How I fared…
Being asked by my editor to take longer lunch breaks and leave work earlier felt like a particularly easy assignment, but following these pointers sometimes took more willpower than I expected. I grew up in London and am naturally slightly shy, which meant I had to really force myself to speak to strangers, but after a few days, I relaxed into it. Striking up a conversation in Pret at 9am seemed almost as unappealing as being the one person on the Tube who wants to make friends, but having a chat in an empty café or bookshop was more pleasant than I expected. I particularly enjoyed talking to the man who runs the local Italian deli.
As for my actual friends – I’m so used to texting rather than calling that I had to check with them all before I rang. In every case, I’m so glad I did – from the university friend who made me laugh about his boss to my old flatmate who opened up about her marriage in a way I don’t think she would have over WhatsApp. Each time I hung up the phone, I felt slightly buoyed.
The same was true of having lunch with more of my colleagues, and interestingly, speaking to Waldinger over Zoom played a part in it. During our interview my doorbell rang, my husband interrupted and I had to pause to answer a call from my doctor. Waldinger couldn’t have been nicer and told me afterwards how much he had enjoyed himself – and I noticed that, for the rest of the day, I was in a better mood.