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Young people struggle to keep friends close as pandemics pull them apart: NPR

Maintaining friendships and social networks during a pandemic often requires effort.

Susan Hejin Lee of NPR


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Susan Hejin Lee of NPR

Maintaining friendships and social networks during a pandemic often requires effort.

Susan Hejin Lee of NPR

25-year-old Emma Fritschel and 23-year-old Evelyn Wang met as roommates on the first day of their freshman year almost six years ago and have been inseparable ever since.

But then the COVID-19 pandemic strained their relationship in a way they had never experienced before.

“Things were really tense between us because we two came up with it in our heads,” says the king. At the heart of it was the difficulty of communicating with both.

Brought together by similar interests in visual arts and fashion, they have experienced many traditional milestones together, including graduating from college and starting a professional career.

Wang and Fritschel live in New York City, Cambridge, and Massachusetts, respectively. After graduation, they made it a habit to visit and stay in touch with each other once a month until the pandemic delayed their trip and was deprived of the short weekends they spent together. Their friendship, like many others, has switched to something purely virtual.

For Fritcher and Wang, an important part of their dynamics before the pandemic was being in front of each other. When that element disappeared, both had to tackle the question: what does their friendship now mean with barriers and pandemic restrictions that limit their ability to be in the same space?

“Vulnerable and upset”

The transitional, and often challenging, “graduate students” encountered by recent college graduates as they find employment or take the next step in life have been exacerbated by the pandemic.Many college graduates struggle to find a job in the worst recession Contemporary American history.. 46.7%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics For young people aged 16 to 24 in July 2020, A decrease from 56.2% reported during the same period in 2019.

Emma Fritschel and Evelyn Wang, friends from the freshman year, had to navigate a completely virtual friendship for the first time for a pandemic.

Emma Richell and Evelyn Wang


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Emma Richell and Evelyn Wang

Emma Fritschel and Evelyn Wang, friends from the freshman year, had to navigate a completely virtual friendship for the first time for a pandemic.

Emma Richell and Evelyn Wang

Prolonged transitions and reduced social interactions in a tough economy come at the cost of that emotion.According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46% Of the young people surveyed Women between the ages of 18 and 24 reported feeling symptoms of pandemic anxiety and stressor-related disorders. Of all age groups, young people reported the highest percentage.

According to a report released by the Harvard Graduate School of Education project Making Caring Common, more than one in three Americans experienced “serious loneliness” during a pandemic. Young adults feel it most at 61%.

During the pandemic, the king moved from her parents’ home. She got a new job and adopted a dog. Fritcher felt left out of those life updates, and in return the king was aware of the fact that they had made progress in their lives and seemed to be absent from each other.

“These big moments were happening and they were passing us, and I wasn’t part of it,” says Richell. “I think each of us and in our hearts are happy for others, but they can also be vulnerable and upset.”

As the pandemic restrictions increased, anxiety about the relationship between the king and Richell began to rise. It wasn’t the same, even when a few months later, when we finally met each other at a social distance in the park. Fritcher describes it as “damaging” friendship. The king agrees that he continued to think about ways to maintain boundaries and keep them safe.

In the end, they had a big debate, not only about their friendship, but also about each other’s artistic skills, discussing the anxieties that worsened during the last year.

“My anxiety, which I thought was crazy, was actually exactly what Emma felt,” Wang says. “It’s crazy that we both feel this way,” she recalls.

Richell argues that it is often difficult to express negative emotions because it distracts others.

Maya Lee, 24, has accepted a virtual connection with her close friendship, but there are still some things she doesn’t want to talk about.

Maya Lee


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Maya Lee

Maya Lee, 24, has accepted a virtual connection with her close friendship, but there are still some things she doesn’t want to talk about.

Maya Lee

Graduate tensions have been “amplified”

Mayaly, 24, of Indianapolis, had a similar experience. She has virtually managed to stay in touch with her close friends, but she may be worried about discussing a particular topic within a limited phone time, such as the recent transition to medical school.

“I have a lot of negative things to say these days, that’s what I really feel, and I own it,” says Lee. She doesn’t want to beat herself or her friends, even if she knows it probably isn’t.

As a graduate of the 2019 class, she says that the year after graduation, even before a pandemic, can be a somewhat difficult experience for some to navigate.

Clare Mclnerney, 23, who graduated from Scarsdale, NY in 2020 and is currently working as a first-year teacher intern, said the pandemic caused natural tensions among recent college graduates during her postgraduate transition. States to have increased.

Clare Mclnerney, 23, a 2020 class graduate, looks back on the challenge of maintaining friendships with recent graduates.

David Gold / Claire McNurney


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David Gold / Claire McNurney

For Mclnerney, one of the main challenges in maintaining current friendships is navigating how each person is in a completely different, equally valuable place.

“People are worried about where they are from a job search perspective and a home search perspective,” says Mclnerney. “Adding a pandemic makes everything really complicated.”

She adds that “the tension of not knowing what to share, what to listen to, and what makes them uneasy” can be particularly difficult to navigate. Therefore, she found that connecting by watching games and movies could mitigate the impact of these stressors on friendship.

Mclnerney states that he sometimes feels guilty because he’s doing pretty well, given the situation he enjoys working with and is perceived as less common among current graduates.

Middle school and high school band director Jona Andreatta looks back on how the pandemic suspended social and professional life.

Thomas Nadecker / Jona Andreatta


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Thomas Nadecker / Jona Andreatta

Middle school and high school band director Jona Andreatta looks back on how the pandemic suspended social and professional life.

Thomas Nadecker / Jona Andreatta

Loss of prime time

Jona Andreatta, 23, a middle and high school band director from Lexington, Kentucky, has virtually found a way to connect with friends, but still feels lost. The “romantic” version of adulthood in the early twenties is inconsistent with life under a pandemic.

“Here we are at this young age who wants to start things, go out into the world, try everything, travel young and meet each other,” says Andreatta. “But we are stuck in the apartment.”

For Wang and Richell, they knew that their friendship was too important to lose, and after their discussion, the friendship bounced stronger than ever.

They have also found new ways to connect beyond the occasional zoom chat and are currently working on an art project together.

“Knowing that we love each other doesn’t mean we can assume that things are good. That’s not enough,” recalls the experience of maintaining long-distance relationships during a pandemic.

“You still have to maintain a relationship. If you care about that person, you do the job.”

Hadia Bakkar is an intern at NPR’s National Desk.

Young people struggle to keep friends close as pandemics pull them apart: NPR

Source link Young people struggle to keep friends close as pandemics pull them apart: NPR

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