Hello everybody, welcome to episode 217 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is on missing old friends after a move.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
So glad to have you all here today as we actually take a question from a younger listener which is always very nice. Love seeing the younger crowd take mindful approaches with their troubles and being willing to open up and ask for help. Gives one hope for the future. Our asker today though has a predicament that sure is similar to many predicaments that older people face. Let’s hear what they have to say, break down the similarities and figure out some solutions for all of us. Here’s the question…
QUESTION: “I’m 17 years old and my family recently moved from Quebec to Ottawa, Canada because of a job opportunity for my Dad. I understand that he had to take the job, so I’m trying not to be mad about it. But I haven’t been able to make any friends since moving. I really miss my friends from Ottawa, where I grew up. We Zoom a lot and I’ve been back to visit once. I thought that’d be enough but it really isn’t. Instead it’s like I feel worse whenever I see them. This is something I’d really like to get over and move on with my life and I’m wondering if you have any tips you could give me. Thank you.”
Worry and Control
Ah, my heart goes out to you. I’ve been in kind of the same situation with a move I once made. And this may sound weird, but I’ve also been in the same situation after a breakup. The thing is that those two scenarios actually have a lot more in common that you might think, and the same could be even be said about a child whose parents make them give a favorite toy to a younger sibling once they’ve outgrown it.
What links these examples with your story? Well, I once made a video talking about worry. It was in response to the late Wayne Dyer, who was a really prominent figure in this industry. One of his more famous theories was that worrying is useless, because you either can or can’t control everything in your life. If you can control it, there’s no need to worry, and if you can’t, there’s also no need to worry because it’s totally out of your hands.
But to me, what this doesn’t factor in, and what is true in your story and the other examples I mentioned, is the third category. The third category is stuff we’re unsure about whether or not we can control.
And especially these days as a lot of us are believing that we can control our whole destinies, there’s even more effort we put forth to try to change things that we really don’t have much say over it, but we could swear we do anyway.
Zoom Friendships and Distance
This situation is tough for you because your friends are so in reach. Zoom makes it easy to see their faces. And Ottawa and Quebec are no more than 200 miles apart (which I only know because of how closely I’ve followed hockey my whole life). So there’s still a sense of possibility, right?
It makes it very easy to hang on to those old days because it feels like they’re only sort of gone. It’s not like you moved to a different country or didn’t have a phone or computer to talk to them with. You’d think that this would make staying in touch easier, but you’re right, sometimes it makes the whole thing worse, because you can be tricked into thinking they’re more in reach than they really are; or that your past can be resurrected.
This isn’t easy. So don’t pressure yourself to “get over it”, as you put it. There’s nothing wrong with missing your friends and doing what you can to stay in touch with them. After all, all this effort is a sign that you have good friends in your life and are capable of making good friends, which is something to be thankful for. Right?
Life and Changes
But that doesn’t mean that life doesn’t go on, or that life won’t always have changes. I tried to avoid this truth like the plague at age 17, and in many ways, foolishly, I still try to find ways around it. This is never going to work for either of us, though.
But you know what? Even though things have and will continue to change on me, just as they do for all adults, I’m still here with a lot to be thankful for. And you will be, too. You’re better at adapting to changes than you might think; that I promise you.
So let’s talk about how you can adapt to this change right now and get good at this process early on in life.
It's Time to Do Two Things
Your question is full of information about your old friends and what you’ve done for them and with them. But I’ve heard nothing about trying to make new ones. It’s time for you to do two things:
- accept that the past is the past, and
- build a future to be excited about.
They go hand in hand and work best when you’re working on both of them.
I know that when you think of grieving, you don’t think about moving away from old friends. But this is still a form of grief. When you think about your friends and you past, try to celebrate what you had and honor it. Reflect on it, be thankful for it, consider what it taught you, wish them well, and yes, stay in touch with them. But don’t try to get it back.
It may not sound like there’s a big difference there, but there is. Even saying out loud to yourself “I’m so thankful for those friends and I’ll stay in touch with them, but that phase of my life isn’t here anymore, and I have what it takes to make this new phase just as good, if not better” will help a lot.
Make that your mantra for a while and see how much healthier it makes your thoughts.
Old Friends, New Friends, and Support Systems
And it’s of equal importance to spend some time actually trying to make new friends. The time that you’d spent trying to plan trips or Zoom with your old friends, put at least a little bit of it towards trying to find new friends, and see what happens.
You’ll probably find this will be easier as things continue to loosen up with the pandemic, too. One way of doing this all at once might be sharing funny stories of old friendships with new friends or teaching new friends games that you used to play with your old friends. This might feel sad at first, but it’s a good way to celebrate the past and use everything you gained from it to create a great future for yourself.
And last thing, don’t forget that your family members are going through the same type of thing right now. I’m sure you feel very lonely in this whole transition, but of course your family members had their own lives, friends and experiences that they’ve left behind, too. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about your feelings.
You might find that this brings all of you closer in some ways, as you’re all facing the same struggle together and can be great support systems for one another.
Thanks a lot to the listener who sent this question in. Hopefully your question and the episode that it sparked has helped you and many others think a little differently about where worry comes from and how to combat it by submitting to it rather than fighting it.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that it helps me to re-examine some thoughts about my own move that I brought up at the beginning. So thank you from me, and thank you on behalf of everyone else listening who took something from this one.
It’s time to wrap up though, gang. I’ll be back with you for more on Friday as we’ll tackle one more question before the weekend. Don’t miss out. Looking forward to talking to you all then.