When times are bad, friends are even more important

  • DanielleSack
At 23:47 on a Thursday night I logged onto Zoom. My best friend of 15 years, who I had just hung up with on a FaceTime call, did the same. In 30 seconds, we were allowed entry into an 18th birthday countdown call for a friend of ours from another school.
by DANI SACK | May 21, 2020

As my screen loaded up, I found myself desperately searching for more familiar faces. I counted at least five people I knew personally, and another 15 I had met briefly at parties, on camp, or at inter-school events.

Nevertheless, the anxiety I felt on entering that Zoom call was so similar to the feeling I experience when walking into a party, except without the usual pumping music and sickly sweet scent. The difference is that my anxiety quickly dissolved.

I soon had private messages coming through on my phone from fellow Zoom attendees along the lines of, “fancy seeing you here” or “I’ve missed you”. Those short messages led to catch-up conversations, some of which are still continuing. When I logged off that call at 00:15, it was with a smile and a realisation.

Seeing the happiness on my friend’s face as the clock struck 12 and we all erupted into a slightly delayed rendition of “Happy Birthday” filled me with warmth. Seeing the faces of friends I had failed to make plans with pre-lockdown, who I missed more than I imagined, made me grin until my cheeks hurt.

Amidst the pressure and stress of COVID-19, a birthday celebration created a brief moment of solace that was extended in WhatsApp messages and voice notes. That Zoom call made me appreciate the power of friendship, especially in difficult times like these. You don’t realise how much you need that catch-up chat or just seeing the other person’s face on your screen.

I didn’t know how much relief I’d feel from simply sharing stories about online classes or discussing the anticlimactic ending to a new series we had both happened to watch.

Friendship is important at the best of times, and its significance is highlighted at the worst of times, when you desperately need a friend or a (figurative) shoulder to cry on. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that somebody is there if you want to talk or just be distracted from the confusion. I’m so lucky to have so many people I can simply message or call if I want to.

One of my closest friends, who lives in Israel, is allowed to see people face to face again. I can hear simply in the way she writes a message or sounds in a voice note how much it has relieved the boredom and stress we’ve all become accustomed to.

Seeing my family friends on an early morning Shabbos walk, people I’d grown used to seeing weekly but now haven’t seen in months, energised me more than the exercise did.

Simply remembering that you’re not alone, that there are people who love, miss, and care for you, is enough to brighten anyone’s day.

I urge you to catch up with your friends, or just message someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. It does a world of good in a world gone mad.

Dani Sack is a Grade 12 pupil at Yeshiva College.

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