The hardest part of moving away from home is feeling forgotten.
I thought when I was getting my start in broadcast journalism nearly 2,000 miles away from home three years ago, I was going to keep every friend I had ever made up to that point and they would all be on the sidelines cheering me on as I took the game of TV news head on.
For those that don’t know, this industry can be very lonely.
You move thousands of miles away from home for your first job, usually to a very small town where there are cultural differences you never knew existed. You are on a new path in life with no one around you to hug you when you have a bad day, to talk to face-to-face when you need to vent, to be there when you want to go out and do something with someone… anyone.
When I first moved away from home, I tried calling all of my close friends every day. But that soon grew tired on both me and them. I started getting a grip on my new life, starting making new friends, started dating someone new. They moved on with their lives, one without me in it.
Soon enough, I stopped trying. Phone calls turned to a couple texts every now and then, and most went unanswered. The phone calls I got that were once filled with, “I want to come visit!” turned into cancelled visits that were never actually made in the first place.
Before I knew it, communication stopped altogether.
When I first started my career, this was my biggest fear.
Not keeping in contact with some of the people who I considered so near and dear to my life at one point. The people who made me laugh til I cried, the people who I could call and they would come with me to do whatever we wanted to do to pass the time. The people who, up until that point, I had made all of my memories with.
But there’s a point in a friendship where you start to question how strong your bond really is when you are the one making all the effort.
My lifestyle and career choice don’t exactly make it easy to maintain friendships, but true friends would see past that.
Moving to a new place has a funny way of speeding up the process of severed ties and exposing who’s really going to be there for you through thick and thin.
There are some people who I could have never imagined not being close friends with… and distance proved me wrong.
But with every missed connection and dissolved friendship, came a sense of self concept and clarity.
I’ve never been happier with myself or my current situation than I am now. I’ve discovered dreams I didn’t know I had. I’ve created my own building blocks to be a better person. And I don’t think any of this would have happened without letting go of old friendships and making more time for me, instead of thinking about how I can hold on to friendships that just weren’t meant to last forever.
Time and distance has also proven to me that friendships shouldn’t be measured in years, but quality.
I’ve had friends who were by my side for close to 20 years… that distance pulled away from me.
But the people I now consider my realest friends were made after I moved away from home. And since then, we have all moved to separate parts of the country. Yet, I still keep in touch with them several times a week. These friendships are a two-way street and I don’t ever feel like I’m the only one trying.
They watch my successes and help me in my failures. They cheer me on and fully support every dumb decision I make. They laugh at me so I can learn to laugh at myself, even when they’re far away and can’t see me for months, even years at a time.
For those reading this that have been through a similar situation and are trying to figure out how to master the art of losing friends, here’s my advice:
It’s okay to fire your friends. Having fewer friends can actually make you a better person. There is no such thing as a relocation mistake if it makes you a better person. At the end of the day, your most important friendship is the one you have with yourself.