Reaching out to an old friend - why, how and wow!
I recently read an interesting article about how friendships have changed during the pandemic. It highlighted how our casual friendships have dwindled without that daily passing contact in the wider office envinronment, or as we missed collecting and dropping children on the school run. Conversely, our friendships with neighbours have increased as we’ve better got to know the people closer to home. And it explained why that close core of friends who you’ve been in daily contact with throughout the lockdown will forever be bonded having shared such an intense experience together.
For many of us, lockdown in March 2020 meant that our worlds shrank almost overnight and fear kept us safely indoors at home. Groceries were brought to the door and everyone was suddenly working and learning from home. Personally, I didn’t see anyone outside of my immediate family for many weeks, and whilst I love my clan, it was my friendships that helped keep me sane.
Because if your friends are anything like mine (I’m very lucky indeed!), you’ll have shared both the hilarity of group chats and boozy zoom calls (hands up who else finds humour a great way of processing?!), as well as messages of compassion and support as we helped each other navigate the reality of the situation. Those girls will be in my life forever. Fact.
But what about those friends who were neither our daily contacts or our core supports? What about those friends who were once a mainstay in our lives but who we’ve drifted apart from over the years? Maybe you’ve moved house or changed your job, or maybe life has just moved along and you realise that you haven’t spoken for months. Maybe even years.
Whilst on face value, the year 2020 feels highly unlikely to be the year that you finally make good on the Christmas card promise to 'meet up soon', it could in fact be the perfect opportunity to reach out and rebuild those long lost relationships.
Recently, I crossed paths on Facebook with an old friend who I used to work with. We’d always been friends but time had marched along and we were swept in opposite directions in life - both geographically and personally. We were busy. We hadn’t kept in touch.
As it happens, we have a new shared interest. A new common ground upon which to chat. I’d reached out with a question, she’d replied with a suggestion and before we realised what was happening, we were on a video chat, trying to catch up on 10 year’s worth of news. It was amazing.
I discovered that even though we now had new jobs, families, businesses, homes, adventures and ambitions, we were still the same people at heart. It was refreshing to speak with someone who had known me for so long. Who understood where I was coming from. Who reminded me of the person I had been all those years ago. And I got that warm fuzzy feeling that whilst (nearly everything) had changed around us, our connection hadn’t changed at all. We were still friends.
When we think about reaching out to an old friend, we worry. What if they don’t want to hear from us? What if they are busy? What if there was a reason why they haven’t been in touch? Chances are, your friend has all the same concerns as you.
So let’s flip it.
What if hearing from you is just what your friend needs right now? What if that connection will be a great thing for both of you? What if the worst thing to happen is that you wish you’d done it years ago?
I certainly don’t regret reaching out to my old friend, and I hope that if you do, you’ll be happy that you did too.
(FYI, the picture was taken many moons ago, and we were headed to a fancy dress carnival - hence the giant fluffy fairy wings and magic wands!)