A College Girl’s Perspective to Long Distance Friendship

If you are a young adult female, there is a high chance that you’ve seen the ultimate ode to best friendship, the film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. If you live under a rock and have no idea what this early 2000s chick flick is about, here’s a quick summary: four best girlfriends, Tibby, Bridget, Lena, and Carmen, are all separated during a summer. Each friend is unique with different personalities and interests, yet all experience some type of coming-of-age moment and embark on different exciting, romantic, even sad, journeys. Throughout the summer, the girls share their experiences with each other through a magic pair of jeans that comfortably fits each of their vastly different body types. This film is celebrated by girlfriends nationwide, yet many fans do not get to experience the wonders of long distance friendship. Lucky for me, I have the luxury of being stuck in a similar situation.

In the summer before my junior year of high school, I participated in program designed to foster peace between Catholic and Protestant teens in Northern Ireland. Eighteen teens from Coleraine, a small coastal town sectioned in the northern part of the country, travelled to the first state to spend the month of July creating lasting memories and breaking down the barrier that separates the two religions. The last day of the program, I cried my heart out. It was so difficult to let go of my best friends, knowing that it would be an extremely long time until we were once again reunited. I spent an entire month, almost everyday of the week, laughing, singing, embarrassing myself, traveling, learning, team-building, and more. I genuinely believed departure day would conclude my fantastic journey. Little did I know, my friendships would grow much stronger. Who knew one summer experience in 2013 would lead me to meet my three best girlfriends: Emily, Nyah, and Mollie.

Emily, Nyah, and I all lived in the same area, while Mollie lived in Coleraine. The next year, in 2014, Emily moved across the country to California. In 2015, Mollie and I headed to college; her in Belfast, myself in D.C. In 2016, Emily’s family moved to Switzerland while Emily began attending school in Chicago, while Nyah took a gap year and moved to Germany to nanny. Over the past few years, we have all moved; some of us much farther than others. However, our friendships are stronger than ever. Each of us, similar to the characters in the movie, have had coming-of-age tales and experienced first loves, losing friendships, big moves, new-found independence, extreme sadness, bliss, etc. We’ve grown from awkward fifteen and sixteen-year-olds to young women seeking higher education, traveling the world, and pursuing our dreams.

Although I have glamorized long distance friendship, it is truly difficult to maintain. It is so hard to go months, even years, without being able to cry on your best friend’s shoulder or to give them a hug when you are ecstatic about something. I miss the days where I was a ten minute drive away from their home rather than a ten hour flight. 

In college, you’re broke and busy. You’re eager to meet new people and spend time with new friends. When you aren’t spending time with new friends, you’re busy working hard. Things you used to love to do with your girlfriends become boring, and you find yourself enjoying new things with new people more. You find yourself not having enough time to video chat, call, text, or write letters. You lose touch, and those memories seem to become more and more distant.

Suddenly, a text or quick call revitalizes your lifelong friendship. You talk and pick up right where you left off. You find yourself texting or on the phone for hours, laughing about all your old stories. You share your new life with them, and they’re so excited about it! They want to meet your friends and you want to meet theirs. You find yourself making plans to visit each other. And nothing, I mean nothing, is quite like that magical moment that is reuniting with your best friend, where everything seems just right. All those fears and sad thoughts vanish, while those old memories and jokes come flooding back. 

The film closes with the quote, “But we know now that no matter how far we traveled on our own separate paths… Somehow we would always find out way back to each other. And with that, we could get through anything. To us. Who we were, and who we are. And who we'll be… Together and apart.” Having long distance friends makes you cherish time and memories with them even more, and without my BFFs, I’d be as cynical as Tibby when her friends moved away for the summer.