Lockdown diary

How many close friends do you have in midlife?

Are you a ‘Johnny/Jennie no mates’ down at your local pub or do you sit at a table surrounded by a number of people whom you have known since your youth? Is there a gap in your friendship circle due to lockdown?

There is an interesting article in The Observer today looking at whether and how friendships have become more difficult to sustain in lockdown. There isn’t a midlife slant in the article but I have used it to ponder upon whether midlife friendships have been affected by lockdown. The interesting angle of midlife friendships is that many of these have some longevity. They may stretch way back to university/higher education days, other parents whom you met through nursery/school or, even childhood friends.

The midlife phase includes people accumulated through the decades. But have friendships which withstood the passage of time endured through lockdown without physical contact?

I, personally, seem to have lost touch with some friends whom I have known since the 1980s. Messages on WhatsApp have gone unanswered. People seem to have moved on. According to the article, the pandemic and ensuing lockdown has made friendships harder to sustain. This has led to feelings of isolation and loneliness. I have felt this at times too in the past year. With the passage of time, I have come to the conclusion that people have coped in different ways from the way we did pre-pandemic.

Lockdown has brought new ways to survive, in my opinion. People have solely turned to others within their ‘bubble’ rather than ‘spread the love’, or have sought solitude on their own. I have done both and adopted a third option of online friending. I have carried on keeping in touch with friends using social media, Zoom and good old email. If anything, the pandemic has helped make for closer friendships with those who haven’t fallen of my radar.

This curious past year has taught me to value people a lot more than I ever did before. So much so that calling someone on WhatsApp has become almost a guilty pleasure. Keeping in touch has become a cornerstone of my lockdown life.

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