I was a freshman in college. I spent my days at school, studying fashion merchandising and print journalism. At night, you could find me going to yoga or making handmade flower crowns for my now-defunct Etsy “El Bambino.” I wore my hair long and black, half of it shaved off (which I still rock). My style was eccentric; a little all over the place, and definitely not the norm for my college town in Columbia, South Carolina. I never fit in at the University of South Carolina, so I used Instagram as a way to sell my flower crowns, promote my blog, and to connect with other people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Freshmen year meant living in a dorm and one day, as I was walking to the cafeteria across the street, I saw someone with the username @ashley_unicorn comment on one of my posts. I realized she was the sister of someone I followed and followed her back. She also had long black hair with half of it shaved off, and was studying fashion merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology. We quickly bonded over our similarities and added each other on Facebook.
I was going to send her flower crowns so she could promote them on her blog, another thing we had in common down to the .net domain, and eventually we traded numbers. I texted her, but never sent her crowns (sorry Ash!). Instead, we ended up talking almost every day, calling each other, FaceTiming, and everything in between. Ashley quickly became one of my best friends, and remains one to this day.
It would be two years before we met for the first time in real-life.
Fast forward to April 2015. It was a glorious day in New York City. I had just flown in from studying abroad in London, and I was in the city to interview for a few potential internships. After two years of growing and loving as BFFs do, Ashley and I finally getting to meet.
I will never forget how I felt that day. As I waited in Penn Station, my heart was pounding, my face probably felt a little numb from excitement, and I was ready to attack-hug my long-distance BFF. Then it happened. I spotted Ash’s bright red locks down the platform and I was off. Cue plenty of screaming, “OH MY GOD YOU’RE SO CUTE” and hugging.
I had my mom record the whole thing and, honestly, watching it still makes me emotional. How this hasn’t gone viral on the internet, I’m still not sure.
Meeting Ashley was one of the most exciting things to ever happen to me. Long-distance best friendships are like all the good parts of long-distance relationships with (almost) none of the bad parts. Not to say that being BFFs with someone who lives hours away is easy! It isn’t. It’s hard not being able to see someone you care about regularly. And while it was difficult while I was on the same coast as Ashley, it’s even crazier now that I’m on the west coast. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still friends.
Friendship means that although you may not talk every day, you’re still there for one another. When I need someone to talk to, Ash is there, and I know she can say the same for me. When I want to celebrate a cool piece I’m writing or complain about a boy, she’s there. And when she wants to celebrate a cool piece she’s writing or complain about a boy, I’m there for her, too.
It’s important to remember that friendship is give and take! Ashley and I schedule times to FaceTime or talk. We make sure that we listen to what the other has to say. We also help each other grow, even though we may not be in the physical presence of one another as we’re talking.
If I had to choose the most important thing I’ve learned from our friendship, it’s that friendship takes commitment! It means that you have to remember that it’s a relationship, which is a two-way road. Ashley and I are very different, but we are also very alike and her friendship has helped me grow as a person in so many ways. It has taught me that communication is vital, that love can survive miles and miles, and that there is no right way to love someone.
She’s taught me that just because you may handle a situation differently than someone else, that doesn’t mean there’s a “right” and a “wrong.” It’s taught me that Instagram is the best and that you can 1000% use social media as a way to connect to people and make new friendships.
More than anything, she’s taught me how beautiful it is to LOVE someone. How blessed I am to be able to have someone who I know will always be in my life. My long-distance friendship with Ashley has taught me that there is no ceiling on the amount of love I have to give. It just keeps growing and growing. And the internet can help!
I asked Ashley what she’s learned from our friendship and she said,
“They say when you’re in love, you’ll just KNOW. And I’ve learned it’s the same with best friendship. When you know, you know. Even if you haven’t met in real-life yet. Gaby and I had an undeniable connection from the start. I literally commented on her Instagram, “let’s be best friends,” and four years later, despite living in multiple different cities, we’ve maintained our friendship.
We always make time for each other and we are there for each other through thick and thin. Though we are SO MUCH alike, we’re also incredibly different. I’ve learned so much from her about life, about different cultures and beliefs, and about having a more positive outlook on life. I’ve learned long-distance friendship can be easy when you both really care about each other and make time for each other no matter what. We helped each other through college, heart-break, growing pains, and the passage into adulthood. Cheesy as it sounds, Gaby has made me a better person. And it all started on Instagram!!
Since we met, Ashley and I have both graduated college, fallen in and out of love, gotten internships and real-life jobs, cut our hair, and have grown as humans (and many other fun things in between!).
And I think more than anything else that’s what this friendship has taught me; that to be friends with someone, to love someone, means to grow with them. It means being conscious of the amazing person they are and encouraging that. It means calling someone at 3 a.m. when your heart’s broken and you know they can help sew it together. It means that even after two years of not seeing each other, it feels like two weeks.
True love is great — but true friendship, that will last you a lifetime.