A few years ago, my ex asked me who I’m closest with: friends from home, friends from school, or friends from abroad. I never answered him, but I’ve since thought of that question on occasion, and I have come to the conclusion that I’m not more or less close to each of the groups; the levels of friendship and connection are just so different. These people are part of significant phases of my life, and perhaps each group knows me in a different way than the others.
My friends from home have known me since I was ten years old, and they have, no doubt, seen me grow the most. These people have watched me change, and vice versa. There’s something about growing up constantly surrounded by the same friends, seeing slow evolutions in each other, and sharing experiences that shape us both as individuals and as a system. All of this transforming brought us to a level of friendship that can only be achieved with time. And all of this time has brought us ups and downs that only continue to bring us closer. They are my cornerstone, the building blocks of who I am, the very core of where my growth began, and one of the main ingredients to my happiness. My friends from home are the ones I am glad to always have. No matter how far down the road, I know I will have them to come home to.
It was hard to imagine who my college friends would be and what role they would play in my life until I found them. Turns out, they’re some of the best friends to have around. College friends get to know you in incredible ways–at house parties and bars, hungover in dorms, during all-nighters at the library, and every other second in between. These are friends who live with you–sometimes literally–and get to see who you are while you’re in the process of finding yourself and potentially, who you’re going to be for the rest of your life. They are there to watch you overcome the most difficult challenges you will ever face, and if you’re lucky, they’ll be right next to you every step of the way, making the same exact horrible decisions. I have formed unbreakable bonds with my college friends, and with them I’ve learned how little time can affect friendship. They are my support networks and secret-outlets, my squad, and the bottom line is that they get to know me better than most people ever do.
Sigh. Sevilla friends. These are people with whom I have created an entirely new bubble of friendship. They are there, living in the stories that I will be telling for the rest of my life. These friendships formed exceptionally fast, and I think that might be the reason for our extremely high comfort levels with each other. Suddenly I found myself in a foreign country with just a suitcase and this group of people to hold on to. And I did. We all did. Fortunately I don’t think we will ever let go. What we’ve been through were some of the best moments of our lives, and that is not something to be taken lightly. We’ve seen the world, pushed through borders and boundaries, and fell in love with the same city together. Through all of this, and in less than half a year, what we did was more than travel. We left parts of ourselves with each other, in all corners of the world, and if that doesn’t bond you for life then I’m not sure what does.
Since this question was posed to me, I entered a new phase in my life which has brought yet another incredible group of people into my life: my Seoul friends. The last three years in South Korea have been life life life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all my experiences here. I’ve grown part of different communities–teachers, foreigners, local yogis and runners–who have welcomed me and helped me to see the life I’ve built in this country. I hold close the group of friends I made within the first few days of arriving, and I think that through meeting them I became solid in who I already was. We all got to know each other exactly as we were and as we still are, and I have nothing but gratitude for the fact that we loved each other through flaws and mistakes.
Most recently I’ve been thinking about the running and yoga families I’ve come to know and love here in Seoul the last two years. When I first walked into Zen Yoga studio, and first went to an open run for Crewghost, I never thought it would become a completely engrained and habitual attendance. Now I go to my yoga studio 5-8 times and to a crew run at least once or twice, both per week. Spending as much time sharing a mutual passion with a group of people for hours at a time brings you together without even trying–certainly regardless of language. These two communities have brought me joy and support, and a family to back me in the goals that no one else can understand.
As I come to realize that I have just five short months left before a new adventure, I’ve been thinking a lot about who I’ve spent my years with. And as I get ready to leave this group of friends to visit the others, all I can feel is gratitude. To have so much love from around the world. To know that I can turn to so many to receive all kinds of needs. To understand that I can be a different version of myself and still be loved for it. To find that I am open and lucky enough to be able to connect with so many souls. And to recognize that with time, I am changing for the better. How do I know all this? Because each time I come back to all of the people I love, no matter how long it’s been or how far I’ve gone, I never doubt that the love and connection and friendship remain.