Aegean To Appleton: The Family You Choose

By Savvas Sfairopoulos

To me, friendship is one of the noblest and most quintessential aspects of human life. Someone once told me that, “our friends are the family we choose.” I made that statement my religion and became very selective when it came to making friends. That is not to say, of course, that I distanced myself from everyone who did not live up to my standards, nor did I become antisocial.

Being this selective turned out to be extremely rewarding, for I managed to find people whom I am proud to call my family — not just my friends. Admittedly, however, I was afraid that my transition to the U.S. would distance me from these individuals to the point where I would lose all contact with them. I took it upon myself to make sure that did not happen.

Friendship is, by Platonic definition, a purely spiritual relationship based on commitment and mutual admiration between two or more individuals. Just like most relationships, however, friendship may go through various hardships when a vast distance separates the stakeholders. It is likely that something extremely important will happen to your friend while you are away, and by missing out on it, it may become increasingly difficult for you to empathize deeply with them. Because of this kind of disconnect, there might be times when you both become parodies of your past selves, merely skimming on the surface with snippets of old conversations.

If this ever happens, you need to find the courage to break through the awkwardness of emotional distance, and you need to speak up. This is an extreme situation that comes along when both of you allow too much time to pass by, forgetting to keep in touch with each other.

I have watched some of my friendships fade out of the corner of my eye because of this. Failing to live up to the expectations your friends have of you may result in them feeling neglected or even unwanted. In order to prevent this from happening, you have to try to relieve the shared tension of too much time gone by. A two-sentence text may seem insignificant at first, but it can mean the world to your friend, especially if they are going through hard times.

Skype and Facebook are my two favorite mediums of communication with my friends from Greece; the first because it allows for face-to-face interaction, the latter because I can use it to share with them the numerous ideas, texts and videos that I come across. These two, and many other media alike, will help alleviate this difficult situation and make future meetings seem much less overwhelming and awkward.

Although more time-intensive, another great idea is to have a common blog with your friends. It can be something that only you and your friends know about, and that may help it function as a place for you and your friends to unwind by writing about your lives’ events and sharing them with each other.

It may be awkward to say this, but friendship is a kind of love. It may not be as binding in the day-to-day as romantic love, but it has the same responsibilities. A true friendship is a lasting bond that, although requires care, will provide love and support regardless of time and place. Just remember that, because friendship is such a sacred relationship, it requires mutual contributions. So, keep your friends close, and if they are an ocean away, keep them closer!