In the weeks leading up to college graduation, I was ready to take on the world with my girls. I knew we wouldn’t spend as much time together now that we weren’t down the hall from each other, but that we would continue to be in each other’s lives during this time of transition.
What I didn’t account for is just how exhausting post-grad life became. After work, I hardly wanted to lift a finger to text, let alone pick up the phone. I didn’t account for how different our work schedules would be, or how much the three-hour trip to visit would take from my dwindling energy reserves.
It was easy to let my friendships fall to the back burner and slip into a bout of depression- I felt less motivated and less confident than ever! It turns out that maintaining close friendships is important to reducing stress and cutting the risk of depression. I decided to reach out to old friends and make more of an effort to rekindle old friendships, helping me deal with my stress in a healthy way.
Staying in touch with people after you graduate can start to feel impossible once you settle down into the busy routine of post-grad life, but there are ways to stay close with your friends- even if you’re living far apart.
1. Don’t Forget to Text
Remembering to shoot your friend a text to see how she’s doing, even just once a week, can make a big difference. Knowing what’s going on in each other’s lives allows you to reach out and offer support when it’s needed, and makes it easier to provide each other encouragement in reaching your goals. Even when you don’t have much to say, sending a funny meme or a sweet Facebook memory shows your friend that you’re thinking of her and you care about being a part of her life.
2. Show Your Support
Sometimes a text just doesn’t cut it. Make sure you keep up with important dates, such as birthdays or the day of a big recital, and take the extra time to call or send flowers, or even a special shout-out post on Instagram. If you’re lucky enough to live close by, take the time to show your support IRL. It feels good when people show up and show us support, and we want to do the same for our friends.
3. Plan a Getaway Together
Nowadays, it’s way too easy to overwork ourselves to the point of burnout, and society isn’t exactly encouraging us to take the time to relax. The truth is, taking the time to de-stress is just as important as making that looming deadline or getting that big raise. Why not plan a trip to do just that, and bring your girls along with you? Away from your normal responsibilities, you’ll be able to give your full attention to your friends and the quest to enjoy yourselves for once! Maybe you want to rent an Airbnb up in the mountains and split the cost, or maybe you are more of the type to unwind by attending music festivals or exploring cities. Regardless of what you decide to do, making new memories together will be sure to bring you closer, just don’t forget to plan for it!
4. Surprise Her
Who doesn’t love surprises- especially one that shows your best friend was thinking of you? The gifts don’t have to be big or expensive. Maybe you know your best friend loves getting flowers at work. Maybe you find a silly card, or a fun wine glass you know she’ll love. Send it her way! It’ll show her you’re thinking of her, and it feels really nice to give!
5. Start a New Tradition
This is the perfect time to create new traditions with your friends! Maybe you want to get together once a month and go hiking, or maybe you just want to meet up for wine and catch up. My bestie and I decided to make wreaths together every December, and go shopping together over the summers. If you can’t make in-person traditions work, there are other options like binge-watching something on Netflix together one night a week (you can FaceTime or text to discuss what’s going on!)
6. Don’t Forget to Be Real
On that note, don’t forget to let your friend know when you’ve got something new going on in your life- whether it be good or bad news. It can be tempting to pull away and not share if our news is hard to talk about, or just feels like a bummer- especially if our friends seem to have so many good things going for them. But being honest about our feelings, being vulnerable and sharing our struggles, that is what makes friendships so special, and it is what strengthens our bond to bring us closer together. You may find that once you’re willing to open up, your friend sees it as an invitation to be vulnerable as well.
7. Cut Yourself- and Your Friends- Some Slack
You will be an imperfect friend who disappears into her busy life sometimes, and that’s okay. Forgive yourself! We all go through periods where we have to devote any energy we have to our career, our relationships, and taking care of ourselves- it’s a part of adult life. Just make sure you don’t let a hectic week turn into a chaotic month, and keep in mind that the times you’re feeling most worn down are probably the times you could most use a friend. Don’t forget to reach out! It may sound exhausting, but you’ll almost definitely feel better afterward!