As I have written about many times, my college career was cut short due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. The friends that became family were stripped away suddenly, not knowing the next time that we would see each other. Four months later, the moment finally arrived where we all could come back together.
It is important to remember that connecting with our friends, even if we can’t be together at all times, that we can still lean on our friends to be there for us. Now, because all of us have been extra careful in terms of social distancing and quarantining, we were able to spend the week with each other. And as I reflect days after I return home, I’ve realized how important friends and other relationships are in an eventful moment such as this.
Friends make the world seem just a little bit normal in this time of chaos and unknown. They are one of the only known’s in the unknown. Times of normalcy are rare in this time so it's imperative to take advantage while you can. Even if only for a few days, those times where you can forget about everything wrong in the world, are the moments that you learn to treasure forever.
Author Lydia Denworth explains this in an interview with Today about how friends are a primitive part of our survival: “From an evolutionary perspective, we are supposed to be there to help each other get through the tough times and that is exactly what we haven’t really been able to do in a way...”
Sometimes the tough times could be helping out with a simple task… other times it could be a global pandemic. Either way, they are there through the good and the bad, to bring a light on even the darkest days. For those few days at the beach house, I felt like life was okay. My attention wasn’t directed towards the pandemic but rather the memories I could make before we go off on our separate paths unknown when we would see each other again.
Friends can help greatly with loneliness, and the past four months have been lonely for everyone. It’s easy to forget that our friends are here just a call or text away during Corona. They can bring you out of the loneliness, giving you hope for the world.
But most importantly, it makes us realize that we took our friendships for granted. Never before have we had our lives uprooted almost instantly. We didn’t know what we had and the pandemic is teaching us just that, reminding us how important our friendships are to our sanity and sense of security. Denworth explains how friendship “is as powerful and important as diet and exercise for your health so that physical connection affects all kinds of things, brain and heart health, stress responses, sleep, your risk of depression and even over time your risk of dying earlier. We don’t realize how much friends make an impact in our physical and mental lives that it almost hits us like a train when we are taken away from these sources of affection. And, reflecting on Denworth, this was one of the least stressful weeks that I have had in months.
And as this beach week with my friends ended, I realized that college is over, that we aren’t going back to school in the Fall, that I don’t know the next time we will all be together again as we all go on our own paths of life. Yet, that is not the end of our friendship. This was a reminder that no matter what earth-shattering event happens next, and I’m really hoping it’s not too earth-shattering, we will always be there for each other. The pandemic will end one day, but these friendships will last a lifetime.
So thank you. Thank you to my friends for becoming my family four years ago. Thank you for sticking by me through my weirdness. Thank you for letting me forget about the pandemic for just a few days to remember what matters most in the world.