My closest friends and I are separated by many miles, and while some are closer than others, we sometimes find it difficult to stay in touch throughout our hectic schedules. As we mature, we begin internalizing the importance of the quality of our friendships vs. the quantity; the meaningfulness of the interactions we create with those we love are what truly make our friendships worth maintaining and growing. There are a few things I personally do to make sure I keep these very special people in my life, in a way that is fun, fulfilling and doesn't strain anyone's busy schedule and other priorities. Whether you're trying to rekindle an old friendship or build a stronger one, try these tips and see what comes of it.
1. Write a letter, even if that person is close enough to visit. I enjoy expressing my creative side, adding stickers and fun colors and even an old picture of us in the letters I write to my friends. People get excited about receiving letters in the mail, especially when it's from people they love (and especially when they're not bills!). Emails and texts can be impersonal, while hand-written letters reflects your effort and more importantly, they are WORTH your thoughts. Send one a month! Your friends will be so ecstatic. By the way, these tips also apply to family members you may not get to see often!
2. Look at their face! Skype, Facetime or Google Hangout with them. It's obviously not as awesome as seeing them in person, but technology is pretty infinite, and you should take advantage of it. It's so nice to Skype my best friend in New York and watch her son as he grows older and plays. I would never be able to see that in person as I do over Facetime only because of the distance. Texts and call are great, but being able to match that voice you love so much to a face is priceless.
3. Plan a trip. This may sound obvious, but how often do you actually have a trip in the works? It doesn't have to be a long one or an expensive one for that matter. It could be a girl's weekend or even a "meet halfway" day trip. Think about how often you see this person now, and try and double it over the coming year. Family, work and social lives can really keep a schedule full but these people are worth it and you know it.
4. Create a visual reminder of your friendship with that person. I personally enjoy keeping a scrapbook, and while you don't have to get super fancy (I get pretty wild with a hot glue gun and stamps), a simple album of your memories together is so comforting to flip through. It can serve as such a beautiful reminder of your history with that person.
5. Call them more than you normally do. If they don't answer, leave them a voicemail. The point is that they know you are thinking of them and that you love them! I always take ridiculous videos of myself singing in the car and send it to my friends as a "thanks for loving me even though I'm insane" love note.
6. Acknowledge the holidays. We're all adults now and it's time to send a birthday card (on time), a Christmas card and whatever else represents what they celebrate and is meaningful to them. A friendship is more than the two of you; it's a reflection of your selflessness for that person and a true acknowledgement of what they love and what is important to them. Add it to your calendar on your phone or into your planner and send something each year. It's such a mature and warm gesture and it's about time we spend our time on each other in this way. Again, this doesn't have to break the bank (making your own cards is always cheaper) and it's really the thought that counts.
7. Start a group text. Are there a few of you in the BFF circle? Make it happen! Some days I wake up and I have 129 texts between everyone in the group and quite honestly, I don't always read them all. It's not really the point though. When I have time, I stop in and read about what's going on, I chime in, and most importantly, I know if I need ears or advice, I can go turn to them. It's such an easy way to stay connected and it doesn't have to occupy your entire life. This is especially the case for my three best girlfriends from college who are currently spread out all over the globe. We chat about work, our parents, and have our fair share of "remember at Stetson when..." It's a healthy dose of nostalgia and definitely keeps us close.
Our friends and family are the most important support systems we have. While not everyone in our lives may be present the way we would like them to be physically, we have the ability to change how close they are emotionally. More effort and a few extra steps let others know we are thinking of them causes a positive chain reaction that's both satisfying and meaningful. If we have time to Instagram our selfies, go to the movies, go to happy hour and play with our pets, we most definitely have the time to let those who love us and who have been there for us know we are thinking of them. To all my family and friends, I am eternally grateful for your love, support and tough criticism. Let your loved ones know the same. After all, love truly does conquer all!