Maintaining Healthy Relationships While in Grad School (Or While You’re Trying to Be the Best Version of Yourself)

This is something I fail at on a consistent basis so I do not consider myself an authority on the subject, but I do have a great deal of experience, and I want to share some advice with you.

When I first started grad school, it was a lot easier to keep in touch with my family and folks back home. Now, that I’ve finished my first year, I am more situated in graduate student life and the new city. I have more responsibilities, a new relationship, new friends, and consequently, less time.

I haven’t even binged watched anything in a few months. It’s depressing.

But I am happy to report that I am enjoying my life and feeling fulfilled in most things that I do. More sleep and less adult things like taxes would be nice, but I have no major complaints.

A lot of my well being has to do with friends and family members who aren’t pressed that I can’t spend every waking minute talking to or seeing them. They’re supportive of my goals and aspirations and are okay that during peak busy seasons the most they’ll hear from me is an “I’m alive” text.

But it’s also important to know that while you’re shooting for the stars, your friends and family have equally important things going on in their lives and need your support and love as well.

So I’ve created some tips and reminders to help keep your relationships strong even with distance or work or school in between you.

#1 Identify the most important people in your life. And schedule fixed times to talk to them. 

My mom works graveyard shifts from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. I live in a state that’s three hours ahead. So my mom and I typically talk when I get ready in the morning for work and she’s just getting off.

#2 Texts aren’t meaningless.

Simple check-in texts to see how your friends are doing through out the day can do wonders. It takes two seconds out of your day. And although it seems like everything needs your full attention in that moment, it’s okay to break away and say hello to your good ol’ pals.

#3 It’s okay, if you can’t respond right away. 

Unless someone is in immediate danger, it’s okay to push a text back until a few hours later when you have more time.

#4 FaceTime dates are real dates

I am guilty of not living up to this, but it’s important to know. If you make a commitment to FaceTime your mom or your sister at 8 o’clock on Sunday, you are busy to everyone else at 8 o’clock on Sunday. Backing out on commitments is a sure fire way to ruin a relationship.

#5 Use social media to keep up with the important stuff

Sometimes you can’t always connect, but social media has provided folks of the 21st century with incredible means to say in touch when you’re miles apart. Leave a comment on your friends picture letting them know you’re thinking about them and you’re looking forward to seeing them the next time you’re in town.

#6 Snail mail is the best kind of mail

A really good friend of mine started an internship in Mississippi, and I can’t remember the last time I actually heard her voice, but she’s sent me a couple of postcards sending her love, and it’s a good reminder that we’re still thinking of one another.

#7 It’s okay to drop folks who simply can’t support you right now .

If folks can’t understand that you’re busy reaching your goals and constantly make you feel bad about it, it may be time to get out the scissors and cut ties. Friendships and relationships change as you get older, and something people have to realize is that you’re not available in the way you were when you were younger. And that’s okay. You are growing in all facets of your life.