This article was published on January 23rd, 2021
2020 was a struggle for everyone. COVID-19 wreaked havoc worldwide, decimating jobs, incomes, disrupting social lives and locking people indoors.
2021 has started off in the same circumstances. It feels like we jumped from the frying pan smack into the fire. First, the new virus strains. From the UK variant, the South African, and now the Brazilian mutation. These new strains seem more virulent and perhaps even deadlier than the original. Consider them COVID 2.0.
Second, vaccine distribution is a complete mess, from the short supplies to the disorganized efforts and logistical nightmares in getting the vaccine to the right people. At this rate, you’ll be lucky to get your shot before summer. A variant that doesn’t respond to any of the vaccines may have emerged by then.
It feels like a game of whack-a-mole. Fix one problem, another arises. And those are only the COVID-19 related ones. Economic turmoil continues with soaring unemployment, evictions, and stupid politics that get us nowhere.
In the midst of all these, our mental states have taken a beating. A huge one. Stress levels are up, so are anxiety, anger and frustration. People have become pandemic-fatigued. Tired of staying at home, working from home, foregoing all the fun activities we enjoyed before COVID.
If this is the new normal. It sucks. And with no signs of letting up any time soon, taking care of yourself and your friends becomes a top priority.
Normalize checking on your friends
The times are difficult for everyone. Each of us has been affected by the pandemic in one way or another. Some have contracted the virus; others have lost their lives or loved ones. To add insult to injury, we can no longer share and offer comfort – at least not face to face. But we can be there for one another.
Now more than ever, check on your friends and do so regularly. Check on them even when they don’t immediately respond to you. They may be going through sh*t you cannot even begin to fathom. Loneliness has taken hold in most people compounding the isolation felt by most queer people even before the pandemic.
In these strange times of social distancing, here’s how you can start checking on your friends, especially those you haven’t heard from in a while.
Keeping up with your friends and loved ones
Hit them up on social media
First port of call: Social media. While you’re doom scrolling and checking Elon Musk’s latest net worth figures, check on your friends. DM them, comment on their posts, leave a comment on their Instagram
It doesn’t have to be anything super serious. In checking on people, it’s the thought that counts more often than not. Message them something kind, start a conversation and keep it alive by touching base regularly.
Call and text
When’s the last time you called your friends? From the guys you partied and hanged out with, the hookups that became friends, or your favourite bartender before the pandemic.
Pick up the phone and call them, well, or text. Millennials seem to have a phobia with phone calls even though they convey deeper emotions than text messages.
Exchange recipes and Netflix shows to watch
You might be wondering, what in Jojo Siwa’s precious name would we be discussing with my friends right now? Heck, we haven’t seen them in months, or even a year plus!
A lot. Use your contact time to catch up on what has been happening in your lives—their highlights, accomplishments, and challenges. Or even exchange your favourite quarantine recipes, epic shows you’ve watched on Netflix, books etc.
Reminisce on memories
The good old days when you could assemble at clubs and party all night, hopping from place to place. Your circuit queen parties, Pride marches and events. Drinking sprees, smashing sprees, the tours you have taken together around the world.
So much to look back at and celebrate the good old times. Memories, especially shared ones, have a way of reminding us that it gets better eventually. We may be going through a tough patch, but the light will shine again and usher in even better experiences. Hopefully.
Catch up on a walk
Organize a walk together in the open outdoors. You can walk and talk while maintaining social distance. Plus, research indicates that walks are safe if you observe all the health guidelines.
Catching up in person beats doing so over Zoom or social media.
Set up virtual brunch or events
You don’t have to eat or drink alone while you quarantine at home or during city-wide lockdowns. Hop onto the internet and organize virtual brunch, cookouts, dance-offs and events via Zoom.
Bring your group of friends together for a night of virtual cocktails as you catch up on the events in each of your lives. Do not gather together in person.
Make plans to meet when it’s safe.
Finally, make plans to meet and party when it’s safe to do so again. Research shows that anticipation, especially for fun things and activities, improves your moods and makes you happier now. If you’ve ever planned a trip, then you know the feeling.
We’re all in this together. Let’s keep in touch with one another and ensure no one gets left behind.