August 25, 2020
Almost half of 2020 has been spent under quarantine. The shock of the disruptions in our daily lives have mostly subsided, and it seems like we’re beginning to accept the new normal.
What used to be faces and outfits are now faces and filters. What used to be hangout spots are now virtual backgrounds. What used to be actual classrooms are now Zoom meetings or Google classrooms.
And even more screens.
Screens have dominated whatever social interactions we’ve had. Video calling has been the closest we are to face-to-face interactions. As artificial and awkward as they are, we press on with these calls.
However, even video calling can be a luxury because of the unstable internet connections and inconsistent access to them. We’re no longer surprised when people stop speaking mid-sentence or when their voices suddenly sound robotic. And so, we try other ways—chat, online calls, phone calls, or even text messaging.
But, while our internet lines are not clear, what this situation has made clear is the value of human relationships. Because, despite the challenges and difficulties we face in connecting with one another, we exert effort in maintaining our key relationships even in this virtual world.
We value our relationships more than we often realize. Indeed, we invest in what we value.
For students who are moving up to a new level this school year, there is an added challenge of making new friends on top of adjusting to a new campus.
Is it really still worth having more friendships to maintain?
Why? We will never have a shortage of adversity, but we could have a shortage of reliable friends.
Now entering a “virtual” campus, how do you build strong, reliable friendships?
Give it TIME.
The lack of face-to-face interaction has made it harder for us to establish authenticity and genuineness.
Indeed, there is a risk attached to being vulnerable to other people. However, there is also that reward of finding reliable friends who will stick with you no matter what.
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 (NLT)
In the highs, hays, and lows of this pandemic, it greatly helps to have people who understand your current context and situation.
Get to know people, initiate conversations, and take the risk of opening up, even if only bit-by-bit. Truthfulness is key to building trust. When the people see our willingness to trust them with some details of our lives, they will also feel safe being vulnerable around us. The deeper the trust, the deeper the friendship grows.
Friends make life’s challenges more bearable. When the going gets tough, you can trust that these people are there for you, know how to be there for you, and, more importantly, help guide you to God.
In any friendship, we must be intentional.
Being intentional means taking deliberate steps to build relationships, reach out, and help people.
But we must also know not to overdo it.
You do not need to video call your friends every day (unless they request it, but to be honest, this may seem exhausting for both parties).
You can send memes, but you don’t have to flood their inbox. You can definitely call, but choose the timing wisely (unless it’s an emergency).
In reality, you are not the only one in this person’s life. They have family and other friends, too. They have a life offline. We can also care for them by giving them space every now and then.
The point is to have constant communication and intentional effort enough to build and sustain the friendship.
You’ve probably already realized that we are living in historic times. It’s neither exciting nor amazing, but history marches forward as it unfolds before us. May we also realize that even our personal histories are also marching on and unfolding.
I don’t think it could have been said any better by Sung Deok-sun of Reply 1988:
“Time will always flow. Everything will pass by. Everything will age. That might be why youth is beautiful. It shines, blindingly bright, just for an instant. But, to it, you can never go back.”
The time we spend on our relationships will all turn into memories eventually, but, even with all the challenges of life, will that time spent be filled with joy, laughter, and heartwarming moments?
You have the chance to make history a little brighter for you and your friends. Make this season count by building unique memories with them.
At one point of our lives, we’ve all experienced challenges working with a group. Maybe you’ve even experienced falling out with a circle of friends.
Past experience may cause us to think that involving others into our lives can be messy and complicated.
Honestly, it is really messy and complicated. But to expect relationships to be free of these is to expect perfection. Reality check: none of us is perfect.
You know what else is messy and complicated? Life—not just in academics or family. Life as a whole can be messy. Rarely is it a smooth journey. It is really too much for us to bear alone.
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)
Building friendship with people means inviting them to experience life with us. In the same way, it is a commitment to them that you will also journey with them through life’s ups and downs.
We are all on a journey. And we can journey together.
We are all on our own life adventures, but we can all go on the adventure together.
This pandemic has made us experience the different challenges of life in a short span of time. How great would it be to have willing people journey with you through every mountain and valley of your life?
I’ll say it again: We will never have a shortage of adversity, but we could have a shortage of reliable friends.
That’s why we need to be intentional in building friendships that will help us withstand life’s adversities.
Putting in time and effort to build strong, reliable friendships will bear fruit. Your friends will see your true value—who you really are—and treasure you for it.
They too, will give TIME to you.
(Photo by: Bella Manzano)