During a family holiday to Greece, me and my sister befriended two girls staying at the same resort. We promised to keep in contact by writing letters to one another. I broke our pen pal arrangement months later and gave up responding. Now as a blogger I maintain friendships with people across the world. Last weekend, I met one Instagram friend in person.
The great expectation
Long-distance friendships feel normal – comfortable. Most of my relationships build themselves on distance and conversation via technology. I rarely have the luxury to call a friend and casually arrange a coffee date – socialising requires timed planning. But isn’t that how friendships work nowadays? Especially when you hit late twenties and realise your bestie has a child and another’s travelling.
Neeta remembers our first online conversation perfectly whereas I struggle to recall a time we haven’t been talking. During my early endeavour on social media, I truly made effort to reach out to others and establish connections. Neeta being a personal trainer and yoga and pilates instructor, inspired me to stay focused on improving my health. I remember seeing her yoga poses and thinking how effortlessly she photographs with balance.
Over the years Neeta has remained a continuous presence. When I started my blog, she was there reading and supporting my posts; when asking her to feature, she immediately said yes. Regardless of our online rapport, meeting in person felt strange because you never know how face-to-face translates. I thought, we’re either going to sit awkwardly and realise we just have fitness in common, or the idea of an Instagram friend will transition to “regular” friendship.
Instagram friend fears
Neeta appeared exactly as I expected. Friendly, confident and at ease. When we waited for our Starbucks, I didn’t think – I’m standing besides a stranger. What seems crazy; my blog readers know insights about me which family members don’t know. My friends support my writing but don’t stay updated on posts.
Although a first meeting, her knowledge of me portrays equivalence to secrets shared amongst decade friendships. It’s fascinating to wonder whether conversations on blogs match up to chats enjoyed over dinner. Is it really the same? I feel insecurity surrounding my blogging and Instagram persona. No two people in my life describe me the same. In person, I’m typically shy and quiet. Hidden walls perimeter my body. Once knowing me, I’m sarcastic, deep, a lover of laughing and desperate to forever explore new places.
The Style of Laura Jane me differs again. My blog exposes profound meaning; I pour my heart like an Italian chef drizzling olive oil. It dashes out on almost every post; a therapy blanket wrapping my pain in soothing realisations. I’d never sit with the closest people, and spend 20 minutes unravelling, casually declaring I have no self-respect and don’t feel good enough. I’d never be able to say it in the same way.
Arranging more meet-ups
I don’t know if I feel any different towards Neeta, having met in person. Maybe that’s because I’ve counted her as a friend for a couple of years already. I suppose meeting reinstated our chats mean something. We’re lucky in some sense – not every online friend can transition. Statistically, you’re bound to meet someone and realise the few interests you share, aren’t enough to form good days out together.
Not forgetting, most online communication involves people living in opposite sides of the world. Arranging an encounter involving a plane trip puts extreme pressure on anticipation. I’d like to think however, that a close blog or Instagram friend travelling to London wonders at least, about seeing me during their stay.
In my time of knowing Neeta, she’s developed her career beautifully; publishing a mini series of books. Her book My Mini-Micro Mindset Manual is stocked in a number of shops such as WHSmith’s, Waterstones and Foyles. I recommend purchasing as a quick pick-me-up boost to keep you feeling good.