We live in ever-changing times and never more so as now. Just a few months ago, we were living in a world of time-famine, struggling to cope with the pressures from external factors and addiction to entertainment rather than education. 

Then the pandemic hit which forced me (like everyone else) to reset. Go straight home without passing go (unless one needed toilet paper), staying inside, stripped back to the basics, and left to evaluate my life – things, people, opportunities – basically anything I thought made me happy.

Not only has this year forced me to spring clean my life, it also forced me to frequent social media, hold meetings over Zoom and connect to people virtually rather than in person. For the most part, the people who I’m frequently in touch with are people I know.

The social networks often blamed for the lack of human connection and today, what is keeping us closer. They are showing us what social really means and how much our tribes truly contribute to our lives.

There is someone I haven’t met in person who is now on speed-dial! Louise (the founder of not-for-profit Friend in Me) and I met in late 2019 through a Facebook group and it’s fairly safe to say (from my viewpoint, anyway) we hit it off immediately. How couldn’t we? Louise is determined to make a difference in the world, has a sense of humour as warped as mine and uses the “lobsided crying with laughter” emoji as much as I do.

Is a virtual friendship different from one in person? Not to me provided my friends can offer a caring, giving relationship, are trustworthy and kind, and our willing to support each other.

With Louise, all these are true. Not only did 2020 force me inside for months because of my compromised immune system but my grandfather also passed away and he was my best friend. Throughout it all, Louise made me laugh, gave me focus and… gave me donuts (left at my front door as she lives interstate) and an UBEReats voucher. What she gifted isn’t actually important, it’s the thought behind it.

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia but I often celebrate those in my life who have the most impact. Louise is one of them and if it wasn’t for the Coronavirus, I don’t know if our friendship would be as strong. The moments of communication, whether virtual or in person, are where life is lived. They are still the moments, the people, the memories that make life worth living; that make life beautiful.

Say it, don’t just think it. The next time you see a person who matters, take the time to tell them why they matter and all the things you love and respect them for. Too often, we think these things and take it all for granted. Pick up the phone, go to their house, send them a letter, what ever it takes. Just take the time to remind someone they are loved and what makes them special.

Quite simply I cannot even imagine where I would be if it weren’t for Louise, who has given me a heart full of joy, supported me when I needed it and given me fresh perspective to challenge another day.

You’re one in a million Lou, thank you and here’s to the future.