Bad Friend Abroad

I woke up one morning with a message from a friend. She wrote to me in the middle of the night and said she missed me. She needed to talk. I rolled onto my side in bed and set my phone down instead of replying.

I know I should have messaged her back, but it was 8 a.m. in London and 3 a.m. for her at home. I excused my absent-mind friendliness to the five hours and the ocean between us.

My best friend isn’t the only friend I’ve neglected while studying in London. It’s easy to be a bad friend abroad. I’ve made new friends from my university here while ignoring the old ones back on campus. I check-in on classmates from other American colleges in my program more often than I do on for my friends at home.

I have a fear of missing out (FOMO) for friends at home, and I flight this fear by ignoring them altogether. I know that is counterintuitive.

I have good friends that are graduating while I am abroad. I have study buddies haunting our regular coffee shops without me. They won’t be on campus when I return for the fall semester, and if I ask them about their finals or their fun now I know it’ll hurt me.

The truth is that I miss them so much I don’t know how to talk to them about it. I am scared to hear if they’re having a good time not because I am envious of their experiences while I am gone. I am scared to hear they’re having a good time without me because I’m worried about the “without me” part.

Am I going to be able to just rejoin my friend group in the fall semester as if I never left for eight months? We’re all getting a taste of life apart, and I irrationally worry that my friends will favor my absence.

I had two toxic friendships shatter my confidence in my ability to be a good friend and develop healthy friendships. I have done three years of dark self-work, and I try to choose healing every day. I still struggle with my trust in friendships, and my time abroad has loosened some of the progress I’ve made.

I want to be a more responsible and proactive friend. I want to have faith in my friendships and my ability to be a strong friend again. I just need my friends to know that I am still adjusting to being abroad and the bruises from failed friendships.

I still won’t excuse my recent behavior to my friends at home. I want to call more often. I want to move our daily conversations off of our Snapchat streak to a more tangible communication medium. I want to FaceTime once or twice instead of liking your Instagram posts.

I want my friends to feel my love across the Atlantic and know that eight months apart won’t burn any (London) bridges for me.

Okay, I am sorry for that joke. You can unfriend me for that!

One thought on “Bad Friend Abroad

  1. Cameron, your friends are invaluable. They are precious and shouldn’t be neglected. Connect with them before you loosen the bond. I did and it took 35 years to reconnect.

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