Most of the time life seems like one giant balancing act. Between all of the responsibilities and expectations placed on us by ourselves and others, it’s hard to know if and when a balance is even being achieved. As someone who recently relocated cities, the hardest balance to find in life right now is one between old and new friendships. Keeping in touch with friends now scattered across the country while forming new relationships is tough. Living in the past is no good, but looking so far forward that you forget about your old friends isn’t any better. Melding the two into a functional mixture of familiar support and energizing new personalities is the ultimate goal, but getting to that place is the hard part.
It is second nature to me to reach out to friends, and I understand it is easier for some than others. I enjoy letting my friends know I’m thinking about them. Whether it’s their first day on a new job or a random time, hearing from people you love makes you feel supported: no matter what. I strongly believe kind words from a friend will never be poorly received. And I do recognize that while I might enjoy penciling in time to catch up with a friend, others may view it as a burden, or it might not even cross their minds. Reaching out to friends who are close or far away is work, but to me, making the conscious decision to continue to be a part of their lives is easy. Because after all, balancing anything is a choice.
As someone who detests spending too much time on cell phones, keeping in touch via text message can be annoying, but I have to admit that technology makes it easier to keep up with friends’ lives. The tricky part is differentiating between information everyone has access to, such as knowing where they ate brunch this weekend, or actually receiving information directly from the source. The conclusion I have come to is that social media is a good conversation starter and a way to keep up with the daily activities of those you care about. Being able to reference or ask questions about a photo they have posted is a way to combine the lines of communication.
So what happens when friends choose not to balance old and new, leaving you with a lack of support? Living alone in a new city, it is easy to feel neglected or replaced, but that also means I appreciate those people who continually reach out even more. If a friend rarely reaches out, it gives me less incentive to stay in contact, which is sad, but means in this case, my time could be better spent on forming a new relationship. Balancing is all about figuring out who and what is important to you, focusing on the positive and cutting out the negative. Something I am still navigating.
The bottom line is that nobody wants to feel replaced, but that’s life. And hopefully distance creates even stronger bonds with friends who are meant to stay in your life, and those who make little effort will fall out. Relying solely on friends in different cities for emotional support is unrealistic, which is why forming new friends who can provide in-person support is important too. Striking the balance between the two can be done and I imagine it is incredibly fulfilling. I’m looking forward to the day when this adjustment period falls away and is replaced by a familiar cast of both old and new friends who I know I can count on.
Alyssa Clough is a recent graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is now living in New York City. She loves dressing in monochrome, sending notes to friends and eating any peanut butter product.
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