I am incredibly social, so social distancing has been really hard for me. I am sure that many of us in college are struggling with not seeing our friends like we are used to. In this pandemic, we are forced to come up with some creative ways to stay in touch with each other. However, it’s made me think about the importance of relationships, and what communicating with each other can do for our feelings. I’ve found this situation to be isolating, and I feel like I’m definitely suffering emotionally because of it. I’m unsure how to deal with these feelings when I can’t engage with my friends like I’m used to
I asked my friend from high school, Shaun, who goes to Temple University, how he’s working on keeping in touch. He says that using things like Zoom and Facetime are particularly important. “I feel like it’s really working because it’s making it into an event.” As an example, he and his boyfriend will “pick a movie we haven’t seen and set a date and time to watch it together.” He’s found that making specific plans and seeing your friends’ faces makes it a “big deal, even if Facetime isn’t usually a big deal on a regular day.”
There is another thing greatly affecting the way we’re spending time together recently as well: the topic of the pandemic itself. It’s such a scary thing that no one feels like they have a handle on, and while it’s hard to talk about, it’s impossible to avoid.
“I find myself desperate to avoid it,” Shaun told me, “It’s complex because you don’t want to harp on it, but it’s weird if someone isn’t talking about it because it’s a big deal.”
Although we both feel that talking about the pandemic is uncomfortable and unavoidable, I was determined to find a way to feel better. I asked Shaun if he felt like not talking about it would help, and he said, “It’s almost essential that we are relying on each other. I definitely can’t do it alone. I’ve found myself reaching into my personal relationships to try to get through it.” I agree that, although it might not be fun to talk about, there is a real benefit that comes from talking to other people about it. I think we should stop trying to avoid it, and make sure we’re working through these complex emotions with other people.
This pandemic has brought intense feelings of isolation, and they’re not easy to deal with. However, it has proven that we need each other now more than ever. We need to dive deeper into our personal relationships and create open conversations about our feelings. No one knows what to do or how to feel, so we can’t push anything aside. Talking to each other will always help, and now we are forced to make a real effort to keep in touch.
Although scary, the pandemic offers us a way to form deeper connections by helping each other as best we can. Shaun feels that he is finding the people who are always going to be there for him. “It’s making me appreciate some friends more because I know that they value the time they spend with me.” Any time spent together is valuable, even if it is through a screen. Until we can hug each other again, make sure you and your friends are feeling supported.
Hannah Barras is a third-year communications major and journalism minor. firstname.lastname@example.org