England is set to face more lockdown restrictions that mirrored where the country was in May. While education can remain in-person, many universities have already moved all their seminars online. With individuals only able to go outside with their household or one person from another household, chances for in-person socialisation look set to decrease dramatically.
This will be extremely demoralising. I’m lucky as I’m very happy with my own company for hours, days even, on end but even introverts need the company of others and time spent with different people. However, effective apps like Zoom, HouseParty, and Teams never quite replicate the in-person experience of communication.
Finding time, or even just checking in with people, is tricky even outside of a pandemic. As students move further through the first term, essay deadlines begin to pile up. We can feel like too many balls are being metaphorically juggled. This means friendships can be pushed to one side.
A message from someone you’ve not heard from in a while can be the highlight of someone’s day
It’s important not to worry about this. In an ideal world, friendships would involve constant communication and spending time together. The reality is far different. With cafes, pubs and restaurants closing for the next four weeks, places of hospitality won’t be available for those much-needed catch-ups.
There are many ways to be a friend. I sometimes only see close friends in person every so often as life gets in the way. Although, I try to always find time to message them on Facebook, catch-up and share moral support. Of course, it is not the same as reminiscing and putting the world to rights in a café, but it can provide a level of support someone needs. A message from someone you’ve not heard from in a while can be the highlight of someone’s day, not least in isolation.
The best way to ensure that friendships can remain constant is through structure. However, whether online or in-person, there will still be essays and exams to undertake, making a planned-out routine with friends more challenging to follow. Time should obviously be spent devoted to reading, researching and submitting answers, but we must also remember to take time to unwind – the ideal excuse to chat with a friend.
There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to keep in touch with them all
The difficulty of keeping in touch can also be apparent with friends from home. Though you may all be at university, everyone is likely to have a different experience. Connections will have been formed from primary and secondary school when you saw one another five days a week. Online, that is far less frequent and not the same. People shouldn’t be too hard on themselves for recognising that maintaining social connections is easier when you all spend time with one another.
Evolving friendships is also a staple part of life. There will be many people from our school days who we might have been friendly with at the time, but don’t speak to anymore. That is a part and parcel of living. Throughout the course of life, humans meet many people. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to keep in touch with them all.
We can only try our best. The priority is deciding who matters and investing time in them to ensure the friendship is maintained.
Checking in could be the difference between a friendship falling apart and remaining strong for the long term
The latest lockdown restrictions are going to be severely damaging for everyone in different ways. For those who get Covid-19, a tough road ahead is likely with the effective medication necessary. For those remaining inside, trying to find time between working and spending time relaxing is expected to be far trickier. If you are still commuting to campus, one of its benefits is the clear distinction between work and play.
Most importantly though, we will all be trying to keep in touch with others. This venture won’t be easy. However, what it will hopefully ensure is that those who are most isolated have someone to speak to virtually. Just something as simple as a quick message checking in could be the difference between a friendship falling apart and remaining strong for the long term.