Weeding Them Out

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on September 08, 2021 # Lifestyle

Kristin holding her dog in front of a happy birthday signI get it – we’re past the year 2020. Most of us are over the hill of COVID-19 scares; we’ve adopted new habits from quarantine and had time to forget them, and; life is getting closer to 2019-normal. Congratulations for making out of that pandemic alive and, hopefully, with some lessons learned from our year in quarantine.

My biggest lesson is the importance of reaching out to people. Like most of us, my network of friends took a hit with the pandemic and quarantine; I lost some ease of connecting with people, which caused me to lose touch with some casual friends. Surprisingly, for my closer friends, the pandemic actually brought us together because it forced us to work for our friendship. For the ones who did work for it, I saw their true and beautiful colors. We’re calling this “weeding them out.”

The extra effort it takes for voice calls, and zoom conferences during quarantine meant that I cultivated a network of people in my life that I care about enough to maintain regular contact, and I did just that. As an example, the pandemic started my habit of calling both sets of grandparents every week; I started hosting and continue to host a weekly video call with a group of 5-6 friends, and; I’m free from friendships that are held together by a string of unfulfilled “we should hang out sometime.”

In the surge of the coronavirus, living on a literal or figurative island may have seemed appealing to some of you. But, you just can’t do that – it’s not how we were made. On the contrary, having at least one or two friends who come to you and that you can depend on for support is beneficial for a lot of reasons. To name a few:

  1. People give you perspective. We tend to be emotional when things don’t go our way, and it’s sometimes hard to see things objectively. Talking to someone is the best way to put our problem(s) in perspective, and put them in their rightful place. Make sure you’re seeking out people with the same or similar faith and morals as you, or else you’ll lose yourself. See: what happened to me in my college years. Learn my lessons.
  2. It builds compassion. It’s easy to become “me-centered” when we’re going through tough times. The simple act of sharing your difficulty with other people forces you to consider someone outside of yourself, even if it’s only in the way you tell the story.
  3. Hear yourself say it. My thoughts have a way of straightening themselves out when I say them with my voice, so this is a big one. Telling someone or something about my issue gives me a chance to hear my logic and order my thoughts aloud. I said to tell someone “or something” your issue because, especially when I was living alone, I had full conversations in the mirror, to a glass of milk, and of course, to my dog. Talking to a glass of milk was only on one occasion – I’m not a complete loony yet.
  4. You’re not alone, and you’ll feel it. There were some periods during quarantine that I felt alone – physically, of course, but also in like-minded or similarly-challenged people. People were made to thrive in the community, despite quarantine trying to convince us otherwise. We are not islands and, although it might be nice to detach for periods of time, no one likes to feel alone all the time. Talking to people who feel or experience similar to you can be a game-changer.

We need each other. Sometimes it takes an effort to form a community around yourself, and, at times, it may feel one-sided. Remember the benefits of having that community, though, and push through the uncomfortable moments to make one. If reaching out to people isn’t a natural tendency for you, set a schedule on when to get in touch with your people, and force yourself to stick with it. Life is short and people get sick, so don’t take for granted the time you have to connect with the people you care about. Most importantly, if you’re still able, call your grandparents.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.