The other day driving in my car, I popped in an unlabeled CD. Flipping quickly through the tracks, I stopped when I heard the first few bars of track 15. I laughed then slumped back in my seat feeling upset when I realized I’d just started dancing alone to Miley Cyrus’s “7 Things.” It wasn’t the fact that I was dancing to a 5-year-old pop song that made me sad. It was that my college roommate was not there to come in right on cue with her favorite teeny-bop singer.
The CD was from my senior year of college -- the one my roommates and I would play to start off each party. It was from before we had all donned our caps and gowns, moved hundreds of miles away from each other and frustratingly tried to coordinate trips around silly life events such as CFA exams, obligatory family vacations, and unexpected doctors’ bills.
Staying close with friends can be hard, and at times seemingly impossible. But the truth is—between hectic schedules, different time zones, and new adult life responsibilities—it’s a struggle. Sometimes hurried phone calls and wedding advice via Pinterest has to be enough. We all relish connecting with our friends face-to-face—the miles erased when we take a long weekend together, or sit down for a drink after a long day.
But it is possible to feel connected, even when life and distance have gotten in the way. Here are some ways I’ve found that can alleviate the long-distance blues.
Share a blog.
For most people, keeping tabs on your friends consists of checking her blog or Facebook page. While this may keep you informed, it does not keep you connected. One way around this is to consider starting your own blog together. One former roommate and I started a joint lifestyle blog, sharing our favorite outfits, recipes, and DIY projects. In college we bonded over these little projects and our blog allows us to continuing sharing despite the distance.
Pick up the phone.
Whether or not you’re a phone person, the telephone remains one of the best ways to keep in touch. Schedule a phone date, catch each other in transit, or share an "I knew you would would appreciate this" moment with a quick call. Hearing about the little things throughout the day are essential to feeling connected.
Overcome your aversion to mass emails.
Most people associate mass mail, with junk mail. But it can also be a great way to share and stay connected. Did you have a fabulous weekend with photos to prove it? Instead of posting them on Facebook share the photos from the weekend with your friends in an e-mail. It brings an added sense of selective thoughtfulness. What might initially be about a photo or a funny newspaper article can quickly spiral into a catch up session and shared laughs.
Update old traditions.
Too often, we take a wonderful tradition and throw it away because distance has gotten in the way. But its possible to take that favorite tradition and alter it so that it works year after year, no matter where you call home. For example, my college friends and I yearly drew names for our Secret Santa exchange. Now that we’re not on the same campus—or the same state for that matter—we’ve continued the tradition with a twist. Silly notes via faux email accounts and gift lists based on our current needs, help keep the Secret Santa tradition alive—and a part of our friendship.
It may take practice and perseverance—and a little trial and error—to see what works for each friend, but it’s well worth the effort.
(Photo by Nima Salimi )