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May 1, 2020

Connection during quarantine

Has delirium set in yet? The first few days were scary but also had a halcyon quality to me…. sitting around all day in my pajamas, my girls snuggled close to me while they did their math workbooks; long lazy spring afternoons doing cartwheels in the grass. But behind it was a fear- a fear of sickness, a fear for our economy, a fear for those on the front lines and those sick and dying alone in our hospitals. And now, a month in, much of it is starting to feel like the new normal. The fear has dulled; the novelty of us all being home together has worn off; the kids are sick of home school; we are bored of Netflix and pizza. So now what?

I believe for many this time has become a time of reckoning- a time of questioning what is working in our lives and what is not; there has been time and space for reflection. And many are realizing the importance of human connection in our own lives. We are alone, we are isolated, we are stir-crazy, we are lonely…. Yes, we have found creative ways to connect online, through zoom happy hours, house party games, virtual church, etc. But short of holding socially distanced cocktail parties in our backyards, how can we form new and more meaningful connections during this time when we are craving and needing it so badly?

First, take stock: Which friendships are important enough to you that you are connecting virtually during this time? If you have relationships that are important to you, and you are not connecting virtually, why not? If possible, make that a priority. Do you have relationships that you realize that are not that healthy or meaningful- that you simply are avoiding those connections? If so, explore that. Do you want to resume those relationships post-quarantine?

Second, once you have established which relationships you want to keep and are maintaining, is that sufficient? Do you have a breadth and depth of relationships that are meeting your needs for connection? We tend to get different needs met from different friends- the fun friend, the intellectual friend, the parent friend, the reader friend, the spiritual friend, etc. Is there an area of your life where you would like to meet someone new? Is your current stable of relationships people that you can be yourself with- open, honest and raw? If you are not yourself with them, is that on them or you? Studies show that up to 47% of adults in the United States are lonely. If you are one of them, you are not alone.

Third, if you are lonely, do you know why? Is it that you haven’t prioritized finding and maintaining relationships? Is it that you have a hard time forming authentic and real relationships? Is it that you haven’t made the time? Maybe it is a mix of the above. Once you have figured out why, it’s time to evaluate what you can do during this time of quarantine to set yourself up to have a richer social life now and when we emerge. If you haven’t known how to meet people, you are in the right place. If you don’t know how to form meaningful connections, take some time to learn yourself and how you relate to others (I recommend the enneagram as a good place to start if you are interested in exploring this). If you haven’t made the time, now is the perfect opportunity to prioritize what is important to you and how you can make time in your schedule for pursuing those things.

Now more than ever, we need our people. As we evolve and grow, we are constantly expanding and re-arranging our social circles to surround ourselves with those that feel like our tribe. Take a moment of reflection during this time to evaluate your relationships and ensure that you are living a rich, full life, empowered by meaningful connections.

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