30th July 2021
The 30th July marks the International Day of Friendship and what better time to think about the act of friendship and what it means!
The last year or so has redefined our relationships. From busy lives, most of us found we were confined to our homes, separated from our usual connections and instead left to live a rather stripped back life. Yet, as alone as we may have been, we also found we were more together than ever. Internet forums, Facebook groups and community connections grew and strengthened as people pulled together to face the same purpose – to keep each other safe and with the basics to survive. Neighbours that may previously have been a ‘wave to’ acquaintance as we jumped in the car became friends; delivery men and women a friendly face and lifeline with supplies and shopping; the NHS our frontline troops to keep us safe.
From initial separation and isolation, new ways of communicating, sharing and supporting each other were forged – who can forget the hastily arranged Zoom catch ups and parties that we found ourselves joining (“Can you see me? Can you hear me ok?”)? As we hesitantly found ways to return to work – from the kitchen table, the back bedroom, the garden – we embraced Microsoft teams and video calls as the new norm. We saw the backdrops of each other’s lives – the kids in the background, the wallpaper of our lives, the people behind your colleagues. We learned to look and listen in different ways.
And now we find ourselves once again taking a tentative step back into a life with much fewer restrictions and the opportunity to reconnect with our colleagues, rejoin our workplaces and recover from the shock of the pandemic. As we settle back in to life a little closer to what it once was, we must make sure that we don’t forget the lessons we have learned: the consideration of the wellbeing of others; the small acts of kindness; the flexible initiatives that recognise that we are all human beyond our jobs and careers and that we all on some level have the same worries, concerns and hopes.
On International Friendship Day, remember that connections are the greatest tools we have for survival and success, for overcoming challenges and obstacles, and for promoting diversity and wellbeing.
'Always try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud' - Maya Angelou