Smiley’s next suggestion for approaching friendships this summer is to give others what he calls a pandemic pass if communication has been sparse during the last year. “We may not have been the best at staying in touch, and that’s okay. We can all give each other a pass and look at this as an opportunity for a friendship reset.”
“Reemerging hasn’t been as exciting as I expected it to be. Each interaction is loaded with this newfound nervousness.”
I obviously left my pandemic passes at home when I went to dinner with my friends. Because we had navigated transitions before, like graduating from college and living in different cities, I expected that we would essentially pick up exactly where we’d left off more than a year earlier. But I hadn’t factored in the larger impact COVID had on our collective dynamic.
Smiley says that simple, direct communication can lead to a better outcome when maneuvering awkward situations with friends. In other words, I could have talked a little bit less about TikTok and a little bit more about how much I’d missed connecting with my (non-internet) friends and asked them questions.
Marissa has also been struggling to accept her new social bandwidth. “Reemerging hasn’t been as exciting as I expected it to be. Each interaction is loaded with this newfound nervousness.”
To combat social anxiety, Smiley recommends doing a “reflection exercise” prior to seeing a friend. To start, choose a restorative activity like meditating, sitting with a cup of coffee, or journaling. Then reflect on how you met this person, moments of joy you’ve shared, and a few things you appreciate about them. “Taking stock of the friendship can help you come from a place of celebration when you’re together.”
We may be out of practice in the art of small talk, but this collective reboot is also an opportunity to reach out to our people and rekindle relationships.
And then there’s the hugging issue. To go in for it or not to go in for it? At this point it’s probably safe to assume your closest friends have been vaccinated, but if you haven’t talked about it, do you ask? For Cara, 30, from New York, it’s a question she feels strange about: “It’s like you’re questioning someone’s values.”
It’s comforting to keep in mind that there’s no one right way to reemerge from a pandemic, especially when it comes to navigating nuanced social dynamics. But it’s also not too late to reprioritize close relationships that haven’t been tended to for a long period of time. If you’re looking to put friendship at the center of your life, Smiley emphasizes focusing on depth, not width. “We live in a world that’s all about having more. But a lot of the …….