Sometimes I feel like a terrible friend.

Friendship has always been a touchy topic for me, unpleasant and enticing all at the same time. Unpleasant because I’m forced to face to the fact that making friends doesn’t come easy and enticing because…oh come on, we all want those steadfast friendships. The kind of friend that stick closer than a brother as in Proverbs 18:24. Someone to inconvenience when things are hard, someone to party with when things are great and someone to just be with when all is calm.

It’s easy to feel like the world’s bestest friend when you are giving speeches at their functions and organising surprise parties and events, turning up unexpectedly to just check up on them and making plans to get together soon – like tomorrow soon. Or when you are holding their hand as they go through a gruelling time and cooking their meals when they can’t get out of bed. Or just simply giving your shoulder for them to cry on.

When the thought of seeing each other in person is not inconceivable or inconvenient!

Bet this is the message you’ve all received on repeat.

And we don’t want to have those shallow friendships that must be dependent on proximity and visibility. Put the saying out of sight, out of mind to shame! We want those that are not threatened by a few days of silence and not shaken by a long period of absence. The ones that realise that there might be things you are going through and need to keep a distance…even when it is required by government.

It has been assumed that this quarantine is an introvert’s heaven. I thought the same for a while. No one to call you out to just hang out out of the comfort of your home, no social responsibility that requires you to chat when you would rather curl up with a book and most importantly no one to drop in uninvited!

Till it started exposing loops in friendships and acquaintances for most.

I recently read a blog post about how people started out the lockdown sure they’d make it through with all the online tools; group chats and facetime calls. Only for it to trickle down to the place where they are considering switching off their phones. That can be explained as too much too soon. Trying not to be disconnected for so long, they all jumped on every available avenue to keep up with each other till it started to smother the joy of keeping in touch.

Despite all the leaps technology has taken (and we are most grateful for them), nothing can adequately replace in-person meetings. Even the introvert usually handles their isolation because they know when they need to meet the rest of the world (and need they shall), they can simply walk out but now that option has also been relegated.

But that’s not truly what spurred this line of thinking.

I have reduced the amount of time I spend on social media. I started this about two weeks before the lockdown was established and I’ve somehow continued it through.

This is the part that makes me feel like a bad friend…that in this time where we all need to be as present as possible for each other, I’m choosing to remain a little hard to reach. It’s not permanent, just been trying to get my head in a good space where I’m not bombarded by the rest of the world.

The peace and calm I’ve experienced with being just me and only getting the updates I really need has made me a little reluctant to give it up. I’ve had time without that nagging thought that they all have better lives and more fun than I do that comes from keeping up with everyone on social media. Also, I honestly thought I would take the time, not caught up checking updates every two minutes, to do something productive.

While we are going through this time of uncertainty, most of us will have less time to wonder how our friends are fairing when we are also simply trying to find a way to stay afloat. Mentally, physically, emotionally and financially! These are unprecedented times.

So how do we go about being the friends we desire to be when we the most we can do for a friend’s birthday is make a little noise online? Or when they have a sick parent the most we can do is keep checking in every few hours till we start to think we are bugging them and give up! How do we properly distance ourselves when some social cues require us to be all up in someone’s faces?

The pains and reality of social distance. Pictures taken from Unsplash!

I wish I could say I have the answers; the 10 steps to surviving quarantine, or the introvert’s infallible guide to surviving the indoors, but I don’t. Sometimes, these suggestions don’t work for everyone so find what works for you.

But it’s always safest to follow the golden rule – treat others as you would like to be treated! Be the kind of friend you’d like to have in this kind of time.

Stay safe! And feel free to share how you are handling friendships in this time!

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