of the values that I did.

I didn’t make that mistake in university, and focused on finding people who shared my values and ambitions, people who would lift me up and who would support me. And I found them. And in a small city, living together, they were my best friends. But, just as you drift away from your nursery school friends when they’re no longer in the same class, how do you stop yourself drifting apart from people who live all over the country? Maybe even in different countries?

I try to make time to see each group of friends at least twice a year (it doesn’t sound like much, but when everyone is trying to set aside time from work, partners and family, once every 6 months is pretty average). So how to keep in contact with all these people who have shaped your life?

  1. Whatsapp Groups – they’re a useful way to get a whole group of school friends to stay in touch and also keep regular contact
  2. Doodle Polls – if you’re trying to plan an evening out, a doodle poll is great to determine who is free and which date suits most people
  3. Annual Trips – setting a date for a “reunion” every year is an almost guaranteed way to get the whole gang back together. For an evening or maybe even a week away, it’s a great way to make sure that everyone reconnects

Your friends, at any stage of life, will help you grow, giving you new ways to look at life and providing support and guidance when you need it. As adults, it’s important to keep space for all your friends, even as you change and grow with, for example, your work colleagues, you should not cast your university or college friends aside. Though you may not socialise with everyone all at once, it’s important to keep those friendships intact.

These are just a few ways to make sure that you keep connected, through all stages of your life, especially once you all move away from each other. After all, these are your friends, people who have supported you through some of the hardest stages of your life so far, and vice versa. Are you really going to let all of those memories stay in the past, and stop making more?

Pick up your phone, drop that friend a text. Let them know you’re thinking of them and that you still care.

How do you keep in touch with the friends that no longer live close by?

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