There’s no point in trying to hide it any longer…I’m a home bod. Try as I might to deny it, the first few months of Coronavirus saw me living my best life: going outside was illegal, sitting at home watching documentaries with my parents was the wildest my Friday nights got, and I started knitting (in preparation for my retirement years, obvs). Yep! I’m secretly super lame. Who knew? (But seriously. Go watch Three Identical Strangers on Netflix. Thank me later.)
But the pubs are back open (for now), we’re allowed to see 5 of our friends, and I no longer have an excuse to stay tucked away in my little corner of the middle of nowhere. At around the same time as we were all allowed back into Wagamama’s, I was hit with three realisations:
1. There are no jobs around and I’m going to be unemployed forever and ever
2. Because I will never ever be employed, I am going to live under my parents’ roof forever and ever
3. I should probably have some semblance of a social life while I’m there
(I have, since, found a job in a lovely pub down my road and the career path is looking a bit brighter, but the other two still stand.)
Sadly, as is the case for many of us recent graduates, the great friends we made at Uni now live slightly too far away to pop down to the Big Sainsbury’s just to feel something or go to the pub after rehearsal (read: 9 am lecture). At the beginning of lockdown, this was no problem: we had Zoom! (I do, however, think that I speak for everyone when I say that if I have to do ONE more Zoom quiz, I am throwing my laptop out the window…)
When the dust finally settled a little, and University (and panic masters) started up again, I turned my attention to my home friends – those soulmates I met at school that would always be in my life – and realised that I could probably count them on two hands…with a couple of fingers amputated…
I was really surprised by this – my friends at school had meant so much to me and I had let them slip without even noticing. Don’t get me wrong, I still talk to a couple of them nearly every week, but the majority of my teenage best friends were either still at Uni or had moved away (come back?), or we had just lost contact. I was feeling kind of sad (and embarrassed) about this and so I swallowed my pride and reached out to one of my oldest friends over the Summer. I found out she was feeling the same way. I then texted a girl I’d been really close with in Sixth Form and, shockingly, she was also feeling the same way.
So if everyone I spoke to was experiencing it, why aren’t we talking about loneliness post-University? Type ‘Lonely After Uni’ into Google and you get 11.5 MILLION hits. Which means I am definitely not the only one. And it makes sense! A lot of us have come back from three years of living with our friends and partying every weekend… to being back in our childhood bedrooms, trying to rekindle our sense of selves (especially the Class of COVID-19). Is it the idea these are supposed to be the best years of our life that’s stopping the conversation? That if you’re not surrounded by endless friends and bottomless brunches you’re somehow failing? I know social media doesn’t help (but that’s a big ol’ can of worms) but other than that I don’t have anything particularly profound to say on the topic. I just wish we’d talk about it a bit more so we wouldn’t feel so… alone in dealing with it.
A few weeks ago, I took matters into my own hands and created a group chat: five of us from school that weren’t even really in the same friendship circle at school, but who were just around now. I called it ‘The Leftovers’ because that’s kind of how it felt. We went for dinner last night and it was really great. No awkwardness, a lot of laughter, and relief that we hadn’t lost those friends.
Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who has no idea what I’m talking about…but maybe you’re not. If that’s the case, just know that you’re not as alone as you think you are. If you need a brunch buddy, someone to watch a documentary with, or just want to reach out, you can always talk to me.
Lots of Love,