There’s always a little voice inside my head that questions whether I’m good enough. As I’ve gotten older (please note, I did not say “matured”), it occurs to me that I’ve got to get on the stick and kick this hefty can down the road and out of sight. It’s rusty, dented and contains so much stuff that I will likely never resolve, so I might as well get rid of it. Besides, I like the look of this guy…
It feels so defiant to say ‘take me as I am’. So risky. At least for me. Of course it also suggests that I am completely sure who I am – and I guess that is sort of a work-in-progress exercise. I’ve never been an either/or person, the world to me is so resplendent with colors and shadings that absolutes are the bigger challenge (one exception – the words of one of my first bosses “Today, you have full authority to do the right thing” – I try to remember that daily. Other than that, all bets are off).
So despite my continued lack of personal clarity, I marvel at my friends who love me in spite of myself. Jo and I go months without seeing each other and literally pick up conversations mid-sentence. When we finally saw each other Friday night, all Andy could do was shake his head with a smile and say “I totally get it”. I know her eyes, can see what they’re telling me; I can tell by what she doesn’t say, exactly what she wants to say. This friendship from childhood provides a secure knowledge and confidence that the elemental aspects of who I am is understood on the most intrinsic level. Whether or not you are sure, someone with a historic reference is sure I’m more than ok. The joy of rediscovery.
The prism through which friendship is viewed, can be seen from a different perspective with new friends. Carrie, Donna, Lori, Rhonda…I have been blessed with these women through serendipity (waiting for a manicure, Andy’s bowling team and through our blogs respectively). As Carrie and I spoke yesterday over mediocre Greek salad (a nod to my Jenny Craig efforts – I am craving a milk shake about now), I realized how our friendship developed without pretense or guile – we passed those markers somewhere along the road and no longer have any patience for either. I have connected with women who are wise and strong, experienced and romantic, tender and tough enough to have withstood their share of challenges and pain. They don’t suffer fools, but they embrace you if you hurt. They hug hard (figuratively and literally) and protect fiercely. If I am defined in part by my newer friendships, I’m feelin’ pretty damn good. The joy of renewal.
The knowledge that I have gained from less-than-positive choices runs deep and is beginning to hurt less. Learning the difference between providing a service to someone v. sharing in a friendship is a tough lesson for me to absorb. This first year away from the firm has been painful in that regard. On the one hand I am surprised at myself – I know a little bit about human behavior, what drives office dynamics and what distinguishes mutual understanding – ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ – from friendship. I was unceremoniously dropped and the pain of landing on my butt was unexpected. A year later, I wish I had chosen to be the one who walked away. I certainly would have felt more graceful.
How cool to still have the time and luxury of finding me – if I choose to look – and to do so with the confidence that I may never know? Better still is the feeling that I can look around and find the best, most flattering definition I will ever seek. My friends.