I have been fortunate to come across some pretty spectacular friends.
However, in my 27 years of existence, I’ve lived in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Boston and, now, New York City. In each of these cities, I had a core group of friends, and many times, these friends dispersed to other cities just as I did.
The first break came right after high school, when my friends went to different colleges in different cities.
Then, after I left my first college and transferred to my next, I was distanced from yet another group. Post graduation, I moved from Boston to my current home in New York City.
At this very moment, I have good friends in LA, Nashville, Orlando, San Francisco, Houston, London, Cincinnati, Boston, Bermuda, Philadelphia, Dayton and an array of cities across the United States and the world.
Maintaining friendships of any capacity can be difficult, but there is an extra strain when those people are separated by thousands of miles.
Our generation's adoption of social media is a great way to keep in touch with people who are acquaintances (i.e. your cousin's friend you met that one time at that one party) to our very best friends, who we would ask to be in our weddings immediately if we got engaged tomorrow.
But, sometimes, social media isn't a suitable substitute for that real-life connection we, as human beings, crave and need.
It’s easy to get lost in our busy lives and let friendships fall by the wayside.
However, there is great importance and support to be found in these friendships that lay outside of our immediate lives.
So, why should we stop stalking them on Facebook and start picking up the phone, making the FaceTime call or booking the plane ticket to visit them all the way across the world?
1. Long-distance friendships provide an alternate perspective.
People know all-too-well that a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference in conflict, crises, a big decision, a piece of work, etc. These friends are our fresh pairs of eyes for our lives.
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up with the triviality of what’s happening directly in front of us, we fail to see beyond it.
Unlike a therapist, who can provide a distant, third-party opinion, our long-distance friends can give an outsider’s point of view while still providing the comfort of a friend.
2. Long-distance friends keep us connected to the world outside our bubble.
Sometimes, New Yorkers, myself included, think we’re at the center of the universe. When we talk and connect with our friends in other cities, we're reminded of the culture and lifestyles that belong to other countries, regions, states and cities.
There is a lot we can learn from our friends in other places; they keep us culturally enriched and open our minds outside of our immediate friendship bubbles.
3. Long-distance friends remind us of where we came from.
My good friends from high school remind me of why I love the Midwestern attitude and make me look back fondly on adolescence.
My college friends remind me of the importance of growing up, keeping the pursuit of knowledge alive and navigating the path to finding myself.
My post-grad friends remind me of the value of hard work and give me the drive to keep achieving goals. Long-distance friends are somewhat of a foil to the lives we currently live by keeping us in check when we stray too far from our core beliefs.
4. When visiting these friends, we will always have an "insider" travel buddy.
Personally, I hate playing tourist when I visit a new place. I always want to find the locals and go to restaurants, bars, museums and clubs that don’t have that cheesy, tourist glow.
When we visit these friends, we get all the local flavor of a community and get to hang out with a close friend.
Who knew you could find amazing, quirky visual artists in Houston, tasty craft beer in Cincinnati or great beaches in Boston? These friends do, and they know we will do the same for them when they come visit us.
5. We’re reminded of why we became friends in the first place.
Who doesn’t love the feeling of reconnecting with a distant friend? It's such a warm, fuzzy feeling when we realize we can pick up exactly where we left off, as if time stood still.
Whether it’s reminiscing about embarrassing teenage drama, getting drunk at college parties, going through breakups and makeups over pizza and ice cream or landing that dream job that forced your friendship to become long distance, we will never have a shortage of things to talk about.
And, when we’re old, wrinkly and all living in retirement homes in Florida, we’ll have a bond that’s stronger than ever!
Some friendships are worth fighting for, no matter the distance.