I'm not sure about anyone else, but I could go the rest of my life without having a single social Zoom call again.
After the enforced self-isolation panic settled, came the “I actually quite enjoy this” moment (me), and then the “Let’s have a zoom wine soon” times (also me). Among a myriad of rollercoaster emotions, some highs and some very low low’s, what has followed, is the inevitable burnout of hanging with your pals via a poorly connected video chat - while likely talking about the same thing: how crazy and unbelievable these times are, and how the hell we all are doing. Of course, peppered with a few too-close-to-home jokes about alcoholism.
Now that restrictions are gingerly easing, I can ever so slightly see the light at the end of the tunnel. That is, seeing irl emotion across my friends' faces again. As long as we aren’t shrouded in a second coronavirus wave, and once again confined to connection via smartphones.
Our recent magazine issue is all about connection, and how much we needed it in this deeply fractured time.
But is anyone else having trouble connecting?
It feels as though there is this unspoken pressure to connect via ‘checking in’ with everyone at all times - which is of course necessary to show loved ones you’re prepared to hold space and support. But really, I want to pull the wool over my eyes and pretend I’m not spiralling at least once a day.
The ways in which we navigate this time as individuals is about as nuanced as it’s going to get. Our key support systems are being ripped away, along with the very elements of life that we use to identify ourselves with: our jobs and communities.
A quote I saw on Instagram the other day went something along the lines of “when this is all over, we will all know who our real friends are, the ones who checked in.” While I understand this sentiment, that of understanding who and what is important - and especially who might not be in your circle for the right reasons - I’d like to remind whoever wrote this quote that we are living through a literal pandemic, the absolute most dire of times.
If your pals aren’t capable of jumping on a social zoom for maybe the tenth time that week, afford them a little understanding.
We are all moving through this in ways we may not wish to disclose, and not being ok is absolutely ok.
As is doing exactly what you need to do to remain sane, which sometimes involves taking a step back from chaotic, paragraph long texts and having to explain to your friends that this is not a good time for you.
Personally, I have done a lot of apologising for being a ‘bad friend’ through this, because my capacity to catch up feels at an all-time low. The most connection I have found in moments like these are with the people who meet these needs with understanding and grace, absolving me of guilt that I’m not interacting with them. And then also for those who are up for low-maintenance banter when it feels good.
I understand that this honestly could be likened to the behaviour of a fuckboy. I know I would usually categorise people who behave like this as a fuckboy or a fair weather friend. But, we are living in extraordinary circumstances. If you are a good friend 365 days of most years and need a few months off while we navigate this shambolic time, that’s ok with me, and should be with your loved ones.
Perhaps instead of alcohol fuelled, poorly connected Zoom calls where half the participants aren’t acquainted, explore fostering connection in other ways that might ease some of the anxiety we are all feeling. A group chat with my mum and two best friends where we all watch Masterchef together and have a running commentary on each episode every night has brought a great sense of escapism and unrelated joy. As has having a quiet cup of tea with a friend or sharing a meal in the sun with a family member.
Connection as we have known it feels as though it has been thrown out the window, leaving a hole in its wake that hopefully, can only be filled with a deeper sense of the word.
In the interim, afford yourself the kindness and patience to steer through this ever-changing landscape to meet your needs adequately, and if you can’t connect with anyone else, what better time to get to know yourself?