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Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Purpose of Others in Your Life

If you really think about it, how many people have come in and out of your life?  More than you can count, right?  I know that's the case for me.  As I look back on my life, I actually don't find it all that difficult to remember the majority of the people who have been a part of my life in one way or another.  Of course, I do have a "rainman" kind of memory.  But, that's beside the point.  It is, however, part of the reason why I love this saying - 

A large part of this journey for me has been learning how to let go of all the things in my past that have brought me down for various reasons.  While we may not always want to admit it, there are people out there who will find the need to use you.  Unfortunately, you don't always figure out who those people are until they've already gotten what they want out of you.  I know I have experienced this more than once in my life.  And, for the longest time, I thought I was the person that people just kept around for awhile until I wasn't useful to them anymore.  As I've taken the time  to reflect on all of those situations, people, etc., I now realize all the lessons I learned throughout those time periods in my life.

I think people who test you can have both a positive and negative effect.  At least in my case, they aren't the type of people you necessarily want to have in your life forever.  But, in a way, they can teach you some of the most important lessons you'll ever learn about yourself.  And others. 

The people who teach you.  Wow. Not just your teachers in school.  Your parents, your siblings, your friends, your co-workers, the nice person who greets you with a smile when you walk in a store no matter how crummy of a day they might be having and so much more.  I am a firm believer that every single person you come into contact with teaches you something in one way or another.  Chances are, you won't even realize what they've taught you until much later.  Like me, you'll think back or reflect on your life and then say, 'I didn't realize until right now how much I learned from that moment'.  I've said that to myself more times than I can count as I've reflected on countless encounters with people and learned more lessons than I ever thought possible from my past.

"....But most important are the ones that bring out the best in you. 
Those are the ones worth keeping around."

This is the part of this quote that I fall in love with every time I see it.  Until the last year, I'm not sure I ever truly understood what it feels like to have people around you that bring out the best in you.  And how important it is to have them around and in your life on a regular basis.  

My family - While they have always been there for me - in more ways than I can ever list - I rarely let them get close enough to bring out the good things in me.  I often kept enough distance to protect myself from what I often assumed would be people letting me down or not needing me around for very long.  

Now, I realize I was doing that to protect myself.  I had been hurt so much and so often by so many people that I didn't want to let anyone get too close.  While I still work my way through this on a regular basis, I am here to tell you that it's worth it to let people get close to you.  Honestly, if someone had said that to me a year and a half ago, I would have just nodded my head and said, 'okay' and gone on with my life the way I was living it.  Now, I know I've missed out on so much and I am determined to make up for as much of it as I can.  No matter how long it takes me to get comfortable with it all!  My family will always be by side and I can't begin to say how amazing that feels.

Kim, Mere, Erica, Gretchen (and others I'm sure I am forgetting) - you stuck by me when I didn't really deserve it.  I was trying to alienate people for reasons I still haven't completely figured out.  But, I know it wasn't healthy.  And I am beyond thankful for all of you who listened to me, gave me space when I needed it, comforted me, and just for being incredible friends.  You all are "the ones worth keeping around".  And I look forward to a lifelong friendship with each of you :) You are worth keeping around in more ways than I could ever list.

I can't imagine where I would be without my friendship with Renee'.  I've come to believe that people are brought into your life when you are ready for all the wonderful things they have to offer to you.  And to learn the lessons they will teach you.  She constantly pushes me and, somehow, gives me the confidence to believe I can do so much more than I give myself credit for.  I think it's because I finally allowed her to break through that barrier I had put up around myself.  Well, and she took the time and energy to break it down.  There aren't a lot of people out there who could see through all the pain in my eyes and know that I have a lot to offer the world.  Our friendship is one of those rare gifts in life.  Many people are lucky enough to find that kind of friendship earlier in life.  Apparently, it just wasn't meant to happen that way for me.  And, I used to be bitter about that.  Now, I realize that the right person for that kind of friendship just hadn't entered my life yet.  We can go for days without talking, and then have a conversation about anything and everything for who knows how long.  She is definitely one of the ones worth keeping around.  And she brings out the best in me - all the time - even when she gets out those big colorful balls just so she can laugh with me while I fall over.  

Every person you meet is meant to enter your life for one reason or another.  You may not understand why right now but, in the end, it will all make sense.  Making sense of everything is a long process.  But, it's what makes life worth living.  Finally, I get it.  And I think the smile on my face proves it.