I had a chat with some friends today who started their lives in the United States and South Africa respectively, and have only moved to Australia in the last 2-10 years. We talked about when they go back to their home countries to catch up with friends and family, how hard it is to catch up with everyone, and how it ends up not being much of a holiday because you’re dragged from friends to family and back again everyday and there’s no time to just sit, rest and just see the countryside. I recently had a friend come home from London and had decided that he didn’t want to come back to Australia anymore because he too was dragged from pillar to post and there was no time to actually relax. I have another friend coming home from London over Christmas, and she keeps adding weeks to her previous visits home to make sure she has time to catch up with everyone because she feels so bad when she misses someone.
So what do these seasoned travellers do when they go home? Who do they decide who to see when they have limited time to be with the ones they love? The more seasoned of the travellers, the South African, who’d been here for over 10 years, said that she only sees those who keep in touch regularly, and the rest were never really friends at all. She’ll spend equal time with parents, and the rest will be visiting favourite and new places and catching up with friends who keep in contact frequently. Some of her best friends when they lived in her home country, she hasn’t heard from since she first left, leaving her feel hurt and realising that they weren’t friends at all. She has one friend, her longest friend of all time, who only contacts her for her birthday and Christmas, but she just knows that is who she is, and accepts it, so she is always on her list of people to visit. But it is so hard to be discerning.
The other friend hasn’t been home since moving here, and will be going back to the States for a month for Christmas. She too can’t believe those who were friends when she was at home have abandoned her now. She has evaluated the friendship she had with one other, and now recognises that she was actually the one putting in all the effort, so it’s fair to say that her friend wasn’t the slightest bit interested in continuing the friendship from afar.
My friend from London has decided not to come back in a hurry, because his mum was so proud of her little boy, that she invited all her friends over to see her precious little (almost 40 year old) son and he wasn’t interested in being paraded around and being put on a pedestal – he just wanted to relax, have a few beers and not have to think about being on his best behaviour. He’s decided that, as his sister has moved to China, it might be better to convince his mum and dad to meet him in China rather than come that little bit further out here.
As for my friendships, most of my real friends are living afar – London, the United States, Queensland with a few dear locals. When I’ve been overseas on holidays, the dear locals have kept in contact via Skype, Facebook or email, as do my friends from overseas. It is nice to know that they want to share in my adventures, happiness, worries and sorrows even when I’m not around the corner, as I want to know how their lives, achievements and concerns pan out. It’s just what friends do… they make the time and effort to enjoy the people that the care about, and want to share in their happiness and hardships no matter where they are.
So if you want to test a friendship, you don’t need to be so dramatic and move or go overseas, just see how often they contact you when you’re going through a busy patch and you haven’t had the time to contact them. You’ll soon see who the true friends are.