Bright-er Side: The pandemic helped me see who my real friends are

Decreasing my social circle has been a huge relief

ILLUSTRATION: Siloam Yeung / The Peak

By: Sara Wong, Arts & Culture Editor

In my senior year of high school, I was the type of person who was friends with everyone but never had a tight-knit circle. It made all the grad group activities, like Artona photos and prom, feel more awkward than fun because I was constantly questioning where I belonged. 

Maybe that’s the reason why, after starting university, I spent so much energy keeping in touch with everyone. The insecurity I felt over not having a core group of friends resulted in me being on my phone for hours at a time, trying to be emotionally available to upwards of five people at once. Then, the pandemic hit. With so much of my world thrown into chaos, sending my usual round of “Hi! How have you been?” texts slid further down my priority list. I’m used to being the person who reaches out first, so during the first few months of the pandemic, I was always pleasantly surprised when someone messaged me to check in, especially when they asked about my family. 

I’ve always been open about having a parent who’s immunocompromised: my mom has lupus, a chronic disease that — in her case — affects her kidneys. Having friends keep tabs on my family’s wellbeing made me realize I wasn’t on the fringe of every social circle like I had imagined. 

In contrast to my super sweet, supportive friends, others at that time treated me like I was the problem for not wanting to risk COVID-19 exposure. I was told I needed to worry less. Suffice to say, I don’t talk to those people anymore. 

Getting rid of toxic friends allowed me to focus on myself and also have deeper, more meaningful conversations with people. And with everyone at home more often, it was easier to plan fun group activities too, like monthly cocktail nights over Zoom

Now that the COVID-19 restrictions are easing once more, I’m looking forward to seeing my real friends and not wasting my time in toxic relationships.