Online Friends are Real Friends

No matter what anyone else thinks.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

I don’t have many “in real life” friends these days.

By which I mean, I don’t have many friends that I see in person or talk to on a regular basis.

Last year, three of my best friends moved out of state all within a few months of each other and I felt very cut off from the world of friends and socialization.

I’m a terrible long distance friend, you see.

I hate talking on the phone more than most things in life, and I’ve come to find that if you don’t stay in constant contact with people once they move away it’s hard to keep the momentum of the relationship going.

Things and people can have the tendency to fall by the wayside for me when they aren’t right in front of my face all the time.

I do my best to stay in touch, but I’m not good at it.

The staying in touch has to be mutual for me to be receptive.

If I text you all the time but you never text me back, or weeks go by and I don’t hear from you, I get the feeling that you don’t want to talk to me, and then more time goes by without talking, and so on, until the friendship dissolves.

But, I’ve learned a lot about friendship this year that was unexpected and wonderful.

Specifically, that online friends are real friends, and sometimes they turn out to be the best of friends.

I don’t remember the first time Iva Ursano and I started messaging each other on Facebook, but for the last few months, she’s been my rock as I’ve gone through phlebotomy school and worked on my writing.

A while ago, she invited me to be co-editor of Hopes and Dreams for Our Future and we started talking even more and working closely with each other to make the best publication we can.

She lives in Guatemala, I live in Connecticut, USA — the likelihood that we will meet in person any time soon is very low, or even non-existent when you consider my financial situation, but having never met her doesn’t matter at all to me.

Through all this, Iva has become someone I consider to be one of my best friends, and I’ll tell you why.

Every day, no matter what, we have checked in on each other to see how we are doing.

Even if it’s just a “Hey, good morning, what’s up, have a nice day!” we’ve been in contact daily for months and I feel like I know her better than I’ve known some “real life” friends that have been in my life for years.

The fact that we don’t have any history between us somehow opens me up and makes me feel like I can talk to her about anything, and be totally, authentically me in our friendship, and that is something I consider priceless in a time when good friendships are so hard to come by.

I remember back in the beginning days of the internet when people started connecting with others online and it was a taboo kind of thing.

What if that person is crazy, or stalker? You don’t know anything about them!

But times have changed, and with time, friendships have changed.

The way they are created, the things that we value in them, and the way we feel about people whether we’ve met them or not. The fact that I feel more connected to this person I’ve never met than to some of the people who’ve moved on from my life recently says a lot about what I value in a friendship.

Consistency.

Honesty.

Mutual respect and understanding.

And mostly, the willingness to be champions for each other’s dreams.

Frankly, my “real life” friends couldn’t seem to care less about my writing dreams and goals, and I am always surprised when one of them asks how it’s going because it happens so infrequently.

Not so with Iva, who is always there for me when I text her, and always cheering me on.

The truth is, I’m surprised that I feel this way about a person I’ve never met in real life.

Until now, I didn’t know that it was possible to feel so close and connected to someone I’ve never met, and I am so thankful that I gave that person on the other end of my messenger to come into my life and change it.

Iva, this is my ode to you, for being there for me during a stressful, challenging time in my life when so many of my friends were absent, for being so supportive and encouraging when I needed it, and for being a bright light in a time of real darkness.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve met “in real life.”

Friends are friends, whether you’ve met in person or not.

What makes a good friend is the way you feel about a person and the way a person makes you feel about yourself, and in the end, that’s what matters most.

I am so grateful that I kept talking to that stranger online all those months ago, and I hope I can make even more connections through likeminded writers on Medium, because here, the combination of good writers and great people can’t be beat.

I love you, Iva

You’re a life-changer, through and through.