You’ve probably heard that we are who we are because of the life we’ve lived. The things that happen in our youth help shape who we come as adults. Those opinions we form in our impressionable teen years influence our lives decades later. Even things that happen in our adulthood can impact us a little…or a lot. That’s life! It’s always giving us opportunities to grow.
What I find important to acknowledge, though, is that it’s not just what happens in our lives. We are also who we are because of who happens to be in our lives.
I’ve mentioned before how incredible my friends are. And it’s true. I have people in my life who pray for me, send me Reiki, think positive thoughts, send good vibes, or just roll their eyes. They all help. They all mold me and hold me up and encourage me. They help me not take myself too seriously. They laugh with me, cry with me, hug me, and nudge me forward. My friends are incredible people. But it’s not just them. I have family, co-workers, people I see sometimes or haven’t in years – all that have a place in my life, all that make me who I am.
Mr. G said in fourth grade that everyone we meet teaches us something – a way to be or not to be. I’ve probably mentioned that before, because I think of it often. There’s this one guy at work. Whenever I ask him, “How are you today?” he’s ready with a different adjective every time – jubilant, thoughtful, acceptable, playful. I think he’s so clever and want to incorporate that into my personality. My interactions with him are always positive and welcome. Or when a customer at the grocery store is rude to the cashier, I think there’s no excuse for treating other people like that, even if I’m tired or frustrated or having a bad day. Everyone can serve as a reminder of how to be or not be.
Mr. G and I aren’t just talking about little chance encounters with people, though. At least I don’t think he was. I think we can delve deeper. Ten months of interacting with him when I was ten years old has remained with me for decades. And you can probably think back to teachers, coaches, bus drivers, pastors, baby sitters, and other people you spent time with in your childhood who’s lessons became a part of who you are today. Sadly, like me (I had another teacher who gave me a book about improving my metabolism so that I could lose weight when I was eleven years old), you can probably also name a few trusted individuals who’s statements cut deep and took a long time to heal…or maybe they haven’t yet. Either way, though, it’s hard to argue that the people who were in our lives then help shape who we are today.
And it doesn’t stop there. It goes further back than school and comes right up to the present company we keep.
Parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins…they certainly had a say in who we started out as and how our personalities formed. You even hear people comment on how you’re smart like your mother or a smart aleck like your dad! Many of the stories I have from childhood family gatherings involve vague details, but even more than that, a feeling of some sort. Warmth from the love of family. Anxiety and excitement as my cousins and I tried to get away with something. Those memories and feelings have stuck with me all these years because they are my core.
That core spirit that started forming early on, has grown wrapped in all those experiences that created me. And it still grows as I do. As I interact with more people, learn more about who I am now as an adult, a wife, a mother. As my understanding of my feelings matures, who I am blossoms fuller. And those in my life now – you – are the sunshine and water that help me grow even more.
I clearly have a husband who cares for me – not just about me, but for me too. I have children who adore me each in their own way. I have co-workers that cherish interactions and take the time to connect with me. And I have those friends who wrap me in their arms each time we say hello and good-bye. These people do reflect back to me some of what I try to show them. More than that, though, all of these people love and bless me in ways I can’t imagine putting words to.
People are part of our everything. The way we treat each other, react to each other…those are the experiences that make us. And I’m so thankful that in my life, the blessings that exist in the people around me far outweigh the people who have injured me in any way. I hope you can look around and say the same. If not, though, work toward that goal. Don’t just be a blessing to others…surround yourself with those who bless you.
Blessings like kids who keep it real by reminding you of the life lessons you’ve taught them. Blessings like co-workers who take the time to ask if they can help you. Blessings like friends who invite you for coffee. Blessings like family who make your favorite desserts. Blessings like those who support you. Blessings like you.