Growing closer to my friends in spite of distance during COVID-19

The distance away from my loved ones taught me new ways to show care.

Ardini Insyirah

All smiles and giggles especially when there’s music.

Published: 8 October 2020, 5:56 PM

I’ve never believed that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” until COVID-19 forced a distance between my friends and me. 

Right before the circuit breaker was implemented, a close friend of mine, Christie, flew off to Australia to pursue her studies. Interestingly enough, the distance between us only served to bring us closer.

It wasn’t easy watching her leave as we had years of friendship, and she had plans to migrate. We used to take time out of our busy schedules to have meet-ups every week, and our days together were always full of laughter – whether it was a night of karaoke or a movie marathon. 


Our clique, from left to right, Neng, Sabrina, Christie and me on the day of Christie’s departure. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ARDINI INSYIRAH


Like most people, we resorted to video calls when we couldn’t physically see each other. 

Our daily catch-ups never felt dull as we always found new things to talk about. It was as if she never left, because even if she was still in Singapore, we couldn’t have met in person during the circuit breaker. 

Weirdly enough, I feel a lot closer to this group of friends now that we meet more on Skype.


The chocolates my friends and I sent over for Christie’s birthday. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ARDINI INSYIRAH


Apart from our daily chats, my friends and I also spent our birthdays a little differently this year. We sent over a box of chocolates for Christie’s birthday, and Skyped her to join in for my birthday celebration, like a scene out of a mukbang video.

I believe that the distance taught us how to be creative in the ways we show care to the people we love. Be it sending food to their doorstep or watching movies together over a video call, the impact behind these seemingly tiny gestures was amplified due to the distance. It showed thoughtfulness in ensuring that the receiver felt loved even from a distance.

The distance pushed us to come up with alternative solutions to make do with the situation. If we wanted to be there enough for each other, we had to do our best to make it happen, regardless of the inconvenience.


One of the last meals we had with Christie before she flew off for Australia. PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTH.SG/ARDINI INSYIRAH


It was during this pandemic when I also realised the importance of being present. For some reason, I noticed we tend to pay much more attention to conversations with another person when we are physically apart. We get into deeper details about their day, their well-being and even stories from their past.

While technology gave us the ease of communication, we may also sometimes get distracted by the constant fresh content we see online. At every physical gathering, there’s always pockets of time where everyone becomes anti-social and glues themselves to their devices. 

As a result of not being mentally present, we tend to forget to cherish the moments that we share with the people right before our eyes. 

The distance gave us the opportunity to bond with each other on a deeper level by spending time together more intentionally. Devices were being put away to eliminate distractions from having quality conversations with each other, and this helped to bring us closer than we’ve ever been. 

While not all of us have experienced being apart from our loved ones, COVID-19 may have put many physical gatherings on hold. And while many of us explored other ways to show care during the time apart, let’s remember to continue exercising creativity and intentional communication even when the distance is no longer there.

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