The ‘First Days of the Pandemic’ Friendship Test

A simple thought exercise that reveals who matters most in your life

My wife once told me that when she was in her twenties, moving away from her hometown in Spain helped her to get clear on who truly belonged in her life. She only had so much brain space to spare as she adjusted to a new city, so she only made an effort to stay in contact with a select group of people. She also realized that only certain people from her past made an effort to stay in touch with her.

It’s like what Nike co-founder Phil Knight wrote in his book Shoe Dog: “The fastest way to know if you love someone is to say goodbye.” As we begin to slowly emerge out of the pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about that, and about her story.

Last week, our town borders were lifted and my family and I were given free rein to venture out into the world — or at least, into our Spanish province of Catalunya. It’s strange, but I haven’t yet raced out the door. If this were six months ago, I’d have been on the coast by now. Or at least, in my neighboring town eating ribs. It hasn’t always comfortable over the last 12 months with two young kids, but my home has gotten cozy. I feel kind of bad that I’m not making more of an effort to see my closest friends, but I understand why. It’s because I know they’re not going anywhere.

A year ago, when the pandemic began, I instinctively reached out to a small group of friends. We helped each other get through this very bad year — and I know we’ll continue to help each other with whatever curveballs life throws at us in the future. For a lot of us, I think this can be an interesting friendship thought exercise: Thinking about who you wanted to lean on during those first dark days can provide you with tremendous clarity on which relationships you should prioritize going forward. Get out a piece of paper and ask yourself the following questions:

  • When the pandemic began, who were the first people you called? Who were you happiest to take calls from? Think of these people as your “first responders.”
  • Who were the people who you were surprised didn’t reach out?
  • As the months went by, who did you find yourself wanting to spend more time with?
  • Out of the people you’ve virtually met this past year, which ones have you felt most connected to?

Don’t sit too long with these questions. In fact, the faster you answer them, the better. When you have your answers, you’ll know who you should prioritize when the world opens up again. These are the people you don’t have to rush to. The ones you know will always be there. The ones who matter most.

Co-creator of 2 cool boys with an equally cool woman • Career Coach • Business Insider, Fast Co., Forbes • Follow along for career tips and life reminders.

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