Kayla Lewkowicz

4 Tips to Navigate Your Post-Grad Friendships

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It’s graduation season, a time full of gowns, caps, and inspirational speeches.  Though you’re no doubt excited to start a brand-new life (perhaps in a brand-new city!) you’re also probably nervous—your friends might not be coming along.

In college, your best friends are only a few dorm rooms away.  More than likely, by senior year, they’re in the same apartment or house with you.  So what will it be like to leave all that behind and strike out on your own?

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As you take your first steps into adulthood, it’s okay to be worried about keeping your friendships alive.  Though it’s not as easy, keeping your true friends close is more important than ever.

Your Friendships Will Change, And That’s Okay

Graduation isn’t just a new start for you.  It’s a new start for your friends, too.  Whether you’re scattering to the winds or moving into an apartment together, you’re growing and changing, and so will your friendships.  When I graduated, I said goodbye to my tight-knit circle, some who now live thousands of miles away.  The reality is, my friendships are different.

‘It's not a ‘bad’ thing that friendships change after graduation,’ says Nicole Zangara, LCSW and Author of Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. ‘You won't have the same accessibility you once did and so your friendships may ebb and flow until they reach a new balance.’

This isn’t to say that your ties will be weaker; in fact, it’s more likely you’ll bond over your shared trials and tribulations of attempting to ‘adult.’ Amy Medeiros, a recent grad and marketing manager, says, ‘I think [my relationships have] gotten stronger and more mature.  We have been able to give each other really valuable advice about careers, finances and what to expect from corporate life.’

You’ll still trade ‘can you believe it’ moments—except now, instead of  talking about homecoming, you’ll talk about your latest conference or work snafu.  For my long distance friends, we keep regular status updates and tabs on each other and our careers.  As you grow and hit new milestones in your life (and your BFFs’ lives), you’ll find new things to dish about, and that’s totally normal.

It’s Okay To Lose Friends

As it takes more effort to keep in touch or see your friends, you’ll find that you lose some along the way.  Kali Platt, a recent grad based in Denver, says, ‘I think it is necessary to cleanse people out of your life, just as you would getting rid of clothes that do not fit you or that you do not wear, without hostility or conflict.’  You’re not angry or unhappy, but it’s part of the flow of life.

Some friends aren’t as communicative, but that doesn’t mean you’ve ‘lost’ them.  A good test: if you wouldn’t wish them a happy birthday on a medium outside of their Facebook wall (like a call, text, snap, or collage-worthy Instagram), then you’re probably not going to put in the effort to talk to them on a regular basis.

Do I wish that I could stay in touch with everyone?  Of course.  But it’s not realistic, and I’ve come to realize that though it was fun to hang out every once in a while on campus, some of the people I called friends weren’t really friends.  Those that I do stay in touch with, I know I’ll always miss.

As painful as it might seem, in the end, if you’re not willing to make the effort to see them in person every once in a while (or at least message them to see how they’re doing), chances are that your friendship was one of convenience and location.  While it’s disappointing, it’s also perfectly healthy and part of growing up.

Effort Is Key To Success

‘You and your friends will have to put in more effort (calling, texting, emailing, planning meet-ups) when that wasn't an issue before,’ says Zangara.

Set clear expectations on communication.  Maybe you set up a weekly Skype call or Facetime together. Zangara recommends‘having this conversation with your closest friends; if it’s talked about, no one is left feeling hurt or disappointed.’  Will you try to meet up in the middle every few months?  Call once a week?  Talk every day?  It’s worth discussing what you’re willing to do to keep the friendship going strong.  Like any relationship, it takes effort.

My friends and I keep a running group Facebook message going and schedule regular reunion weekends. Though not everyone can attend all of them, making sure that we see each other every few months is really important, just to talk. And when we do have an opportunity to visit — say, passing through for work — we drop everything to make time for one another.

The good news?  It’s never been easier to keep in touch and stay supportive of one another.  Platt explains, ‘After graduation, my tight-knit group of friends scattered across the country and even abroad.  Geographically, our dynamics have changed.  What has not changed is the constant support, checking in and rooting one another on.’

It’s never been easier to keep in touch and stay supportive of one another. 

Don’t Worry, You’ll Make New Friends!

Guess what?  Every other graduate is in the same boat that you are.  Remember how nerve-wracking it was on the first day of college?  Now put yourself in the real world.  You’ll meet new people and make new friends.  In my first job, I joined a development program that dropped me into a group of 20 amazing fellow post-grads—all going through the same thing!  As much as I miss my old friends, it’s been great to meet completely new people who I can adventure with.

‘Leaving college, you are entering an entirely new world and have the capability of starting fresh.  What better time to surround yourself with the best possible people and environments?’ asksPlatt.  ‘I rely on friendships to bring new experiences into my life.’

Zangara agrees.  ‘Make sure you balance your time, and be open to new friendships.  You'll be better off being open and allowing more people into your life.’

 

Kayla Lewkowicz hails from the small town of Hopkinton, MA, home of the Boston Marathon. A digital marketer by day and freelance writer by night, she's a passionate storyteller, reader, hiker, swimmer, runner, and eater. When she's not furiously typing on her laptop, she's probably at the gym or on top of a mountain dreaming of her next giant bowl of pasta. 

 

 

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