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Pandemic Diary: 5 Women Tell Us How Friendships Changed In 2020

pandemic moral high ground

The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a revolution upon the world. Not necessarily of the positive kind, but more of the aggressively life-altering kind. For better or for worse, the pandemic-induced lockdown has entirely changed the way human beings live. Staying home for the better part of the year has transformed our habits, altered our conversations, and taken a toll on our emotions. So much so that even the dynamics of our social relations have taken a roller-coaster ride. The highs and lows have been such that we’ve either felt nauseous with the euphoria it brought or blue with the melancholy of it all. But it’s safe to say that we have all evolved from what we were at the start of 2020. And so have our friends and friendships, in rather bittersweet ways.

Here are five people from across ages and states telling us the how and why of it:

1. On finding patience and tenderness

“The past year has been tumultuous in all respects. My friends have always been supportive and understanding, but this year, I’ve experienced a different level of symbiotic patience and tenderness in friendships. Every friend is unique and all of them had their own issues to deal with, during the pandemic. Not being able to communicate face-to-face has been a challenge, but it’s been a real test when it came to who really understands you, and will go the extra mile to be with you! Mental health has been more important in 2020 than ever before, and my friends were people who understood my unusual silence or mindless chatter.”

Kunjan Ahluwalia, Delhi

2. On always falling back on our girlfriends

“The pandemic tested our patience this year. But I have two beautiful girlfriends, with whom I have shared a lifetime of happiness and challenges. We have been going strong for nine years now. Life has happened for each one of us. During the pandemic, we realised that even if we don’t talk to each other everyday, we still have each other’s backs. The weekly video calls, messages – just to check if everyone is okay – was more than all three of us asked for. And we also realised that we don’t need anyone else to complete us. Some other friends with whom I had lost touch, reconnected, and I shared some beautiful midnight conversations with them. Living alone made me realise how much importance friends hold in my life.”

Shivangi Divya, Jamshedpur

3. On cutting toxic friends out

“I think the pandemic changed my outlook and reach to friends because I felt the need to reach out to them more, especially since I was staying alone, abroad for a large chunk of the lockdown. Thank heavens for technology; I could dial up my girl gang at the drop of a hat, whenever I felt even the slightest bit low. It definitely got me closer to the ones who were already close. That said, the pandemic did narrow down my friend circle, and for that I am thankful. It gave me the strength to cut out a lot of the toxicity that was holding me back. Friends who weren’t really friends, guys giving mixed signals, people who were coming and going per their own convenience. I decided I didn’t need this negativity and imbalance. In that way, I think my friend circle evolved.”

Tanya Ghai, Japan

4. On online classes bridging friendships

“Actually the pandemic worked both as a boon and bane for me. For a person who literally lives on socialising, it was torturous not getting to meet any of my friends. I wouldn’t say I drifted apart from any of my friends per se but our nature of friendship slightly changed. But on the other hand, I got to properly catch up with a lot of my old friends who I had sort of lost touch with. I also got really close to some people which probably wouldn’t have opened over physical classes. I think it helps when friendship is without its physical constraints in a way. You can talk to more people without hesitation when there’s a screen in between. And I believe a lot of people, like me, were starving for a social life, even if digitally. So I can say my friend circle did get bigger during the pandemic.”

Anisha Keshava, Bengaluru

5. On fun, food, and friendship

“My friends and I live close by, in the same building. So, if nothing, we only got closer. Since their domestic help workers weren’t coming (and my friends aren’t the best of cooks) they would come down to my place for meals everyday, and then we’d end up playing cards till 2 am every night. We also were in the middle of our thesis when the lockdown happened. We relied on each other to discuss designs, would critique each other’s work, and help whenever needed. More than usual, in fact. This circle of mine is like family: they’re close to my parents too. There wasn’t really a change in our friendship. But I sure was thankful to have them around. Especially since it made a lot of people jealous that I was living the dream: locked down with friends around.”

Preksha Sinha, Uttar Pradesh