It’s no secret that COVID-19 and the lockdowns in Ireland have put a strain on friendships and relationships for many people. For months we have not been able to see our friends or family members without feeling somewhat anxious. The need to check in on your friends or reach out if you need to talk has become more important than ever. The jerking in and out of different restrictions has meant that making plans to see people is not only stressful, but there’s also a continuous feeling of uncertainty.
A chance to learn about myself
In my personal experience, I feel as though I have learned a lot about myself, my friendships, and how I’ve approached dealing with the restrictions. When there was talk of continued lockdowns, there was a part of me that felt this rush to try to see all the people I care about. We didn’t know how long the lockdown would be for and I didn’t want them to think I didn’t care if I saw each other at all. Of course, this was never going to work in anyone’s favour.
When lockdown finally fell into place I started to feel as if I couldn’t be without my phone. It’s the only way I could keep in contact with my friends or family. It became a very important possession to me. I noticed how much more often I scrolled through social media, trying to stay updated on what people were doing, and how much more often I texted my friends about things, big or small. The contact through technology and social media was off to a positive start. I had a way of still seeing my friends through things such as zoom calls and facetime, and we would talk about memories pre-covid and the memories we dreamed of making someday, post-COVID.
As the weeks of lockdown continued, slowly but surely the magic of technology began to wear off on me. I couldn’t help but notice that there were some friends I hadn’t talked to in weeks, conversations that had died out, or simply texts I had forgotten to reply to. I began to feel guilty. I tried to come up with some sort of reason as to why we hadn’t been speaking. I questioned if we had really been that good of friends in the first place. I wondered if I was the only one that noticed we hadn’t been speaking. A quiet thought in the back of my head kept wondering if I had been the one to always reach out. The more I began to spiral with my thoughts the more I began to feel not like myself.
Noticing my anxiety and worry
I had never been this anxious about texting before and contact so why now? Part of me thought this increased worry was due to the amount of time I was spending on my phone – if I wasn’t talking to my friends, I would feel a bit lost with my day. The other part of me forgot about the times we are living in today. I forgot about how normal it is to be anxious and worry during a pandemic, but it was how to handle it that I needed to work on.
I tried and tested different methods. I decided that spending some time away from my phone, and trying to ease the focus and importance I had placed on always having it with me, was the best one. It made me reevaluate how I had been feeling in my own space and the worries I had about my friendships. I noticed that it had been a while since I allowed myself to have some ‘me time’ and I had forgotten that others might have been in the same position. The restrictions and not being able to see each other had made me think that alone time would be the last thing that people would want when in reality, no matter what the conditions, we all need time to ourselves.
Space, trust, and understanding
Space, trust, and understanding are three things that I now remind myself of whenever I feel I’m getting anxious about my friendships. I remind myself that sometimes everyone needs their own space and that could be the reason behind a lack of contact. I remind myself to trust in the friendships I have and that if there was a problem, that there’s no shame in reaching out or asking if everything’s okay. Last but not least, I remind myself to try and be understanding. These are worrisome times and people might be experiencing different effects of the lockdowns, but that things will and can get better.