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12.02.2021- On Being A Better Friend to Myself

Without question, the pandemic has shifted so much of the world which we used to know. An enforced period of staying at home is something which has inevitably had both high points and low ones- although more of the latter lately, am I right? It’s difficult to fathom that this has been the situation for almost an entire year now, and as much as I hate the expression ‘new normal’, it looks like we’ll be living this way for a little while yet. 

With so much of life in flux, I suppose it’s only natural that the balance of friendships in this time has changed too. Interacting predominantly through a screen or WhatsApp chat is never not going to be a poor replacement for seeing friends in the flesh, and I suppose that during lockdown three it would be almost inevitable that our socially distanced status quo would have an impact on those everyday relationships. I’ve gone from seeing most of my friends once a week to once a year (even writing that feels weird), and as I think is the case for everyone, it’s those little interactions which I miss the well as hugs! 

There’s something about the art of saying nothing, of pure simple companionship which we’ve all missed out on over the last year or so. Sitting next to your mate on the bus. Waiting for them at the station. The nonsense chat which flows so freely in person but which seems ridiculous when you have to take the time to type it out, alongside relevant emojis. Economy of expression has become the default for so many of interactions lately, and I know that I’m guilty of being a lot less forthcoming in text chats than I was in a past existence- I suppose because I really don’t feel like I have a huge amount to say...certainly nothing to update in terms of my day to day routine! 

Whereas in the past, I would have berated myself for being a bit too distant from people (and apologised profusely for the fact), the last year or so has really helped me to let go of this sense of guilt. Friendships, like any relationships are two way streets, and I've done more than my fair share of heavy lifting in the past- but no more. I think the fact that so many of us are experiencing the same thing at the same time has created a new sort of emotional shorthand- an unwritten, unspoken understanding that someone being a bit absent from the group chat is totally fine. In a strange way, we've all had to get a bit better at putting ourselves first, if only for sheer self-preservation. This, I suppose has helped me to become a better friend to myself and, after 31 years, it's about time. Maybe a small positive to take away from this year-long socially distanced existence. 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)


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