How to Deepen Relationships, Make Meaningful Connections, and Feel Less Alone While in Quarantine

My motto during this quarantine time of encouraging social isolation is inspired by Christopher McCandless’s (Into the Wild) realization after living in social isolation for 114 days: "Happiness is only real when shared." As we struggle at home through the anxieties that life in quarantine may present us, Anna Draper’s sentiment in Mad Men also strikes a chord: "The only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone." Despite this temporary period of “social isolation” we are all going through, we are actually experiencing an unprecedented reign of global social solidarity and togetherness. I’m often reminded that loneliness kills. Compassion saves lives. So please remember, no matter what you’re going through right now, you are far from being alone. We can use this opportunity to check in on one another, build new relationships, and strengthen existing ones in spite of physical social distancing. While we are together alone, here is a list of “Big Talk” questions we can ask our quarantine buddies at home/while on a walk – or friends, family, lovers, classmates, and co-workers over video calls (perhaps people we haven’t caught up with, in a while) to help us remain hopeful, connected, reflective, and strong: • What are you looking forward to? What are you going to do with your freedom after quarantine that is different than what you were doing before? • What have you started but never finished, and why? What curiosities can you explore from the comfort and safety of your home? What’s something you have always wanted to try that now would be a good time to try? • How can you care for others right now? Who in this world do you love most and what are you doing about it? • What gives you hope? What does this world need more of? How can you help? • Where do you find peace? What little things in life do you take the time to stop and appreciate? • What have you witnessed that has strengthened your faith in humanity? • What is your greatest strength? • What do you fight for? So far, the only known model to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is serious social distancing. But, humans are meant to be social. So, here are ideas that have worked for me that might work for you to help you continue to deepen and diversify your relationships – to become more socially involved while isolated: • Writing/illustrating hand-written cards and letters to loved ones and friends far away (or even in your own city since you can’t see them in person). • Hosting virtual happy hours and parties, whether brunches with your best friend group or coworkers. • Calling an old mentor or teacher and soaking in life wisdom. • Talking and engaging with local people in your neighborhood and essential workers you do come into contact with; I asked my cashier at Chick-fil-A what’s keeping her going, and she broke out into a big smile and showed me her best dance moves – the highlight of my day. I struck up a conversation with my mail woman and we talked about our families. I bonded with my Uber driver over music, and he said our conversation inspired him to take up the piano. • Sometimes, cuddling next to and laughing with your quarantine circle – I love sitting in bed and watching comedy/funny memes with my sister and laughing our ears off. • Cooking new meals with friends and family and delivering treats to neighbors and friends. (The other night we made home-made Chinese dumplings, and I see my friends post the yummiest meals on social media). My mom's friend dropped off her homemade chocolate bread and olive bread the other evening. • Painting and making art – My friends in Australia and I have a Facebook group where we share a new watercolor piece each week. It keeps us motivated. • Taking lots of walks/bike rides/rollerblading/skateboarding. – Six feet apart or with your quarantine buddies or alone to clear your head or call a faraway friend/family member. • Singing and playing piano and the guitar – My dad and I sang Karaoke songs from the ‘60s… and early 2000s the other night and had a blast. I’ve found that taking part in these activities has shown me that we don’t need a lot of material things when it comes down to it – We just need each other! Regardless of race, socio-economic status, workplace hierarchy, geography, religion – we are all going through this unprecedented time together, experiencing similar life changes, and likely sharing common feelings. We have the same fears, concerns, coping mechanisms, and joys. Perhaps the kindest thing we can do right now is radiate hope, humor, inspiration, and compassion towards each other, and continue to strengthen our social solidarity and knowledge so that we can prepare for whatever comes next. Kalina Silverman is the creator of Big Talk, an initiative aimed at skipping small talk to ask deep questions and make more meaningful life connections. Big Talk has since grown into a global movement that includes a YouTube video series, Amazon exclusives card game, diverse educational programs, and events around the world from Australia to Singapore to Uzbekistan. Kalina is from Santa Monica. She received a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern University. In 2017-'18, she lived in Singapore as a Fulbright Scholar sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Institute of International Education researching ways to use Big Talk to build empathy across cultures. Kalina's TEDx talk has over six million views on YouTube. Learn more at

By Kalina Silverman


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