Why Did It Take a Pandemic For Me to Be a Better Friend?

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I always considered myself a good friend. I’m there when my friends need me, I love to buy them presents, and I try to share any of my good fortunes with them. My list of close friends is small, but they’re all I need, and I truly believed I was a top-notch friend – until we entered a pandemic and I realized I hadn’t been doing enough.

I live in New York and quite literally have close friends all over the world. I’ve lived in four different states, which means I have best friends from each part of my life – back home, school, and both ends of the US – as well as internet friends I’ve collected over the years. I essentially put my friends in a couple different buckets: those I talk to daily or almost daily, those who are local and see frequently, those I catch up with every so often, and those who I know are still my close friends even though we barely talk.

As I started texting and calling my friends, I realized how long it had been since I did that. It’s been so long.

For years this has been my approach, and for years it’s worked for all of us, I assumed. The beauty of the friends in the last category, whom I don’t speak to often, is that I’ve known all of them for more than two decades and know we don’t need to talk all the time to stay close. But the thing I just realized is that there’s literally no reason for us to not speak more often. Yes, we’re all busy, but too busy for a text every now and then to check in? As soon as we started going into lockdown over COVID-19, one of my friends in this category texted me and suggested we FaceTime to catch up. I realized we hadn’t spoken in nearly a year. An entire year! We’ve been friends since we were 10 years old. I know she’ll be my friend until we’re old and gray, but it took a global health crisis for me to realize I should have been keeping in touch with her better.

Where it really hit me the most that I should keep in better touch with people was when I realized I had a whole slew of friends who didn’t reach out to me either as the pandemic was gaining speed. We were so used to our normal routine of letting days, weeks, months go by without talking that this unusual event didn’t even change that. And that didn’t sit right with me.

As I started texting and calling my friends, I realized how long it had been since I did that. It’s been so long. Before this, I couldn’t tell you the last time I talked to my best friend on the phone. My best friend of 15 years!

I hate that it took the threat of losing my people for me to get my ass in gear and be a better friend. But I suppose when it comes to friendship, it was a little bit of the wake-up call I needed. My friends are so important to me, and I absolutely know I can carve out more time to be more present in their lives. I’m trying really hard to be the friend I always thought I was, and truly be the friend my best friends deserve.

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