Since 2018, I’ve always chosen a word at the beginning of the year as the central point to focus on my effort for that particular year.
In 2018, I moved to Gothenburg, Sweden, and I chose ‘root’ for the word that year. It was apt; I needed to put down roots in this new place in a new country, with a new culture and new people. In 2019, I chose the word ‘bloom’. As I’d established the foundation the previous year, I switched gears to growing in and improving some aspects of my new life in Sweden. I focused on improving my Swedish, growing my career, and being a part of Swedish society.
For this year, I chose the word ‘nurture’. I’ve had pretty significant success with choosing a word of intention each year and sticking to it. The 2 words I chose in 2018 and 2019 guided me to stay in the right direction whenever I started to go astray. And now I can navigate life in Sweden at ease (most of the time at least), my Swedish has improved, and I’m satisfied with where I’m at in my career.
But as I worked hard on these things in the last 2 years, some areas in my life were neglected, or didn’t get enough attention as they should. One of those is my relationships with friends and family.
And that’s why 2020 is the year that I’m working on it; nurturing it.
Adult friendships are different. We no longer have the luxury of the same schedule and timeline, or living in the same place. Proximity, which we used to take for granted, is not something that we always have. Our goals bring us to different places, with different people, at different paces. Each of us has grown in the years since the first time we’ve met. We’re no longer the same people, and at least for me, we don’t live in the same city (and country). It’s inevitable that we grow apart — some too much, some just a little. Relationships, especially long-distance ones, need work. We can’t expect it to thrive without putting in the time, attention, and care for it.
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve started making more effort to get in touch with my old friends. Some of them I hadn’t talked to in years; and with others, we just exchanged occasional memes, followed with short conversations afterward. But this Easter weekend, I talked to more friends than I’d done in months. Long, deep conversations that lasted more than 1 hour. And it felt really, really good. As I saw their faces on my tiny screen, I was transported back to the late nights some years ago, where we talked exactly like this. My heart swelled with longing — for them, for the old times, and for a wish that we could meet again and do this face-to-face. And every time we ended the video call, I found myself thinking, I wish I’d done this sooner.
The intention to reconnect has always been there, it’s just a shame that I never actually, really made the time until the global pandemic hit the world and I found myself with more time at home. It’s also a much-needed slap for me, that I need to set aside time to work on these relationships, and not just squeeze it between my activities, in whatever time I have left.
So, hello old friends. I promise I’ll do better this time.