Growing up, I was always surrounded by friends and family. From a very young age, I remember our house was filled with guests (invited and uninvited) at all times of the day. From grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, family friends and new friends, our house was always bustling with people. Ask anyone, it was constantly loud and obnoxious but always a fun time at the Garcia household.

My parents always wanted my brother and me to have what they’ve labeled as “lifelong friends.” Both my Mom and Dad moved a lot when they were younger so they understood the importance of planting roots in one place, and that’s exactly what we did. I never really grasped why they placed such an emphasis on this until it was time for me to go away to college. I didn’t leave my hometown of Glen Cove, N.Y., until it was time for me to head to Quinnipiac University for four years of undergraduate studies. Here is where I got my first glimpse of how important my family and friends were to me. To say I was homesick that first year of college is a drastic understatement. There were lots of tears and constant Skype and phone calls with anyone who was willing to listen to me complain about how much I missed everyone. I relied so heavily on my family and friends during those first two semesters that I know I wouldn’t have made it through that time without them.

Fast forward to a few months ago when COVID-19 began, and our lives were flipped upside down. Yet again, my friends and family all showed up for me with constant text messages, phone calls and video chats than I ever thought possible. During this daunting time, I can say that all of these relationships helped me manage the stress and uncertainty that we have all been experiencing. Instead of Skype, Zoom hangouts and happy hours became a weekly and sometimes daily occurrence for me. I can without a doubt say that all of these friendships and relationships strengthened and flourished over the past few months we’ve been in quarantine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As we slowly but surely move back to our “new normal,” I am forever grateful and appreciative of my support system. All of my family members (especially my parents and brother) along with my amazing group of friends have shown me that a global pandemic can open your eyes to the more important things in life. Most of these people have known me for all of my life, while some have more recently entered into my world. Either way, I’m ready to get back out there and celebrate all the milestones we’ve missed and more importantly, celebrate the meaning and significance of lifelong friends.

Victoria Garcia
Senior Associate Editor
[email protected]