I acknowledge that my college friend group is probably a rarity — I’m one of 32 “Friends from College” in our GroupMe message.
That said, with that big group of people in my back pocket, I’ve had to get creative with how I keep in touch with those friends — especially now that we’re split up around the country.
Granted, I do keep a People File, but that’s a story for another time.
Because we’re so spread out and all making an attempt at adulting, it’s not always an option, financially or timewise, to get together for a friend’s reunion.
So we’ve improvised.
Here are some creative ways my fraaands and I have cooked up that makes it pretty easy, regular, and expected to ping each other. 💁🏻♀️
1. Train for an event together
One of my bridesmaids and her husband live in Seattle, two time zones away from me, and when he was deployed for the second time, I volunteered to train for a half marathon with her.
Since that first day of training, we’ve been in daily contact for the past 12 weeks. Every day? you ask. Yep.
Sometimes it’s as simple as a screenshot of our running data.
Not only have we bonded over hitting our mile times along the way, but we’ve had each other’s backs for the quick change in temperatures or how horrible some race pace runs have been. We get to cheer each other on, and even though she’s not putting in the miles physically alongside me, I know she’ll be there with a pound emoji once I’ve hit my distance…and that her legs will be covering the same distance later that day.
If you’re not a runner or a racer, you can still make this work for you! There a plenty of goals you and your friends could work toward together if geography separates you — from hot dog eating contests to breakdancing showdowns to auditioning for Chopped.
Picking up a new hobby with a college friend, whether that involves a competitive finish line or not, gives you a shared interest — so not only will you be en communicado with him/her more regularly, but every time you dive in, you’ll be reminded of your friend.
And bonus if you take on something you never thought you could do!
2. Start an “Everything You Need to Know About My Week” newsletter
My college roommate and I were really close, as in we’d get home from a long day of classes and tell each other everything about our days.
And now we live eight hours away from each other, I’m married, and she’s finishing up her doctorate degree. We’re in very different places in life and both are very busy.
Coordinating calls — in which we could never cover the breadth of topics we wanted — was tough around my full-time job and new marriage and her dissertation writing, courses she taught, and massive PhD social calendar.
So we started a newsletter. A complete, no-punches-held email about our weeks in review — the electronic equivalent of our nightly college venting sessions.
We’re both pretty Type A, so our newsletter usually ends up looking like a neatly organized outline. But it’s all the need-to-knows about upcoming events, life updates, and current obsessions.
But the medium of email works perfectly for collecting everything in one place — I can fully express my sassiness with gifs and emojis; I can link out to my current Song on Repeat; and all of it can be waiting in my bff’s inbox for the next second she has a free moment to read it.
3. Deem a traveling token
We have a traveling sweatshirt.
There’s no Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants magic that makes it conform to fit all 32 guys and girls — it’s mostly a physical token of our friendship that gets passed from one of us to the next.
Obviously, the current holder has the option of wearing it, but so can his/her dog.
What’s less important about this idea is that it’s a piece of clothing. What’s more important is that it’s getting passed along, as well as your shared connection.
What about one of those A Line A Day journals? Or your school’s flag? Choosing something that holds sentimental value to your friend group keeps that friend connection front of mind and gives your token a better story over the years.
And if shipping expenses are too high, choose an electronic token — like sending around a digital photo book in which everyone can add their favorite pictures from school.
4. Join an online community together
When I started adulting, I had to face the facts — I no longer had those easy-to-join, built-in accountability school communities anymore.
No more university waterski club to make sure I’m progressing in my slalom form. No more rec sports classes to get me out of bed for that 8 a.m. spin class. No more Catholic college to include Holy Days in my daily planner.
If I wanted that accountability and support of my interests, I needed to seek out communities that had those same goals. And it turns out, my college friends felt like they needed that, too!
By getting real with each other and talking through these “something’s missing” holes that became apparent after graduation, we’ve worked together to fill those.
Now a few of my friends and I are part of an international Instagram fitness community, while a few more of us make our reading lists from our GroupMe Book Club.
Is there an area of your life you want help expanding? Reach out and ask your friends to support you in pursuit of a community that fosters your best self and expands your horizons. They’ll be more open to reciprocating.
Building those shared interest bridges outside of college — especially those that encourage you and your friends to work together toward your best selves — is just another way you can stay connected with your friends post-college.