Back when I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy (like in season 1), I fell in love with the idea of finding your “person” being someone other than your significant other.
That your person is the one that you need around to tell you that your haircut doesn’t make your face look thinner, that yes, you are prettier than his new girlfriend, that there are no calories in chocolate, and that actually, yea those jeans do make your butt look fat. Our friends are our people. The ones that tell it like it is, help you up when you’re down, cheer for you when you need them to, and are always around to reply to a text, whether it’s really important or just important to you.
I never had trouble making friends in high school. I wasn’t popular, per se, but in a small town high school where everyone knew everyone (and your dad was the principal), I had a lot of friends. Some of them that I’m lucky enough to still be close to today. Those friends are the best and will always be there in a pinch. But they might no longer be your person as an adult.
College was a little harder on the friend front. There were those people that were thrust upon you (roommates and floormates), and some of them will become your closest confidants if you’re lucky. But then there are those that you have to seek out. Working with college students every day, I tell them that the most important thing you need to find in your first semester are your kind of people. Find those who share your passions, because those are the people that will make your college experience rich.
But once you’ve moved on after graduation, they might no longer be your people either.
See, I’ve found that as an adult, friends are hard. I’ve moved 3 times since college, to 3 very different places. Each time I moved, I only really knew one person in the place I was moving. And while that person was essential to the move in the first place, they weren’t meant to be my person at the time.
However, in each of those 3 places I moved, I have found that person that I needed. The one I didn’t know was exactly the person I needed. Now, don’t make this dirty, I’m strictly talking about friends here. I managed to find the person (in one case, people), that made that place, that situation, that life moment, poignant. And this isn’t to discount the many other amazing people that I’ve been lucky enough to be friends with along the way. But without these four women, I wouldn’t be the woman that I am right now.
My first move out of college was to Chicago. I felt a deep need to teach in a city public school, to help where I thought I was needed most. But as a small town girl, to say I was in over my head was a massive understatement. I loved my kids, and I loved knowing I was making a difference in their lives. But it was hard. Every day was a struggle in its own way. There were a lot of people who helped me through, who popped in and pushed me through. But without the woman who would become my best friend in those six years, I’m not sure I would have made it even that long. She got me more involved with the students and the school, and was someone I could hang out with outside of school. Suddenly I had a life again, I got out of my apartment, I had someone I could talk to, laugh with, cry with. And since leaving there in 2008, I miss her terribly. To be fair, she warned me when I moved that she was terrible at keeping in touch. But I love her anyway.
My next move was actually back to Penn State to go to graduate school, at 29 years old. Starting a program with students right out of college when I was pushing 30 was scary in itself. I very often felt old and out of touch. But I was lucky enough to have 2 women in that program that got me. That still get me. Without those two, I’m pretty sure there were days when I could have given up. But they were placed in my life to help me keep putting one foot in front of the other. They showed me that just being me was enough, and through talking to them, I learned so much about myself. I became so much better for knowing them. And the two of them are such amazing women, that I get to enjoy being their cheerleader as well.
It took a lot longer to find my person when I moved here to Kentucky. Of course, I already had my main person, my husband. I fell in love while I was in graduate school with a man who was 3 states away and moved here after graduation with my heart but no job.
And building our relationship took priority. But a woman needs her girlfriends, and after our wedding, I realized how important it was that I find someone that I could talk to besides him.
I definitely met people along the way, and actually worked with my person here for a while before I realized she was my person. Little did I know, she’d become the most valuable of all. When I experienced my miscarriage in 2013, she was there to help me process it and move forward, to figure out how to move on. Because she’d been there, too. I can’t count how many times we cried in an office together, but knowing that I wasn’t alone was the most valuable thing I could have learned at that time.
When I was pregnant with Addie, she let me whine and complain and panic (and yes, cry) over every little thing. She understood the fear that only someone who has had a miscarriage can feel when they get pregnant again, and I needed that person to let me know it was ok to always be a little worried. Then when Addie was born, she was always there to hear me gush over her and agree with me that she was an absolutely perfect baby. This past year, I got to help her through her pregnancy in the same way, and then watch her experience the arrival of her little guy (who is also an absolutely perfect baby). I feel extremely lucky that I now get to have her as my mom friend. Because there’s no one I would rather obsess over our (perfect) babies with than her.
You find your person when you need them most.
Even if they come from the most unexpected of places. I’m so thankful for those women who have entered my life at the exact right time, and I hope above all else that I’ve been able to be to them what they are for me.