Year after year I interact with hundreds of people. These interactions may be minute or impactful depending on that moment in my life. Since I can remember, I began documenting each interaction either through writing, excessive thought, or through developing a relationship. Some of those relationships have lasted over ten years while others lasted as little as twenty minutes. No matter how long the interaction/relationship, I am grateful for meeting every single person in my life.
I firmly believe that every person with whom we interact is meant to teach us something. I have met many people through networking events that I haven’t spoken to in years and I still remember at least one lesson I learned from them.
For example, I met a woman at an event almost six years ago, now. Her name slips my mind, but I distinctly recall her telling me to take chances in this life. “Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them, otherwise you won’t last five minutes after college.”
Sure that may seem like a common lesson, but it was more than the words she spoke to me. She went out of her way to provide advice to a young college student EAGER to soak up as much knowledge from established working adults as possible. I chose to ask the question, “What advice can you give a woman trying to leave her mark in this world?” She chose to answer it. Her advice, has since, stuck with me and forever will.
Now, there are interactions or relationships that prove to be less satisfying. I consider friendships from high school that have been lost, or even relationships from college that are far from what they were or could have been. No matter how difficult the ending or how painful the interaction became, I learned something from those people.
One person, who shall remain nameless because their name does not matter, used to be one of my best friends. She and I were inseparable, had plans to be each other’s bridesmaids, and even expected to be neighbors one day with our kids playing together regularly. Looking back at those days… I was happy, eager for our future as friends, and thrilled to be a part of each other’s lives. Of course, adversity arrives and things slowly begin to change.
Adversity comes in many disguises, and it is only ourselves that can determine what disguise will negatively influence our life. In high school, I would see adversity differently than I did in college. The same goes for how I view adversity, today. A disloyal friend may not have been as big of a deal 10 years ago compared to now. Either way, our perceptions change, which impact our decisions.
In the case of my old friend, boys came between us. Oh those pesky boys! The details of our “friendship” are not necessary, but I will say that our interaction was not entirely a bust. There was a time when everything was great. There was also a time when things weren’t so great. I took MANY lessons from both the good times and the bad. Looking back, I am happy things ended the way they did. I gained a new perspective, learned more about myself, and changed my approach to friendship.
So, where am I going with all of this? To put it all simply, I wanted to remind you all to be grateful for every encounter you have with people. Sure, some of those encounters may not turn out for the better, but they mean something in the grand scheme of things. The good and bad interactions we have mold us into the people we are today.
I am not a believer in the common phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” I believe whatever happens in our life is just crap that happens and how we react to that “crap” determines who we are and who we will become. Take every interaction/relationship for what they are worth. Be grateful for every person you meet in this life. You never know who will impact you in the most precious of ways.