Getting by with a little help from your friends

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Mairi Hughes

AS LIFE slowly seems to be moving back towards some sort of normality, I am taking a moment to make a mental note of all the things I have had the time to be grateful for during lockdown. The list is long, however I am afraid I will lose this gratitude when life, once again, becomes too busy with distractions to leave any time for contemplation.

The first thing I am grateful for is that time for contemplation. I am incredibly lucky to be in a position where lockdown has meant I have had more free time than usual. This has meant more spare time to reflect on the things that ordinarily make up my life—my work, who I spend my time with, what I spend my time doing, and so forth.

This time for contemplation has allowed me to evaluate what is really important, and what is really necessary to be content.

While I ordinarily spend weekends meeting pals to eat and drink, shop and spend money on a whole host of non-necessities, I haven’t missed this half as much as I expected. In fact I now often find myself beginning my working week—from home—on a Monday feeling far more refreshed after a weekend of relaxing.

But while I may not have missed the material things so much, I have missed my friends a huge amount. There have been FaceTimes aplenty, and while this is not the same as quality time spent together in person, it has made me appreciate my friends so much more. The anxiety that often arose from being cooped up inside made me need my friends more than ever. But I didn’t need to meet them for an overpriced coffee or an elaborate cocktail, I just needed to chat.

Of course I missed the hugs and the time spent in each other’s company. However with the only option being a FaceTime or phone call, there wasn’t the distraction of a noisy pub or pressure to leave the restaurant in time for the next table booking, no other activity to preoccupy ourselves, just pure therapeutic chat.

This made me realise what great friends I have. When there wasn’t much fun to be had, but we just needed to share our life crises, make each other laugh or remind each other we weren’t alone in our worries and anxieties, it was clear who really cared.

There were some friends I knew I could rely on. There were also some friends who I wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to see regularly, but was pleasantly surprised by how often I was able to confide in them via a phone call we wouldn’t normally have had time for.

This companionship was perhaps the most important thing in my life during a time of such great uncertainty. I know that friendship is something I ordinarily take for granted, and I am so glad I have had this moment of contemplation to note how grateful I am for good friends. These friends proved to be what was really important when so many things which make up the fabric of life were suddenly stripped away.

As we are now able to spend time with our loved ones in person once again, I have no doubt I will meet my pals at a restaurant or a pub when we can, but I have realised this is not really important. All I need from these friendships is to know they are there when I need them, whether or not there are cocktails or shopping involved. Knowing that I have truly good friends is all I really need to be content.

Mairi Hughes is a Journalist and Creative Writer

PIC: ANNA SHVETS

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