During college, we’re surrounded by opportunities to make new friends . . . at least, we usually are. Right now, while campuses across the country are dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, you might be finding yourself facing a lack of opportunities to interact with new people in the ways that you’ve done before. While you should still try to meet new people as best you can, especially if you’re a freshman, this is also a great time to focus on your older friendships.
The great thing about long-lasting friendships is that it often doesn’t take much to keep them alive. Newer friendships usually require more cultivation to get to this point, but if you think about the people you’ve been friends with for years, those are the people you see after a long absence and immediately jump back into the same old casual familiarity with one another.
One easy way to stay in touch with your old friends right now is to call, text, and video chat. This may seem fairly obvious and perhaps you’ve been doing it already but if you aren’t in consistent contact with someone, consider reaching out. Start a conversation. Since these are the people who know you the best, you can make it a deep conversation if you want, the kind where both of you can really get things that have been bothering you off your chest. Also, if you’re not living near each other at the moment, setting up some kind of Zoom or other video chat will allow you to still see each other and have the kind of more intimate reunion that you can’t quite get with texting.
After you’ve reunited, get in the habit of staying in touch, even if it’s not every day. You can recap how your weeks have been on Fridays or ask about each other’s plans for the week on Sundays. You could have friend dates every other Saturday or a Zoom call every Wednesday afternoon. Whatever works best for your individual friendship and helps you stay close!
Beyond simply being in communication with each other with some kind of regularity, it’s important to occasionally do things together. If you’re near each other, there are plenty of fun fall activities you can do together while social distancing: visit a pumpkin patch, go through a haunted house, show each other your Halloween costumes, watch some fun Halloween movies, etc.
If you’re not near each other physically, there are plenty of other options. For example, you can decide to read the same book or listen to the same audiobook and talk about it as you go, work on some kind of project together if you have common interests (write a story together, collaborate musically or artistically, etc.), or watch a movie or TV show together, maybe even taking advantage of something like Netflix Party that lets you watch together in real time.
Get in the habit of consistently doing these things with all of your close friends! After all, friends are the family you choose, so it’s worth putting in a little time and effort to keep them by your side. And remember, because there’s no one perfect formula for what a good friendship looks like, you should treat every friendship you have like the unique bond it is.