Hello from lockdown!
As limiting and suffocating as this lockdown may feel, I urge everyone to focus on quarantine’s important liberating nature as well. What I mean is that we are living in a time now where one must take initiative to accomplish anything. Any relationship or friendship for example can no longer be maintained by chance encounters at school or attending the same events.
Quarantine has forced us with the responsibility of going out of our way to express care for the things and people we value in our life, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Think about it. Oftentimes, we are tied up by our busy daily routines and spontaneous plans with friends to focus on personal life goals we’ve set for ourselves. These goals wind up sitting on the back burner indefinitely. Now that we are sitting at home socially distanced, we have nothing to do but finally tend to those life goals. That is, if we want to. That’s the only factor now. If we want to. Distractions that usually exist in our lives have diminished. A lot of things we do during quarantine depend simply on if we wish to do it, and that is a beautiful thing. For example, maybe I’ll finally work on writing a novel. I have the time now and only myself stopping me.
This “Time of Initiative” also affects the month of Ramadan which just started for Muslims this past week. It’s sad that we cannot participate in the usual traditions of iftar parties and going to the mosque every night for congregational prayers. However, frankly speaking, there were a lot of social factors that also went into these great traditions. For example, was I going to the mosque every night purely for the prayers or to see my friends? In a way, there’s something exciting to observing Ramadan in quarantine, because it may be my most purifying experience yet, where I get to focus on my relationship with God with the least distraction.
Lastly, this time of initiative is probably most felt when it comes to socializing. We are all trapped at home, and so the usual pressures of FOMO (fear of missing out) are eliminated. If you want to spend time with someone, you are forced to reach out to them personally. You can no longer depend on outside factors, whether it was relying on chance encounters at frequently visited locations or someone else to make group plans. If we love someone, we are forced to clearly express it through more direct communication whether it’s through social media, mailing packages, more text messages, or video calling.
One of the biggest epiphanies I had this year during college was
that one must judge the strength of a relationship not by intimacy but rather initiative.
What I mean is all my life I would judge how strong/close my friendship was with someone depending on how much they opened up with me and how much I opened up with them. However, judging friendship by that criteria can be extremely misleading because someone could just see you as a convenient person to vent to because you are not connected to their drama. Furthermore, you could simply have a more comfortable personality to confide in. These aspects have nothing to do with your relationship with someone, and thus judging by intimacy alone is misleading. Of course, intimacy plays somewhat of a role, but the primary factor is how much initiative you and the other person take for each other. For example, do you find yourself asking how the other person is doing without any other reason to talk to them? My best friend one late night started analyzing our text messages to each other from the early years of friendship. Interestingly, we found a point where the conversations started to shift from simply playing games and inviting each other to things to unnecessary things like “Hope your test went well!” Is someone offering to help you at needed times and also times you thought you didn’t need help? Does the responsibility of planning hangouts go back and forth? These are things that actually add strength to the foundation of a friendship and lead to outlasting other relationships that seemed so much stronger in the moment due to situational factors.
It’s funny. Now that we are in quarantine, we’re naturally strengthening our relationships with everyone we care about and that’s a wonderful thing.
Welcome to the Time of Initiative.