Today I am sort of merging two prompts because I liked them both and as I wrestled with which to choose today, I realized how closely related they are. The first is December 2nd’s prompt from Kaileen Elise‘s fabulous list of ‘mini-musings’ and the second is from the blog, Mermaid Eyes, which I found via Twitter using the #reverb11 hashtag.
Who did you meet in 2011?
What fueled you in 2011? What fortified you and gave you strength? What got you through the hard times?
2011 was a year of new people; new friends, new professional connections, new partners in crime. I hope every year of my life can be as rich with new relationships.
I met someone who could probably be my polar opposite, except we both love coffee, NPR, apologizing, and craft beer. Oh, and each other. We love each other, so that counts for something.
I met several dozens of families who had lost everything in a tornado and were looking to me to help put pieces back together.
I met like-minded public health professionals in steamy Atlanta in July reminded me how fulfilling it is for me to do work that serves a greater good and it refreshed me to keep fighting the good fight.
And nothing brings people together like the
misery journey of 26.2 miles. Out there on the course, I had nothin’ to do but run and tell stories. In the back of the race, maybe the last 8 miles, I developed a sort of kinship with a group of about 20 runners as we leap-frogged one another all the way to the finish line. There was a young woman from the East Coast running a marathon in every state of the union in memory of her dad, two middle-aged women running with WorldVision to serve a purpose greater than their own, a man who had recently lost 200 pounds, and another man who recently celebrated his 78th birthday.
And the reason this is related to my fuel for 2011? People fuel me. I am everything everyone stereotypes about extroverted people. I speak incessantly at a loud volume. I interrupt myself. I interrupt others. I tell big, long stories. I laugh a lot. My thoughts are flighty and disorganized, at best. I want to know what people are thinking and doing, I want people to tell me about themselves.
I once read an article about how the world should be more accepting and open to introverts because they can seem aloof and distant. I can certainly agree with the article’s author, that introversion is not a choice or a lifestyle, it’s an innate orientation. But, I guess I can’t agree that this is an “extrovert’s world,” because I would argue that it can be just as hard to be an extrovert.
Did you know there are books and articles and blogs about ‘dealing with’ the extrovert in your life?
I don’t want to be dealt with. I want to be loved, loud and chatty and all.
So I say that people fuel me because nothing inspires me or motivates me or picks me up more than interacting with people. It’s almost hard to describe. It’s not always the words someone says, it’s more that they found a way to connect to me and communicate with me. I need that. It’s a life source.
I needed co-workers that supported my growth in my career and continued to support me after I was laid off. They have fueled me to keep looking to do something that I will love.
I needed the texts, the tweets, the Facebook messages, and the emails wishing me luck during my marathon training and on the morning of race day.
I needed my family and friends to be sprinkled throughout the Cities to cheer me across the coolest finish line ever.
I needed monthly Happy Hours with my classmates from the UMN School of Public Health.
I needed 72 hours in the wilderness with someone who I have asked a lot from this year, and even asked a lot from on that trip. For the record, I now know what love looks like: opening the tent to see your girlfriend sobbing in the woods with a roll of toilet paper and a headlamp and escorting her to the latrine because she is too scared to go alone. Without laughing… too hard.
I needed phone calls that were ‘just to check in’ and turned into hours of sharing my worries and fears. I needed the ‘let’s go to coffee’s. I needed to go to aerobics class with my grandma.
I am so happy to have met so many new people this year and to continue to have happy and healthy relationships with the people I have known for years. Whether it’s a 20 minute conversation around Mile 22, or sharing high school stories, or talking about the embarrassing things I did as a child, I needed people this year. And I was blessed a thousand times over with some of the best.
Thank you, friends. And family. And cashiers. And chatty people on the bus. And nice people in line at the grocery store. And the shoe-shine guy in the skyway. And my physical therapist. And waiters and waitresses. And my hairstylist.
You can read more about my battle with being extroverted and why I love it anyway in this post from last year’s Reverb project.