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I’ve known Kaitlin for over a decade— which is wild. How are we old enough to even have a friendship that is a fraction of our life?! It feels like just yesterday we were painting fraternity coolers.
UND and Alpha Phi
Kaitlin and I met at the University of North Dakota and we both rushed Alpha Phi in the same pledge class. We were the ones in the pledge class study sessions that paid attention and actually knew stuff.
When you’re young and in college together, you go through a lot. You learn a lot about yourself, your friends, and experiences during this season in life. My favorite memory with Kaitlin is from one of the most painful memories. After my university hearing from my assault, Kaitlin (who stayed the entire night) and I got a ride home from a university police officer. We went to Delt and ordered pizza only to eat it in silence together. She was there for me when I needed it most and it’s something I’ll forever be thankful for.
That experience shaped our friendship and how it would move forward. Some friends are there for a season and some are there for life. I like to think of them as “convenience fiends”— they’re there for you when you want to party or go out, but they’re not the ones who stay with you until after midnight and eat pizza in a dark, nasty basement after one of the worst nights of your life.
Friendships ebb and flow— even mine and Kaitlin’s did. But one thing that didn’t change was the love that we have for each other. You don’t have to talk to someone every single say to be close with them.
Kaitlin had moved out of state, I was finishing school. Kaitlin was going through a breakup, I was starting a really intense relationship. There have been hard times and good times.
The one thing that our friendship is built on is trust.
Peak bad relationship with my ex-fiance, I probably didn’t talk to Kaitlin for upwards of 3 or 4 months at a time. But Kaitlin gave me the space I needed because it would’ve driven a wedge between us. Her being honest with me was giving me that space to come to terms with the reality of what was going on.
And honestly, it took Kaitlin 2 1/2 years to even meet my ex-fiance. That was a red flag considering our friendship and how close we were. But she was still supportive of me.
A true friendship is being able to admit when you’ve screwed up.
When Kaitlin was with her previous person, people voiced concerns and it forced her into an isolation. She knew that in order to protect me, she needed to let me have space. But she’s also the friend that sent me flight details and helped me move across the country without asking anything in return.
Making Friends Wherever You Go
When you move, you’re starting over and given the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Of course you want a close group of friends, but you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. You have to be willing to do things you wouldn’t normally do like going to church and joining a group, going to happy hour with your coworkers, sitting at the park with your dog.
Don’t be untrue to yourself when trying to meet people. If you’re someone who doesn’t go out and drink often but you’re trying to meet people at the bars, they
If you are not someone who goes out consistently and your constantly going to the bar to make friends, just know that those people are going to assume you’ll want to always go out with them. Do things that suit your lifestyle.
I was partying and making stupid mistakes when I moved to Charleston. I told myself no one wanted to be friends with the new girl. But the people I met at the bars were the first ones to leave. The values are fundamentally different— convenience friends. And those friends are great if you want to go out! But if you need help moving or want a book club, they may not be the people you want to expect to lean on.
How do you know it’s over?
Self-reflection. If you know that a place or space is temporary and you stop getting excited about the season, it’s okay to give yourself permission to move on.
Content Not Comfortable
When you don’t have to push or make conversation for the sake of boredom— you shouldn’t feel like you’re waiting to clock out of work or friendship.
I live by a quote, “Create a life you don’t need a vacation from.”
If you feel like you need to escape or avoid your friends, maybe they’re not your people. You don’t have to pour energy into someone if it’s no longer serving you. You can also take a break from people and take a step back.
Long distance friendships are harder than relationships. There’s less of a sense of obligation to put in the effort. Kaitlin’s best friends are in North Dakota, Utah, and South Carolina (hi, me!) Having a foundation and knowing you don’t have to see someone 14 times a year is what
Long distance is hard, but it’s so much sweeter. When there are time zones between the two of you, every FaceTime and text is more intentional. When we do get together, we can catch up on the fluff and then just enjoy each other’s company.
You know it’s a good friendship when they’re willing to use their PTO on you.
No one has time for one-sided friendships. If you want a good friend, be a good friend. Friendships ebb and flow, but build something with trust. When you’re good friends you care about the happiness of the other person.
I don’t have time for new bad friends.—Kaitlin
ADVICE FOR YOUR YOUNGER SELF
Don’t be afraid to start over if it means a better life or outcome for you. Don’t just be comfortable with being comfortable. Change is scary, but do what’s best for you. If that means breaking up with a boyfriend, cutting communication, coming out of the closet— do it. No one has to live your life.
Born and raised in North Dakota, Kaitlin went to the University of North Dakota. After graduation, she moved to Miami, Florida for her Masters in Public Health. She moved to Atlanta, then to Oakland, and now she’s settled in San Fransisco with her dog and partner.