There's a resolution that I forgot to put in my new years post. It's not a small one so I'm not entirely sure how it slipped my mind. The short of it: When something makes me think about a friend I've not seen or spoken to in a while, I want to message that friend. Don't just do nothing. For the long of it, read on.
Last April I got the train back from Manchester to Sheffield to go to my friend Sam's birthday. It's one of the things I love about living here: I'm only ever an hour from home, which makes seeing family and friends so much easier than if I had chosen Edinburgh as my insurance.1 As a good example, recently my Grandma had a period of bad health and I was able to come home pretty much weekly with no reason other than to visit her.
But I digress. I'd got off the train and found myself with a couple of hours to spare. There's no shortage of free things to do in Sheffield so I figured I'd wander around for a bit and see what took my fancy. Almost immediately though I bumped into Anita, a long time friend2 who I'd not properly hung out with since we left for University nearly 4 years prior. We both had some time to spare so we went to a coffee shop3 for a catchup.
There we talked about a lot of the goings on in our lives, things that we'd not talked about in years. A big topic was how what had happened to us was common with other friends too. Once at uni we'd stopped talking to friends from home as much, if not completely, even though we still considered them friends and part of our respective lives. Part of this is down to built up contact anxiety (I've not messaged them in years, will it be weird if I message them now?) but we had another thought.
As old and fuddy duddy as it sounds, we attributed this mainly to social media. Hear us out. While these tools have allowed for easier communication between friends it's also made it even easier to be a passive friend. You'll see updates on their life on Facebook or their opinions on the latest political drama on Twitter and feel like you're in touch with them. This is regardless of whether that interaction actually two-way or only one.
We both came away from that meet saying that we'd do more to keep in touch with friends that we hadn't over the last few years. I don't know about Anita, but for me this was largely forgotten and not done for most of 2017. Moments would come and go and friends would go on uncontacted. Everything stayed the same.
This year I want to make a change. When one of my friends is having a bad day I want to actually reach out rather than just giving them a sympathy 😢 react. If a friend has a view I disagree with I want to tell them why I disagree with them and engage in that debate. If I see or do something which reminds me of a friend I want to message them and tell them about it.
I've already started this a little bit, but as they year goes on there'll only be room for more. 2018 will not be another year like the last five. This year I'm resolving to change this habit and hopefully strengthen my long term friendships as a result.
Despite loving it now, Manchester was actually my 7th choice of University once you count international and pre-application choices. I'll talk about my University application story at some point because I know mine is atypical. ↩
It's been 7 years now. SEVEN YEARS. ↩