The Long Distance Friendship Problem

So, I’ve got plenty of friends, IRL friends I mean not just people who have clicked a box on a website or app. If you’ve read any of my previous posts then you will already know that there is a little circle of ‘girlies’ whom I love to keep up to date with over a cuppa and a slice of cake (such a meeting took place on Monday!) and I am lucky enough to have some lovely co-workers who I count as dear friends too. Outside of these central groups I have my bestest friends in the whole wide world- my cousins!

But then there is Clare. Clare and I lived together for a year, one of the hardest years of both of our lives. We were training to be teachers and both found ourselves newly single. We laughed, we cried, we sang and we cooked together for 1 whole year and then she moved back to Ireland.

 I can totally be myself with Clare, I know nothing I say will sound too rediculous to her and my singing is always, always a rival for Beyoncé in her eyes!!! The problem with a ‘Uni’ friend comes in the years after. You move back home, you carry on with your life, grow up (a bit), take on responsibilities at work, get married, buy houses and have less and less time to chit- chat on the phone. Despite this Clare and I have remained friends- we’ve spent a couple of NYE together, been to a festival together, slobbed around watching TV together and even scrubbed up well together to be a bride and bridesmaid but in the last couple of years our friendship has mainly existed on Facebook. Until today…

I’m currently on the train to London to spend a couple of days being a tourist with my Clare. I can’t wait!!!! Even the gloom and downpours scheduled for tomorrow won’t put a dampener on our plans. It’s Wicked tonight and then general sight-seeing tomorrow! I can’t wait!

Like all ‘long distance’ relationships it’s effort that is needed. I’ll be honest, in the last year I’ve not made much effort, between selling my childhood home, moving house myself and general work stresses, I’ve just not had the energy to make the effort but something’s changed. Something has given me a push. The online teaching community.

Last year, around Christmas, things in work took a slump. People whom I thought were friends masks slipped, I didn’t feel comfortable around them anymore and the whole atmosphere in the staffroom changed. I ate lunch in my classroom so not to be around the whispering and hushed conversations, avoided asking for things I really needed so not to be accused of being demanding and generally sunk into myself. Don’t get me wrong, I have some amazing friends in work whom I cherish but they too were feeling the gloom!!! Unable to pull myself out of it, I looked elsewhere for support and somehow bumped into the world of Instagram teachers. Brimming over with positivity, encouragement and inspiration I finally felt the clouds shifting. I was inspired to change things in my classroom, refresh my teaching and change my outlook. I began a teaching blog too (year2tastic.blogspot.co.uk) and I love it!!!

Most of my ‘virtual’ friends are American and the community they have created is a comfortable, friendly, funny and inspiring one! Unlike most UK educational blogs, my US friends have a chatty feel to them. I can come home, read about their days, catch a glimps inside their classrooms, see resources they’ve found useful and feel like their equal. It’s turned things around for me and I know many others too. I’ve found my tribe!

You see, many of these online teachers have also become friends IRL. They host yearly meet-ups, periscope, email and Google Hangout together. And, believe it or not, I’m not only meeting my longtime friend Clare in London but a new friend too. I’m off for lunch with Myranda the blogger behind Keep Calm and Teach 5th Grade. She visits London every year to help at a summer camp so knows the city better than I do! We’ve supported eachother through blog link-ups, give aways and general Instagram pics but today we get to drink cuppas and plan future greatness to come!! We hope to continue our intercontinental support of eachother through some joint online ventures so watch this space!!!

Obviously the same long distance challenges face us too- effort!!! The difference is our friendship is a public one- the pressure is on to make the effort since it’s posted on Instagram and our blogs- we have to deliver!

Thanks to my friends and their endless cups of tea, hugs, texts and blog post over the last school year, I’ve managed to turn things around. 2014-15 was a marked improvement from the gloom and doom of the previous school year and I’m heading into 2015-16 with a positive, can-do attitude and tons of inspiration! How about you?

How do you nurture long distance friendships?

Have you ever needed a friend to lift you out of a slump?

I’m going to try hard to keep my friendships strong and make a big effort to keep in touch…

Let’s see how it goes!

Mrs T Xx

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