Relationships. They can make us, and they can break us. I find this is particularly true during phases of uncertainty and personal growth. These phases tend to bring self-doubt, internal monologues that challenge you at your core, and just general growing pains. So, the relationships you choose to foster during these moments are pivotal.
I have recently been experiencing one of these moments of change. It’s been exactly two months since I was last able to sit down, decompress, reassess, and write about life – mainly due to a hectic teaching and traveling schedule. Yet, in the midst of all of this, I have attempted to be present and deliberate in my choices. One of these has been to focus on the people currently in my life that complement my journey and push me to think bigger, be better, and smile brighter.
I have always loved to engage with others. Connecting fills me with immense joy (which is probably why I am most content when teaching and sharing stories). The ability to use the right words to express ideas – and to listen to how others interpret their world – is a beautiful part of being alive. Yet, the older I get, the more I realize it’s hard to find the right people at the right time to share the randomness of life. As my favorite movie quote says, “I guess when you’re young, you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you’ll connect with. Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times.” (Thanks, Celine.)
Why connecting happens less and less is a great question – it might have something to do with the speed with which life moves the older you get, making it difficult to branch out and connect with others passing through the world at the same time as you. Plus, there’s always the fact that you grow out of certain relationships, but lack the time to foster new ones. You know, responsibilities and all that jazz.
That is why it’s important to cultivate relationships when you do find those with whom you connect. I’m very grateful that my thirty-fourth rotation around the sun has introduced me to a handful of unique and amazing people who share a passion for similar things and are also going through the grueling PhD process. Finding these humans (out of the billions of others also passing by the world) has been incredibly special and re-energizing. I get to share, listen, laugh, learn, smile, and even vent. And, thanks to technology, space and time are not a factor impeding some of these relationships from growing organically.
And, of course, there are those who’ve been a part of my life for much longer. These connections have also served as an anchor, both in person and on the other side of the screen. Yet, regardless of them being old or new people in my life, the important thing is that deliberately fostering these relationships has been instrumental in keeping me centered and bringing me joy during these busy months. Without them, it’s easy to lose perspective.
If you have the pleasure of finding beautiful souls you connect with, don’t let go of them. They are special. Invest your time and energy in fostering these relationships into something beautiful. Cherish those who challenge you, who make you feel alive, who complement you in different ways, and whose energies make you strive for joy and happiness. Cultivate these connections, and savor each moment. Doing so has made my short time here that much more meaningful, and I don’t intend on stopping anytime soon.