Writing Challenge Day 18: Finding Friendship

“Strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet.” While horrific to some, this is a personal catchphrase. I believe the world is filled with so many wonderful, unique individuals to meet. And think of the variety of places you could meet them! At a coffee shop, in an airport lounge, by the snack bar at a coworker’s housewarming, or in the park down the street from a new dance studio.

That is—until the pandemic began.

In this new existence, I began cultivating established relationships through Zoom hangouts and FaceTime calls. But meeting a new friend? That notion was placed in a box and sealed shut until 2022—right next to “hugs” and “blowing out birthday candles.”

So, I was surprised to discover that this globally shared experience did foster new connections in my life. The game of “We’re Not Really Strangers” that deepened my friendship with an acquaintance after we exchanged personal anecdotes (the game’s pièce de résistance). The Antakshari circle birthed by Instagram, spanning over six different time zones and professionals in the music industry. The neighbors I never noticed before, but now to whom I wave enthusiastically on my daily walks.

I even went a step deeper and finally, with clear eyes, examined the friendship I had with myself. Being kind to myself when I made mistakes. Delving more time and space into what interested me. Taking a giant pause as a reset to sing “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” to the mirror (okay, maybe not that last one literally…but I had to sneak Disney in somehow).

I’d love to know—how have you found friendship—with yourself, or others—in these times? Were you able to strengthen an existing relationship, or reconnect with an old friend? Did you meet someone new? Let us know in the comments!

Anonymous
  • One of the neat this about the situation has been I've actually met most of my neighbors (I live in an area secluded between two busy roads). It's only been 18 months since I moved here, but during my walks I was able to see and meet them, their kids and dogs. Everyone is always concerned about how the other person is doing and we check up on each other. It's been nice, and I feel at home.

  • I started a new job this year, and it has been a challenge making new friends among my new colleagues as I haven't been able to hang out in person. Our regular virtual happy hour helps out tons, to be sure. In ordinary times, despite working from home, I would have attended in person happy hours and events, visited the office multiple times, etc. to help build those relationships. I am lucky that I already had relationships with a few of my colleagues through my previous THWACK MVP and partner adventures. Outside of that, I worked hard to maintain my closeness with my family and a few friends. It definitely has been a challenge as I am normally not the person that regularly drives the social activity - like I will go and have a good time, but I am not usually the one getting everyone together. My brother is what I like to call the social glue in most of my relationships. He is very much an extroverted person (so this year has been challenging for him in that respect) and he will last minute throw together game nights, hang outs, bonfires, whatever and we all go like flies to honey. Needless to say, that hasn't really happened this year so I think all of our social meters are fairly empty. We still get together virtually for online games and probably always will. 

  • I do not think I am the friendliest person.   I don't even know my neighbors.   I can not say its due to Covid.   I am just a relatively quiet, keep to myself person.   No not the same as thinking the world is out to get me with some huge conspiracy theory.   I just like keeping to myself.   My friends are dear to me and many of them are not close to me physically.   I am blessed to have my wonderful family around.   

    I do not put a lot of stock in online friends as there is something missing.   With SolarWInds for example, we have opportunities or did, to get together and meet in person at a SWUG and other events.  Other social media platforms, unless you are part of some group, say, Jeeps, pets, or something of the like, that actually meet up, how can you ever build a friendship.   this social engineered realm of finding strangers, I would argue are not really friends but familiar strangers.   

  • Friends are the family we choose ourselves.

  • I can relate. I love being with others and having shared experiences. My wife and I seem to make friends where ever we have traveled across the globe.

    My wife says I got this behavior from my Dad. We have this ability to make folks feel comfortable. We establish a good rapport very quickly. That is not to say they all become close friends. That rarely happens, but in normal life I know a lot of people on a first name basis and will strike up a descent conversation. But those are mostly in conversations that have a purpose. It is a situation that warrants communication. What I find very difficult is to strike up a conversation just because I want to get to know a person more. It does make me appear as standoffish. My reality is that I don't want to intrude, I don't want to disrupt whatever it is that is going on with that other person. Which if you ever meet me would seem like a great contradiction. I have no problem standing in front of a crowd, I get nervous doing presentations - but that is normal, and I do not hesitate for a moment to be myself.

    I think it stems from a level of comfort I developed as a child in be perfectly fine by myself. I am okay with me. But I always welcome new friends. Perhaps you would like to come and play some Bocce Ball?

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