Friendship And Physical Distancing

Introverts or extrovert, social interaction is a need for everyone. No one is liking the fact that physical distancing isn’t taking place on their terms.

Self Isolation, physical distancing and ‘Real Friends’

To give you a breakup: Some of my friends aren’t taking self-isolation very well. Some don’t seem to be minding it at all. And then there are those who, on the surface, seem to be taking it well, but in reality are carrying the heavy load of being ‘the strong friend’.

In April, a tweet by the handle @/tiamowry got viral, it read “During this pandemic, you’ll really see who your friends are. Who’s really checking up on you? Making sure you’re okay? Remember that when all this is over?”. It was deleted after the backlash, but the sheer number of likes, retweets and all the ‘yes omg, you’re right’ comments it received made it clear that a lot of us follow the same mentality that the tweet reflected. The mentality, in plain words, is being self-absorbed. Sure, all of us want to receive love and feel loved. We want constant reassurance from our friends and family that care about us.

However, to go ahead and suggest that a friend who is not constantly checking up on you isn’t a ‘real’ friend is parochial. This mentality implies that the pandemic is only affecting you and your mental health. It fails to acknowledge that it is also affecting everyone else, which includes your ‘real’ friends.

The last thing you should do is measure the strength of your friendships based on how often a friend is checking up on you as if they don’t have other things that could be worrying them or occupying their time during a pandemic.

Personally, I’ve been checking in on my friends, talking to them as much as I can. Doing as much listening as sharing. In no way am I doing this expecting everyone else to do the same for me. While saying this, it is also important that I mention the context- I’m in an extremely privileged position than most in this whole situation. For one, I have a roof over my head, three hot meals and not any financial burden to keep me worried about. I am someone who can be described as an ‘overly productive’ person during the pandemic. While on most day I like to be buried in work, but there are also days when everything starts to take a toll on me, on those days, sometimes I’m busy pretending to be strong for people even though I can hardly seem do anything for my own mental health. The other times I prioritise myself, something I learned the hard way.

Who SHOULD YOU CHECK UP ON?

There is no fixed answer to this question. It could be people with emotional/mental disorders, your current friends, old friends, new friends, family or even distant relatives. It is okay to do this as long as it doesn’t cost you your own peace of mind. You can not help anyone if you yourself are struggling. If you are over extending yourself it is okay to not check in with people you regularly check in with. You can keep yourself first without dissolving in guilt.

UNLEARNING

Like I mentioned before, I personally don’t take offence to whether or not a friend drops me a text or randomly video calls me. The pandemic isn’t just about me nor is it just about them. It is something that we are all collectively experiencing combined with our own personal struggles.

Take a quick moment to practice a more open and accommodating mindset.