Healthy Bonds: Can Our Problems Work Out?

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By Kimberly Valle, Sullivan HS Freshman

It’s hard having to maintain so many relationships at once, especially during this ongoing pandemic. 

Whether that be with your friends, family, loved ones, or even a colleague/classmate, there are times where your relationship with those people can go left, instead of right, and it’s completely normal. 

However, constant lefts that continuously overthrow the rights are worth having a second look at. 

While many people may argue that friendships will always have their bad days, sometimes too many bad days can lead to complicated, toxic, and flat out fatiguing days. 

It’s agreeable that friendships will not always veer towards one’s liking, but there are ways to prevent those wearying bonds. 

Here are some tips you can follow to keep healthy bonds during a pandemic with some insight from Joshua Zepeda, a refugee social worker at Sullivan High School and Jocelyn Cantu, freshman at Senn High School.

How can we fix our relationship/friendship during COVID?

The first step is to figure out what’s wrong: Where does the issue begin? Is it due to lack of communication, time spent together, agreement on things? There are multiple reasons as to why people may not bond the same way they would as when they first met. During this pandemic, things may be a little trickier to fix, but it isn’t impossible. 

  1. Talk to them

Talking to someone about your concerns is a great way to start. 

If your issue is communication, this is the best way to fix it, so that you’re able to openly discuss your worries with the person and give yourself a platform to speak about it without hiding it. 

You can do this by simply asking if you can talk to them, and continue to say what you’ve been noticing lately. 

Cantu reflects on ways she stays connected with her friends by stating, “We all have social media and we can contact each other whenever we want to. My two friends and I still talk every day!”

During the pandemic, talking to people will be easier, as you can text, call, FaceTime, etc. Cantu has found ways to adapt to the pandemic, but that may not be the case for other people. 

Zepeda says he feels “Totally disconnected. I don’t think my brain quite knows what to do about that given the whole pandemic and wanting to keep people safe. Staff members spend a lot of time together with each other both in and out of school and that has been extremely difficult to do this year. I can’t imagine what that’s been like for students.”

Zepeda said, “If you’re feeling isolated, down, depressed, angry, hopeless, reach out to someone at school we have tons of social workers and counselors who are ready and willing to help you with that. It’s completely normal to feel that way. I would say that a majority of people probably do these days, but there’s always something you can do to help make a situation better. You might just not see it from your perspective right now.”

It is also good to make sure you watch out for signs of gaslighting, which is a term used when someone is trying to manipulate you into thinking that you’re delusional. This can look like a person saying that you’re overthinking something or overreacting, instead of actually trying to fix the issue. 

2. Hang out with them

Mr. Zepeda shared his usual daily routine before the pandemic by saying, “If I saw a colleague or a student in the hall that was the best part of my day. I’m truly a people person. I like to walk down the halls and say hi to people.”

Since Mr. Zepeda and his colleagues used to hang out together often, you can almost imagine how he must’ve felt not being able to talk directly face to face and hang out as often. 

Sometimes people’s way of showing appreciation or such can be through going out and spending a lot of time with them in person. However, due to the pandemic, this may change. If you are able to go out, you can ask the person if they’d like to catch up or accompany you to a store or to get some food. 

*Note: If you don’t meet with this person often, it is highly recommended that you wear a mask when hanging out. 

3. Understand them

Some people had a bumpy ride at first, even Cantu had a hard time at first. She said, “It was difficult at first because all of us thought the no school thing was temporary. When in reality it wasn’t. If I’m honest, I don’t talk to anyone from my middle school anymore besides my two friends. I lost a lot of friendships due to this pandemic. However I’m very understanding, because I know that everyone is going through different situations. So there’s no need to pressure anyone into contacting you, friends come and go.”

Many students can probably relate to Jocelyn’s statement on losing friendships due to the pandemic.

In the end, we all have our own lives at home, and many of us live in different areas, different circumstances that we have to deal with individually. If you and the person who you’re having issues with live in separate places, understand that the person has their personal life, and COVID may look different in their area. Simply trying to recognize that they aren’t always going to be available because of issues going on outside of the relationship will be appreciated by someone. Jumping to conclusions by saying that they just don’t care about you, or that you don’t exist to that person  causes not only overthinking on your part, but an abundance of stress on the other person for trying to provide for your needs as well. 

It can be difficult to keep in touch with everyone you know, especially during the pandemic, but it’s okay. Even if you are struggling to make yourself aware that other people around you are busy, make an effort to step in their shoes and let them get back to you whenever they have the time. 

Jocelyn’s response was different from Mr. Zepeda’s response when discussing disconnection during the pandemic. Keeping this in mind, since it can show you just how different and unique each person is. That’s why it’s always important to remember that everyone is handling the pandemic differently, and people may have a harder time adapting to online life, even after a year.

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