Prior to 2010, my Friday and Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) nights were spent ‘out out’ in my home town of Maidstone, with my best friend, Becky. Whilst each night out was a different adventure, the common theme was alcohol and keeping each other up all night talking about anything and everything. I lived for the weekend and all week we would spend planning the weekend’s antics. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn’t change those years for the world. Memories were made and I learnt a lot, especially not to drink on an empty stomach and photos that are posted of a night out hang around on the internet for a long time, BUT, our friendship changed a lot when I returned from my 4 month solo adventure.
Before that trip, I couldn’t imagine sharing the sorts of things I did with Becky with anyone else. I found it hard to imagine going 4 months without our weekly drunken adventures. Becky came with my parents to drop me to the airport and I remember wishing she could come with me. It should be noted, she did not wish she was coming with me; partly because I had told her backpacking involved going days without a shower, let alone without straightening your hair! Needless to say, I made friends. A lot of them. Anyone that has been backpacking will know how easily this is done. Everyone is in the same boat; everyone I met had a best friend at home they were missing.
When I returned from my trip, we went out for New Years Eve. It was a good night, but it felt ‘different’. I had experienced all these firsts and Becky had continued her weekly nights out, without anything significant changing. All of you who travel understand what I mean by the discomfort of returning to your hometown and realising nothing has changed. It is a strange feeling and one I was not wholly prepared for. I wanted to still look forward to our weekends in the way I had done before. I desperately wanted everything to fall back into place. To visit the same bars and clubs (and kebab houses) and to wake up the next morning laughing about the night before. But, for the first time in my life, I was distracted by something else. Something bigger. My trip hadn’t ‘satisfied’ my urge to travel, it had simply made me want to travel more. Instead of happily spending £10 on a taxi and god knows how much on disgusting coloured shots without a care in the world, I was now more conscious of money, as I knew it was my route to more travel. What would have been a £15 round of drinks, was now money I wanted to put towards my next trip. My weekends no longer revolved around my nights out, but furious planning for my next trips. And Becky couldn’t possibly have understood this. Because she hadn’t experienced what I had.
Below, Becky provides her perspective of the change in our friendship...
"When Sophie told me that she was going on an adventure, I wasn't really surprised. We are almost polar opposites, and Sophie is the free spirit. So when she shared the news, it was a mixture of excitement for her and also sadness for me, as I would be losing my best friend for a few months. We had fallen into a fun routine. We were fresh out of uni, finding our feet in our careers and going wild (sometimes a bit too wild!!) at weekends. It was us being young, wild and free.
I'm naturally super adaptable so I re-focused my attention during Sophie's adventures. We chatted loads and we looked forward to being re-united, but life went on. I focused on my new HR career, new friends I was meeting and my relationship.
When Sophie did return, it felt different in some way. I assumed it was that she now had the travelling bug and didn't like being at home. It's so interesting for me to hear how Sophie felt, as I had absolutely no idea. If I'm honest, as her path was so different to mine, I'll admit that I thought she was lost! Choosing to keep "busy" travelling and avoiding the "real world". As I've grown up, I know that's not what it was. She was following her heart, listening to her intuition and making it happen! That's what's missing from a lot of unhappy people. I'm now following her path and using my own 'Sophie spirit' exploring travelling and time away from the "real world".
It's such an interesting topic to explore how friendships change through distance and solo travel. Absence definitely did make the heart grow fonder, but it seemed we were on different paths with different focuses when we reunited. We will always be close and reminisce and be there for each other though. The friendship, the madness and the support will always keep us together.
At the time, I wish there could have been some guidance or expectation management for us to help us navigate through the change in our friendship dynamic. Sophie has such wonderful plans to support others to live the remote lifestyle and I'm so proud!"
What I find amazing is that after everything, Becky and I have ended up on similar entrepreneurial paths! Our text conversations now involve discussions about personal development books, project management and email marketing. Our friendship has been on a journey of its own in the last decade and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Disclaimer; The photos featured in this blog post have been deemed suitable and have been approved by Becky!