It’s not particularly novel to feel reflective at a major turning point, but this thought has been tumbling around my head the past few weeks and it’s time to give it proper dues: I have been so damn fortunate, in every stage of my life, in the people that I have met, befriended, lived, learned, explored, worked, fought, and crossed boundaries with.
For every great experience I have had, it almost always comes down to the people.
It’s true. I’m one of the lucky ones. Blessed with one of those families that was built on a rock solid foundation of mutual love, respect and belonging. I didn’t start to realize how rare that was until high school and it really does change everything. It is the best and most precious gift I’ve ever been given.
I’ve always made friends pretty easily. One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is how to let people go and that it’s natural to outgrow some friendships. My very best friend growing up was three years younger than me and lived two houses down the street. During the summer we used to be out the door by 7am, ready and raring to go. We both had crazy active imaginations and would have fun dressing up and inventing games, pretending to be everything from wild animals to rock stars. We’d write stories, choreograph songs, have snack time and adventure time. Scrape knees, climb trees, build forts…we did it all. In seventh grade when I realized we were growing apart, it broke my heart. We were everything until we weren’t, but looking back on it, I know I was touched by a beautiful kind of magic.
Some of my closest friendships to this day are with people I bonded with in high school. The cross country team, my crazy band of misfits, gifted me with five deliriously special people that I’ve now been friends with for almost half of my life. And I had one of the greatest summers of my life so far with my other girl gang and while I don’t talk to most of them anymore, one of them is basically the sister of my heart, no matter how long we go between seeing each other.
If I could relive a year of my life, it would be my freshman year of college and the reason is squarely on the shoulders of the ridiculous and amazing people that I exploded into being with that year. Such a huge year of becoming. From a handful of certain classmates to the crazies that I dormed with, I cannot imagine a more perfect year with more perfect people. It wasn’t without its challenges, but every day I woke up on fire. So damn excited to see what else was in store. I only keep in touch with a handful of those people now, but they’ve all touched my soul.
My year of grad school gifted me with an interesting mix of people. I am so glad I walked toward and not away from that rambunctious group of weirdos blocking the hallway. Over four years later, my life has never been the same.
After graduation, I had a somewhat unique year of retail experience largely working with my friends and a great team of people. I actually learned a lot during this year, even though I was pretty depressed about how long it took me to find a “real” job, and it was largely in part to the new people I met.
And then comes Manzella, the heart of why I was inspired to write this post. For the past three years I worked at a marketing agency as a project manager. I won’t lie to you, it was not my favorite experience. But damn did I learn and grow personally and professionally in ways I couldn’t imagine. I was given unusual opportunities and earned the respect of great people. I worked with executives at major companies and contributed to a team of truly impressive creative people who I’m fortunate to also call friends. I gained so much; a mentor and a friend that I hope will be a part of my life forever; an exceptional, open-minded boss who trusted me implicitly and wants me to succeed, even if I have to leave; a creative director who gave me room to grow and learn to manage, and also took an active interest in me as a person; account executives that considered me a surrogate daughter. And more. So much more. I am so damn grateful for having had this experience. It was often uncomfortable. I knew it would be when I started. But I had no idea how much these people would come to mean to me or the impact they would have on my life and it’s something I don’t ever want to take for granted. I wouldn’t be moving forward without them.
So, if you’re one of the good ones (and I believe you are), thank you. Thank you for pushing me, pulling me, raising me, berating me, changing me, growing me, loving me and quite simply being with me. It has made a world of difference.
To quote Wicked:
I do believe I have been changed for the better, and, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.
As I start this new chapter, I’m excited about the people I’ll meet and the new friends I’ll make. Who will change my life? Will I change theirs? I hope this is an overwhelming season of becoming.