When you go through school and then settle down at work, you meet all sorts of people.

Some of them you call “friends”.
A few, “best friends.”
And the rest of them…well, are nothing more but a faint memory.

I personally like having a few close friends vs hundreds of casual ones. But as I grow older, I can’t help but feel sad to see most of my relationships fade away by distance, by conflicting interests, by others who play a bigger role in their life. But most of all, by time.

I realized time breaks the strength in relationships. It dissolves whatever fond memories you once had with someone into thin air as you focus on higher priorities, like your career, your partner, your daily chores, and the goals you haven’t yet accomplished.

Eventually, as time passes by and the both of you build new lifestyles, you feel more like a stranger.

What happened to the good old days? What happened to us? You might think.

I’m sure many of you have been through this dilemma countless times where your friends “come and go.” But  this is normal. This is life.

But one day, something happened to me that completely changed the way I see friendships now.

The turning point

“Hey, don’t worry. We’ll always be best friends.”

Those were the last words my friend said before I released her from a hug.

She was about to fly to Europe to work for her family’s business, while I was preparing my trip to China. We were going to be half a world apart, working hectically on our new careers. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure if we’d have the time to chat as we usually do.

People typically forget about you once they’ve figured out their path and they start investing more time in their work and in those who are (physically) there for them. I mean, we all need someone by our side to share our lives with while we grow. Right?

As I took more time to reflect on my thoughts, I knew. Our friendship, just like most friendships, would end in a flash.

So with tears and a cracked heart, I trudged back home — thinking I’d never see my best friend again.

Photo Credit: Mike Wilson

Until one Sunday morning, I got a surprise visit.

“Guess who?!

Omg Tiffany, it’s been 2 years already and you look better than I last saw you! How’s everything going?”

I blinked twice, making sure my eyes weren’t fooling me. Was this really my best friend? 

My friend stood next to the door, tapping her foot impatiently with her arms folded.

C’mon already. It’s freezing outside. Why don’t we grab some coffee and catch up on stuff? I only have a few days here. How about it?

I stood there, speechless.

Who knew my best friend would randomly drop by to see me? Even though we haven’t texted each other for months?

It was then when I realized, it’s up to us — our mutual love and our willingness to shift priorities — to keep our friendships strong. And the decisions we make — to take action and preserve our connection, or do nothing and blame it on time — is what determines whether the spark of a friendship will keep burning or die out.

If you think your friendship is worth it, take the initiative and show it. After all,

Time doesn’t define how friendships turn out. We do.