I grew close to people I had never before connected with because of my hectic pre-pandemic life. I had enriching conversations with my neighbour who I will forever call my ‘pandemic survival buddy’. Together, we shared long evening walks, a lot of cake and countless chocolate exchanges. I returned to old, estranged friendships as we found creative ways to come together, even with different time zones. Whether we wanted it or not, time was finally something we had in abundance, and it gave us the opportunity to talk and catch up. Having spent most parts my life in different countries for various reasons, it became apparent how dispersed my friendship circles were. More effort was required to maintain them, but their importance was never clearer to me than it was mid-pandemic when the chips were down.
I was reminded that friendship and compassion can often come in unexpected forms and each need to be appreciated and openly received. My year of grief slowly transformed into an important life lesson of gratitude. Friendships don’t always come from the places you expect, but it was the least expected people who were ready to support and uplift me this year.
Our understanding of friendship is ever evolving but I hope that learning to be a better friend will become an important aspect of our post-pandemic life. Perhaps it will involve finding creative ways to connect with those that are far from us, or just genuinely staying present for the those we love even if it is just for a few minutes. Perhaps it’s making time to talk to our neighbour. Perhaps it’s about realising that we don’t need a huge friendship circle, just a few really strong social connections that will see us through the hardest of times. Maya Angelou’s poem Alone sums it up best:
“I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
Can make it out here alone.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar UK