One Small Thing – Talk to Your Friends
One Small Thing is a series where we write stuff we need to hear right now about small wins, and which you might find useful too. You can find the rest of the series here.
For some people reading this, it’s going to seem obvious – talk to your friends even though there is a pandemic going on.
But it wasn’t obvious to me. It wasn’t obvious to some of my friends, and when I actually did it, it made such a difference to my day to day life.
Like many people, one of my early priorities in lockdown was sorting out some sort of way for my children to still have time with their friends. This took the first few weeks to settle into something mostly workable. It’s still a jumble of different technologies, depending on the friends group. It still means checking that things are fully charged, or plugged in, set to the right account, that we turn up on time because that free zoom call is only for 40 minutes.
Add in all the other things that need to be done, and take longer to be done, and some how I came to the decision that I would just talk to my friends when the pandemic is over. Getting in touch just seemed like too much. I knew they were all busy too, and didn’t want to be a bother. I wasn’t sure how to fit in talking to them on top of everything else.
With friends who live further away and who I chat to on the phone normally, it was a bit easier to continue something resembling our usual conversations, but with friends I normally see in person it was particularly hard. These are the people I usually chat to while our kids hang out and play. They are the people whose kids come play at our house, and who my kids go visit. But we couldn’t do any of that so we had to reinvent everything. And that felt too hard. I could find ways for the kids to talk to each other, and that’s where I stopped.
Some how I could hold these parallel beliefs in my heart – the pandemic is not going anywhere soon. It’s not going to be over tomorrow. It might not be over for a year. And I will just catch up with my friends when it’s over and that is easier to do. They both felt true.
And it made me so miserable. I missed them so much. I worried I was being a bad friend (but I also didn’t want to hassle them because that felt like bad friend behaviour too.)
What changed? I went through a period of time not feeling able to talk to anyone outside of the people I actually live with. Then I told someone what was going on with me, and they told me that my friends would understand, and to be honest it was that that made me fully realise that I needed to reach out to my friends even though it’s hard.
How to talk to your friends when you haven’t been talking to them much:
Tell them that you miss them and that you would like to talk to them.
Work out what methods of communication work best for you, and work best for your friend. (I have friends who really prefer seeing someone in person, and friends who want to only talk on the phone without video, and friends who like video calls. I think I need to write down who prefers what because I can’t hold that all in my head right now.)
Find a part of the day that is quiet(ish) for both of you if possible. You don’t need to talk to them for very long.
Maybe document who you spoke to and when, because the weeks keep coming and it’s easy to lose touch again. Or make a date in the diary to talk again at the end of your conversation. (All of this stuff sounds so silly even as I write it down, and yet, it also all feels necessary. Pandemic life.)
Don’t try to talk to everyone all at once. Spread it out. Maybe only speak to one or two people a week if everything feels too much. (I am finding my ability to ‘people’ has really diminished and I run out of energy for it pretty quickly. I need to spread that stuff out.)
Remember – you are doing what you can do.