While I wouldn’t trade my life of traveling the world and living abroad for anything, there are definite downsides to this kind of lifestyle I’m lucky enough to call mine. One of them is the fear of missing out, and worst of all, the fear of not being missed at all. A huge reason why many people don’t venture off into the unknown is because of the wonderful relationships we’ve already built at home. And why would you want to leave that? Your friends, your family, your colleagues, your dog – they all make up the beautiful life you’ve built over the years.
Trust me, it’s a constant battle in my brain between wanting to stay or wanting to explore. I’ve been in Australia for almost a year now, and the thought of leaving after making great friends and professional connections is daunting (and a little sad!) At the end of the day, exploration always wins.
Although stepping out of your comfort zone and inevitably leaving a few people behind may seem unfathomable, I promise you that it is the best thing you can do for your friendships. As we grow up, we build relationships through years of schooling. Some of us, if we’re really lucky, we have friendships formed over our entire lives, and still call them friends to this day.
Unfortunately, for the most part, a lot of our friendships are conditional. You know those friends that are always around because they know you’ll go out with them, or they know you’ll help them out when they need it, or you just both happen to be in the same vicinity. Sure, they may be great people and even great friends, but there’s nothing like moving 10,000 miles away that tests the strength of your friendships.
When you venture off for the first time, you think all will be the same when you’re away. You’ll be in the know of all that’s happening back home. Friends will consult you on their love lives. You’ll hear all of the goss from the party last Friday. You think things will stay the same, and you’ll talk with your best friends every day. You believe your friends will actually reach out to you and ask you how everything is.
In my case, I found this to be quite the opposite. I noticed I was always the one to reach out and try to keep in touch. I felt desperate trying to hold on to the connections I had at home. I wasn’t being present while I was in some of the most gorgeous destinations around the world. I felt as soon as I left everyone forgot who I was and who we’d been as friends.
Now after two years of travel and a year of living abroad in Australia, I now know what to expect. And that is your true friends will reach out – every now and then. Your “friends” will answer your Facebook messages intermittently. Everyone else probably just doesn’t care. And that’s okay, that’s plenty alright – because travel gives me something that the people that don’t care never will. Travel gives me the confidence in who I am as a person and who I want to be as a friend. Having to start all over in a new country making new friends reinforces the type of people I want to surround myself with, and the type of friend I want to be to these people.
Travel has made me a better person with amazing friends around the world. It’s brought me stress-free friendships and overwhelming encouragement to go after my dreams of traveling and blogging. Sure, I may be able to count on two hands the amount of friends I can message to go have a drink with or go to the beach with, but I’d prefer their company any day over the people who couldn’t give me the time of day to see how I was doing while away.
Travel teaches you which of your friends will be there for you when you come back home and who will be there for the rest of your life. I’m extremely lucky with the close friendships I still have back at home. It’s been a painful process of realising who wouldn’t one of those friends. It hurt in ways that they will honestly never know about, but I’m so happy and confident now because of it.
Travel showed me who I can count on whatever time of the day. With time differences being another downside of travel, I’ve found who would take my calls or messages no matter what time it was in their time zone and no matter how much they didn’t understand the situation unfolding 10,000 miles away. They were there for me no matter what, and I’m grateful for them.
Travel has taught me that it’s okay to be picky with your friendships and who you trust. It’s also taught me that even the most unlikely of characters can turn into the closest friend. But the main thing travel has taught me is that life is too short to spend a single second worrying about the state of a friendship. If it’s strong enough, you shouldn’t have to worry. If you and your friends mutually care enough, it shouldn’t be a difficult task. And if you keep your heart open to new friendships, better ones will come along – even if that means in a foreign country!
Travel is the best thing that can happen to your friendships. It will weed out the ones that at the end of the day were nothing more than convenience of being near each other, and it will strengthen the ones that you will undoubtedly keep for the rest of your life. I owe the strength and happiness of my closest friendships to travel because they were the ones who showed me they cared.
To all of my friends that are making a massive effort to see me when I come home for three weeks in March: I’m so grateful and humbled to call you my friend. To the friendships I’ve held onto since birth: I’m truly the luckiest girl in the world to have friends like you. To the friends who I’ve met in Australia and through my blog: You’ve made such an impact on my stay here in Oz, and you’ve reignited my confidence in my ability to make new friends.
If leaving your friends at home is preventing you from traveling the world, studying abroad or living overseas, just remember that your true friends will be there for you when you get back home, and you’ve got a world full of people to build new friendships with 🙂