Friends, Where Art Thou? Thoughts on Maintaining Relationships After College
t's 4 pm in September. You just stepped out of your last class for the day and the afternoon sunlight is dancing along the sidewalk. The campus is alive. Alive with the commotion of hurried feet and happy chatter. The bell tower rings out across buildings. You don’t know much about, well, anything. But you do know this, you have roughly one hour to curl your hair and throw on your best pair of jeans.
Happy hour starts at 5 pm at the local bar, and you’ll be damned if you’re late.
Communal closets, spontaneous visits to your friend’s bedroom down the hall, nights spent commiserating about assignments and exams. It’s hard not to look back and think, wow, those were the days. When your best friends lived quite literally a step away. When your bad days were heard and your spirits lifted with random dance parties in your college kitchen, bare feet scuttling across possibly the dirtiest tile floors you’ll ever touch in your life… and if that didn't do the trick, a stiff Long Island from the townie bar surely got you somewhere.
And maybe I’ve pushed you a little too far into nostalgic and reminiscent territory, so let’s reel it back in. Those memories will always be yours to keep. Etched in stone, nothing can take those moments away from you.
Yet, there is so much life still to live. You haven’t hit the peak yet, you’re still climbing. And you haven’t lost your friends, you just haven’t seen them in a while. It might feel like everyone has scattered into the wind, flung across the country or even the globe. But we are all still so much closer than you think.
It might feel like everyone has scattered into the wind, flung across the country or even the globe. But we are all still so much closer than you think.
This year, it's been difficult to reconcile with the “should have been time” we had left at college. And no one ever talks enough about how lonely it is when you move away from your friends and jump into the 9-5 culture of forced professionalism.
In the spirit of this month’s theme, connection, I wanted to talk about maintaining relationships after college. It’s all just a little more difficult when you don’t live within a 20-foot radius of your closest friends. I am not someone who naturally does well with reaching out. This is something I talked about in my last post, A Tall Order of Emotional Vulnerability with a Side of Introversion.
Maintaining friendships takes thought and intentional work after graduation. It takes this made me think of you's and it’s been so long, let's get something on the calendar's. Girl’s nights may not be across the street at your classic dive bar, but with the help of a little disposable “adult” income, maybe GNO’s turn into flights to a tropical getaway. And come on, that’s a heck of a lot cooler right?
COVID-19 adds a twist to all of this catch-up, but here are some things I have found helpful for staying in touch with your friends and maintaining relationships after college:
1. Learn to reach out first.
Get in the habit of reaching out often. Make the first move and don’t feel weird about it!
2. Send a text.
It’s so simple, I often forget to take advantage of the ease of digital communication. Check in with a quick text and you’ll open up an entire line of communication and connection with your friend you haven't seen in a few weeks or months.
3. Schedule a FaceTime date.
An effective and COVID-19 friendly way to check in with a friend you haven’t heard from in a while.
4. Put it on the calendar.
Life is busy, setting a specific date ensures get-togethers actually happen.
5. Invite a friend to something you were going to do anyway.
It’s always more fun to have company. Text a friend to work out with you, run errands with you, or have a craft day.
It’s easy to feel isolated after college. New friendships aren’t as easy to come by. Your best friends don’t live down the hall and if you're a little introverted like me, there is no one there to drag you out of your bedroom when you’re feeling resistant. Staying connected is a little less streamlined in these times, but it doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your close college relationships. Take advantage of your cell phone and communicate with your friends and family often.
There are some good days behind us, but even better ones around the corner. I hope you felt a little more connected this month. To your loved ones, to your space, to yourself.
I talked about setting intentions for a connected month in my February email newsletter. I loved getting to share my first go-around at journaling prompts, mood boards, and playlists to set the tone for a focused month. If you are looking for a better sense of direction coming into this next month, sign up for my monthly newsletter by entering your name and email address in the form below.
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Until next post,