I definitely took my social life for granted before March 14th, when the city of Brussels went into lockdown. Back then, I would have undoubtedly stated that I would return to campus for the Fall for my senior year, and that it would all be fine and dandy.. And unchanged. Covid-19 would've just been a bizarre fever dream.
Instead, it's almost November, it has once again gotten as cold as it was back in March, and it feels like I have forgotten what socializing is.
I never imagined that my closest friends (and when I say 'closest', I don't mean that lightly) would one day block me on social media. I know it sounds trivial, but that's exactly what they did. There was little to no attempt to talk things out from their part, and I couldn't help but feel immensely unwanted… So I left it at that.
We had differing views on what is and isn't acceptable in a pandemic. I am here and they are there, and that's okay. But I was naive to think that they would have wanted to have such an important conversation.
All you need to know is that I really, really, really, miss my normal life. I miss not feeling intense amounts of anxiety in the rare occasion that I do see a friend in person. I wish I didn't have to think twice about putting on lipstick. I wish I could see my boyfriend whenever I wanted.
And you know what? I don't know about you, but I want my life back. Which is why, early in August, I announced on my social media that I would have no tolerance to those that refused to abide by health mandates. Was it an impulsive message, fueled by deep frustration? Probably. Did I mean what I said? Absolutely. Especially if you're plastering it all over Instagram (which, by the way, extremely poor choice, but that's a topic for another day).
So that's that. I made my choice and they made theirs, and I will stand by mine. Not because I don't care about their friendships, I did and I still do. But I must make peace with myself. So here's a few ways I'm learning to be okay with one of the million changes the 2020 pandemic has brought to our lives.
- "Some stay with you the whole ride, others get off at certain stations…"
That's the way my dad described friendships to me when I called him crying the first time one of my friends cut me off. His voice was calm, and I half expected him to berate me for being "needy". But distance had made him soft.
He told me life is a long train-ride, and the relationships you forge are with other passengers on the train. Some stay with you the whole ride, others get off at certain stops, and, who knows, maybe those will get on again in another, distant station.
Some things, like friendships, are simply temporary, and that's okay. People come in and out of our lives for reasons unknown to us and often leave in the very same, mysterious manner they showed up in the first place…
2. Say Thank You
This is an important one. The process of letting go must include gratitude in order to properly make way for whatever else life has for you. I personally feel extensive amounts of gratefulness towards the friends that parted ways from me. They made my college years as happy as could be and showered me with support and love when I needed it most. So whenever you have the chance, vocalize your gratitude. You don't have to tell them directly, but simply acknowledge the feeling. It will feel good, I promise.
3. Get Your Mind Off of It
Finally, don't think about it too much. Friend break-ups are painful and difficult, but one must adjust to new realities. Focus on your schoolwork, get a manicure, walk your dog, talk to a sibling, parent or other friend, or... write an article. The present is a good moment to start healing, and part of making peace with our now demands a willingness to move forward. Acknowledge that this too shall pass, and that it takes courage to take the necessary steps in order to thank, forgive, and move on to better, brighter days.