COLUMN: Ask Ashley

This week I found myself mindlessly scrolling through social media and I came across a post reflecting on the year since the pandemic started. The post summed up the year from contactless interactions with friends and loved ones, to endless Zoom calls and working from home, to completely adapting to a new reality. 

As I was reading the post I thought about all the interactions I’ve had this past year to stay connected with friends, family and peers during this unusual time. I’ve learned some things about communicating effectively and sincerely with the lack of face to face interaction, the main point being we need to avoid asking the question we all seem to dread lately: How are you doing? It’s evident this hasn’t been an ideal year for anyone. We’ve struggled mentally, emotionally, physically and financially so it’s not always so easy to answer when someone asks how you’re doing.

So instead, I’ll suggest some ways to strike up conversations with your friends that will allow you to check in on them without explicitly asking them how they’re doing. I hope this can be useful to you and if not, it serves as a good reminder to be mindful of the questions we ask one another during these times and to give everyone a little extra grace and space. 

Let’s begin. For your good pal that constantly has their AirPods in, there’s an ample amount of ways to check-in. You can send them a link to a playlist, send them a song that reminds you of them, or if you’re feeling creative, create a playlist for them including both of your favorite songs. Music is a great way to communicate and connect with those around us by not having to say much. Just simply send a link and they’ll know you thought of them. 

Going along with the theme of sending songs you can also do the same with television shows, movies and documentaries. Not only is staying in and watching movies a pandemic-friendly option on a Friday night, but it’s also a way to escape your current reality and head into a new experience for a moment in time. Additionally, you could watch a show with your friend or family member together over a streaming service’s watch party. 

Another great way to ask someone how they are doing is by asking a different targeted question that is less intimidating to answer. For example, you could ask them something about a class you know they’re taking. This way you’re able to check-in with your friend, family member or peer but it’s not as daunting for them to answer. 

However, there’s still a way to show support towards them without even asking a question. You can simply let them know you miss them and want to chat. My favorite thing is to personalize these messages to my friends with a quote graphic design that will hopefully make my friend smile. When I scroll through social media and come across jokes, pieces of art, poems or literally anything that reminds me of my loved ones I’ll save it to send to them so they know I am thinking of them. 

As we reflect on living through the pandemic for a year now, let’s not forget to check in on our friends, family, and peers. It’s not always easy to answer how we’re doing but I believe the ways I offered to check up with your people will make them feel noticed and cared about. We all need a little morale boost every now and then.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.

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