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I’m worried I won’t see my friends once we all finish school

Finishing school forever is a mixed bag of emotions - excitement (but also perhaps nervousness) about what’s next and a feeling of freedom. But you also may be wondering when you will see your friends next. At school you knew you would see them almost every day, but now what?

It’s totally understandable to be worried about this and everyone feels the same way.

However, by being prepared for the eventuality that you won’t be catching up as frequently as you did at school, you can ease your transition into the next stage of life with a plan in place.

How can I keep in touch with friends who have moved away for work, study or?

Maintaining connections with school friends is really important, because you will all be going through the similar experiences - discovering that the world is quite different once you aren’t confined by the rules and restrictions of the school bell.

These days, it’s very easy to stay in touch. Imagine having to write letters to friends and it taking weeks for a reply! So use your phone to send a quick text, tag them in memes, lock in weekly video calls and check in on their adventures on social media. And of course, you can also plan a trip to visit sometime!

It’s important to remember, things will change after school, but by putting in the effort, you can still maintain connections with those special friends you spent so much time with.

My friends seem to be too busy with work and/or study - I feel really left out

Juggling a new life after school can be strange, and for those working, jobs take up a big chunk of the week, especially if overtime is required. Studying may provide a bit more flexibility than work, but there will still be times of the year when it is extremely busy.

So the first step is - reach out and ask if they are doing okay. Check in with regards to their mental health and wellbeing to make sure they aren’t feeling too overwhelmed with life.

If they have been busy, then you need to try not to take offense (which can be hard!) But instead, suggest some fun things you can do together to help them take their mind off work or study - they will probably really appreciate the distraction and the effort you’re making to keep in touch. That’s what friends are for, right?

But from time-to-time, things don’t go quite as planned and unfortunately, sometimes friends drift apart after school. If you feel like the friendship is very one-sided (in that you are the one putting in all the work) then it may be a good idea to take a break and spend time with those who respect and appreciate your relationship.

Is it really that important to stay in contact with school friends?

There’s certainly no rule book that says you have to stay in touch with every person you went to school with. The fact is, some friendships won’t last outside of school - and that is absolutely, perfectly fine. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you (or them), it is just what happens in life when you get taken in different directions. People change and you may just not have the same things in common anymore, or relate to each other as easily as you once did.

Of course it’s always nice to have those special friends, where your relationship has stood the test of time and you know you’ll always have each other’s back. And perhaps you’ll only speak a couple of times a year, but that’s okay.

But do you know what, it’s actually a whole new world once finishing school and you’ll likely find yourself immersed in either work life or study - providing an opportunity to make new friends (which you will).

What’s important is that you don’t feel like a failure if you don’t keep in contact. It’s about being fulfilled with the friendships you do have, whoever those people are.

3 ways to maintain healthy connections

  1. Set up a regular hobby or recreational activity to do with friends - people are more likely to commit to something fun rather than just a general catch up.
  2. Use technology to keep in touch, video calls are perfect for this, you can even watch a favourite movie together while being hundreds of kilometres apart.
  3. Take turns planning surprise trips together. So even if life gets busy, you still have a dedicated day set aside for quality time.

Key websites

Stuff - Six great tips for keeping in touch with friends who live in another city/town.

The Spinoff - While this article was written for lockdown number one in March/April 2020, there are some great ideas for how to maintain connections when you can’t see each other in person. And we survived then, right?

Oxford Royal Academy - Ready to go the distance? Here’s how to nurture school friendships when you all go your separate ways after school finishes up