Home » capucinecogne » My Blog » Blog » What I now value in friendships

I used to be one of those people with a million friends. I’m sure you know one of them. Somebody who always seems to be meeting up with someone new and has plans every single night for the two weeks ahead.

Moving to a city where I knew nobody changed that for me. It was the first time in my life I did this – without a university context to help make new friends. The first ten months were the hardest, and loneliest, in my life. But everything turned around when I made friends.

Chengdu is a city in Western China that has a very gloomy winter, during which it is extremely rare to see the sun. It’s just grey. Always.

The first winter, I would tell family “I never quite realized how much weather impacted my mood until this”, because I constantly felt gloomy. And yet, the second winter in Chengdu, I was so happy.

What changed? Friends. True friends. Only five, but one’s all you need. I had never before spent that amount of quality time with the same people, consistently. In my London life, I saw those I considered best friends maybe for a two-hour dinner once a month. In Chengdu, I spent at least the whole of Saturday with three of my friends, if not other evenings during the week as well.

That sense of belonging changed Chengdu’s weather for me the second winter.

Humans need connection and belonging. It’s not something you reproduce over social media, or even over the phone. A proper catch up, that gets past the surface level updates of the first hour, takes time. And its that time, which slowly but steadily, creates the sense of belonging.

Add the new experiences and memories you make together, and your friendship becomes even more precious.

I’m not saying ditch the acquaintances, or the friends you only see occasionally. They’re amazing too – in a different way. I’m saying know deep, consistent friends’ value, and act on it. Give them that time.

I used to call a good friend across the world and do a million things whilst listening to them (I know I’m not the only one who does it 😉). That’s not quality time – you’re giving them only half your attention. It can happen when you are in the same room with someone too.

When I see friends now, I put my phone away (physically and emotionally) and give them my undivided attention. The value of our time multiplies, the connection deepens, and its so damn wonderful.

I wish I had learnt this sooner. We all need connection, but often neglect to invest the time needed in building those connections.

Try it for yourself, invest in your friendships.

It makes a world of difference.

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