Make new friends in quarantine, keep old ones too

Photo of a person zooming friends
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“OK, I hear you, but it’s easier said than done. How do I make friends during quarantine?” You say.

“It takes a bit of a magical mixture,” I say.

Heart, guts and luck. And no, you don’t need to do any dissecting. OK, maybe a little dissecting, but just on what you want to get out of it and what you’re willing to put in. From the Confessions from UC Berkeley Facebook page to the subreddit r/Berkeley, I keep seeing this same question again and again. And it’s a totally valid one that many of us think about these days. After all, we’re at the year mark since it all started, and you might be losing hope in making new friends and motivation in keeping old ones. I can’t promise my guide is a one-size-fits-all, but I do hope it offers a little push to try again. I know it can be hard, so I’m sending good vibes and love, and hopefully, you’ll get something out of this.

Heart

Heart is often used to symbolize emotion. While friendships and love don’t have to be emotional, strong relationships are built on the grounds of love, trust and caring. Good questions to reflect on are: What kind of friendships am I looking for? Strong attachments or casual acquaintances? Am I ready to be vulnerable, to share and empathize? Am I ready to trust someone new? Respect, compromise and understanding all come hand-in-hand. Questions to reflect on here are: Am I ready to respect their values even if I don’t agree? Can I respect their boundaries? And last but not least, can I compromise my time to get to know them? I know your heart is in the right place, so I have faith in you!

Guts

Now that you have dissected what you want and what you can offer, you should take action. Reach out. This goes for both making new friends and keeping old ones. Communication requires two, but to initiate it, only one. I agree, sometimes you don’t know what to say, and other times, it can be downright awkward. For making new friends in class, suggest a study group. Type your email or phone number in the Zoom chat if you’re comfortable, or better yet, pick out a social media, create a channel or group chat and have others join. No one really wants to do this work, so if you’re willing to, you’ll also reap the benefits. 

As classes go on, it might feel like the prime time for making new friends has passed. But before the end of the semester, take the opportunity of the days and weeks leading up to major tests and essays, and hit up classmates to study together or proofread. How to go about this? Breakout rooms can be anxiety-inducing, but if there’s only one person, you kind of have to say something. Take advantage and say hi, ask them where they’re living now, how they’re putting up with the pandemic. If you are presenting together after the breakout room, private message a, “Good job!” Likewise, if breakout rooms are off the table, private message compliments to someone, especially if you noticed they dyed their hair a cool color or are sporting a shirt with your favorite band. They will respond, and if not, chances are they didn’t see it. Don’t dwell, move on.

Luck

Don’t just take advice from me, go comb the Facebook page and Reddit threads. I see over and over again this one response: “Join a club!” And it does work, just not without a dash of luck. Think about it, this person has to be in search of or at least be open to a new friend. Not so hard. They probably have to share something in common with you, whether that be an interest, hobby or sense of humor. Harder. And then they’d have to have the motivation, time and drive to keep in touch with you so that you move beyond the acquaintance zone. This can be easy or difficult, and sometimes, damn well impossible. This is when Lady Luck comes in. Whether it’s a class or a club or something in between, cross your fingers, pray or create an altar for and enact a ritual to Oski, so that you just might meet that special someone or someones.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to make a friend or two this semester, but remember that this is not the end — it’s only the beginning. Keeping up with your newfound friends (and old friends) is so important. Send them a short note to tell them you’re thinking about them. Phrase your messages to be open-ended, so they can’t get away with a single “yes” or “no,” and find new territories to talk about from there. Check in often, and hopefully, the “check-ins” will become natural conversations, calls and activities to do together. Even if you rarely talk to them, they’ll be pleasantly surprised you thought of them. College is a strange but formative part of our lives, and it’s totally normal to crave company. I’m rooting for you!

Contact Angelina Yin at [email protected].