Long-distance relationships. I don’t like the term. Because the connotation just sounds so negative. Like distance is the only thing defining that relationship. What is a long distance anyways? Because it’s all so relative. I think you can experience more distance with someone sitting across from you at the kitchen table compared to someone on the other side of the globe. And yet, they are hard. Really, really hard. Because you try to be there, without actually being there.
Someone asked me this weekend: ‘Wouldn’t you rather be home now?’ By home meaning being with my loved ones in the Netherlands.
It got me thinking. And my honest answer back then was ‘No’. Because I really am happy where I am right here and right now. I’ve made my choice. For now I want to stay. Even though I have no clue what is going to happen next. But my honest answer right now would be ‘Yes’. I would love to be home. Even if it was just for a day. But in a world where we are more connected than ever before, due to technology and mobility, these relationships are almost unavoidable. At least in my life, they aren’t. And whereas I used to say that I didn’t really believe in long distance, because they would never work, I tend to believe now that they do. Because I am willing to make them work somehow.
Okay, I am not just talking about long distance love relationships. The boyfriend-girlfriend type of thing. Because then I would have to write about that they are challenging and about intimacy and about what not more. I want to keep a bit more open. I am also talking about the relationship with my mum and my dad and my sister and my grandpa and grandma and friends and family. I am talking about camp brothers and sisters all over the world. I am talking about colleagues on the other side of the country. About friends on the other side of the hill in Kampala. Okay, maybe not those per se, but my point is clear. I cannot be in close proximity to everyone all the time. And that sometimes sucks.
It doesn’t just suck. It requires a lot of commitment and integrity to maintain the relationships that truly matter. Yesterday I talked with some of my closest friends. People that I know will always be there for me and that can tell when I need to man up and figure stuff out. People that give their critical opinion, because that’s sometimes what you need to hear or simply, kind words of encouragement.
Commitment is about how much can you trust that you think you like the person? Following me? I am talking about trusting that your relationship is not just about the moments you are in close proximity when things are in a sort of honeymoon phase. Do you like the person enough that you are willing to invest in that person, be it family, a friend, your neighbour, your cat, a potential love interest, an old colleague, you name it. Are your relationships really grounded in reality?
And if the answer is ‘yes’, the integrity comes into play. Because it’s so easy to let these types of relationships just linger. Send a text once in a while. Have them around because you are too lazy or simply too comfortable to do anything about them. And here’s where I value the people in my life that dare to question my integrity.
Integrity is choosing courage over comfort. It’s choosing what is right over what is fun, or easy. It’s choosing to practice your values rather than simply professing them.
And when I then think about it, I come to the conclusion that long-distance relationships in my life are not the easy ones. But they are the ones that are absolutely worth it. And even though I realise I can’t keep up with everyone, everywhere in the world, there’s definitely a good bunch of people out there, that deserve my commitment and integrity. I also came to the conclusion that I make plenty of mistakes because of distance. I assume that we both feel the same way about the distance. That we’re just colleagues or friends or distant relatives, whereas I might just have to initiate that ‘where do we actually stand’ conversation sometime in the near future. That I should just pick up the phone and call you.
To tell you ‘I miss you’. And that long-distance sucks. But that we have the relationship part of it and in whatever context it may be, that matters to me. That no matter how far we are apart, I am home with you. And for that, I am truly grateful and consider myself a richer person because of it. Even though I might sometimes have to ask you to let me go.