Nothing tests friendships quite like graduating.
No longer are your besties right next dorm.
Staying up until 3am is no longer viable since half of you have 8-5 jobs.
The crew is scattered around the nation and sometimes even the world.
Priorities are made but sometimes “the crew” isn’t in the top five.
Intentionality is a term that is thrown around religiously in conversations about friendships and relationships.
“I’m trying to be more intentional about going to office hours so that I can get the most out of this class.
“Just pray that I’d be more intentional about spending time with my family and being a better brother and son”
“Dude, I think you need to be more intentional about the time you spend with her”
LOL. I’m sorry. What exactly does that word even entail?
The word intentionality generally refers to a deliberate effort to carry something out.
While friendships based in convenience thrive in a three mile radius of a university, they tend to sputter out and fail in the post grad life.
What happens when we can’t imitate the professor we have on a daily basis? What happens when we no longer walk the same road to our 8am class? What happens when we don’t work at Chick-fil-A anymore? What happens when we don’t live in the same apartment anymore?
I find that the best way to communicate this message is to share about the trials of a long distance relationship. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of being in a long distance relationship, I’ll give you a quick synopsis:
Basically imagine your best friend. Now imagine that you guys have a blast whenever you guys are together. You are in sync when it comes to humor, you like similar movies, you love the same kinds of food, and basically every time you guys hang out you make memories and have a blast. If you ever need to have a serious conversation or you need a listening ear, they are only a five minute drive away. You know what their posturing and body language means when they are talking. You instinctively know that something is wrong just from a first glance. Basically when you are done hanging out, you can’t wait to hang out again.
Imagine that this person can only hang out with you about 4-5 times a year. You start developing different senses of humor based upon the different cultures you live in. You still make memories and have a blast, but it’s just a lot more rare. If you need to have a serious conversation you might have to subject yourself to an audio/video out of sync FaceTime call or if you’re lucky a phone call that only drops your calls once every call. You can’t actually pick up on posturing or body language because they are hours ahead of you and the wifi is spotty. You really can’t wait to hang out again.
Keeping friendships alive after graduating is a lot like sustaining a long distance relationship. Both parties have to make time in order for the relationship to thrive.
Is it always worth it? Probably not.
Is it not always being worth it a good enough reason to let friendships die? I don’t think so.
Yes, the boundaries of friendship change with distance and time apart, but that doesn’t mean that we should try less.
I recently had an old family friend come over to my house for Thanksgiving. We used to play in the same church basketball league every year. We would build Star Wars Lego sets together and we would play Super Smash Brothers Melee for hours.
When I moved to San Diego, our friendship went from a meeting every week thing, to a meeting once a year thing. We both may have wished more for our friendship but we apathetically resigned ourselves to the once a year friendship we had.
This past Thanksgiving, we reminisced of years gone by when we were able to hang out more in one year than we had in the last eight years.
Unlike other years, we decided to do something about it. We always said we didn’t have enough time in that 24 hour period of Thanksgiving so we decided to make more time.
1 week later, I made the 2 hour drive to his place and we talked, played games, and we hit the archery range where he teaches the next morning.
The sad truth is that there are not enough hours in the day to keep up with everyone who we knew in college after we graduate. Yet sometimes we allow the truth that we can’t keep up with everyone to affect how we treat all of our long distance friends.
Yes, you will have to choose a few to invest in rather than being able to keep in touch with all of them, but don’t let the excuse of distance or a lack of time prevent you from investing in friendships that have the potential to last a life time.