The 2020 Effect on Friendships

I’ve been reflecting recently on how 2020 was a year that brought a lot of change and clarity to friendships in my life. I’ve spoken with others who also experienced this. One friend put it well: “Now that I’ve had so much time to miss people, who do I actually miss?”

I enjoy having many friends. Mom friends, single friends, college friends, internet friends I’ve never actually met in real life, old work friends, etc. I’ve been able to see very few of these friends this year, and I’ve had lots of time to think about these friendships and reflect on which ones I genuinely miss and which ones turned out to be more of a drain than I realized.

2020 was also a very polarizing year when it came to a a long list of issues like politics, religion, racism, and strangely enough — even science. As a result of some conversations about these issues, I know I’ve lost a couple of friends, and I know that my feelings about some have changed as well (both positively and negatively).

Some friends became closer, some more distant. I gravitated more toward friends with whom I shared many of the same values. I made new friends volunteering for local campaigns, and it has been so good to be plugged into a group of folks as informed and passionate about local politics as I am. I found friends willing to talk about deeper issues like white privilege and race.

I also learned who I felt safe turning to when things were difficult. During the times of stress and uncertainty, when I felt lonely, or when I just needed another adult to talk to.  Marco Polo came in very handy for that, and I’m incredibly thankful to be able to connect daily with my closest college friends via that app. As far apart as we are, I feel closer than ever to them.

I’ve pruned my social media “friends” lists as well. I think I probably removed over 150 people on Facebook this year and more on Instagram. Mostly just some very old acquaintances or people I connected with during my time in direct sales as well as people I realized I have nothing in common with any more. Being a people pleaser, it was hard for me to do this at first, but it became easier with more practice. I also left a Facebook group I had been in for a long time and discovered I don’t miss it at all now that I’m out. It truly was a drain on my time and energy.

I’m not sure what 2021 will bring when it comes to friendships. I cannot wait to drink margaritas with some of my friends at our favorite Mexican restaurant and meet up at the park for playdates again. For some friendships, I don’t think it will be possible to go back to the “before times” after all that 2020 threw at us. I’m learning to live with that discomfort and reminding myself that some friendships are only for a season.

2020 has definitely shaken up the seasons in my life.

I'm Julia and I live in Olathe with my husband of 14 years, my 8 and 4 year old daughters, and a sweet old blind pug we call Boopers. I’m a social worker turned SAHM and love Dr. Pepper, thunderstorms, and talking to other adults. I hate coffee, diet culture, and washing dishes. I'll talk your ear off about the best local parks and which restaurants have wronged me by changing their long-standing menu items. I try to walk the line between knowing a lot of stuff and not being a know-it-all. Some days I'm better than others.