Let it go

I may have been super tempted to post the song from ‘Frozen’…but I figured I didn’t want my readers’ ears to bleed from hearing the over played song 🙂 also, my thoughts behind this phrase is a bit different than the situation that the character from ‘Frozen’, Elsa, was facing. It is in a way, about freedom but the confines are in my head and in my head alone. My head, my heart, my conscious and subconscious are held captive by self-imposed constructions within. As much as the confines are held up by me and me alone, it is also up to me to decide and to take action to tear these confines down. Context? Sure 🙂

Yesterday, I ran in the last race for the fall Frank Mac series here in Edmonton. It’s a series of trail runs that span from a 5-8ish km distance. Although I registered (very last minute decision) for the whole series, I was only able to make the first and final race, both of which started/finished in Hawlerak park. I was very apprehensive of running both races: I wasn’t and am not in the best running shape and these races are fast. Don’t let the relatively short distances fool you; there may be a lot of attention and admiration for the longer distances but short distances are a whole other beast. You go all out. Pace? Pft. Yes okay, a bit but more on pftttt side of things. You lay it all out. The people who participate in these races can be people just looking for a good time but there are also many elite runners and triathletes that come to play and compete too. I also knew that M would be there and with the girl I suspected was his new girlfriend. As mentioned before, my girl crazy comes out in being competitive for better or for worse. I refuse to have a really good look at this girl because I didn’t really want to know what she looked like or who she was. She was a painful reminder that whatever was between M and I was a thing of the past and had no bearing or relevance for the present or future. For my first race, I had the best time I’ve ever had; I had hoped to get under 5:00/km and got 4:53/km. I know, those numbers look really small lol and the difference seems incredible insubstantial but seconds count and add up to something a bit bigger. This race, well I wasn’t sure about it all still but again, didn’t really have time to mull over it because the race started, my legs started going and I crossed the start line and activated my timing chip; no turning back now. Funny thing is, M’s new gf and I were pretty much on pace with each other the entire time, especially for the last couple of kms. We took turns pacing each other and really pushed each other at the end. I barely eeked it out for a few seconds ahead but it turns out her time was a bit faster than mine when I looked online. It was at that moment where I couldn’t put her in a negative space because she seemed like a lovely human being and I enjoyed running with her and that push was awesome for both of us I think. I don’t know if she knew who I was but to be honest, it doesn’t matter who I was in M’s former life because that’s what it was: former, the past and no longer relevant to the present reality.

As I sat down at home after the race to get some nerding done but cracked open my prayer journal first. I realized that in my crazy, far farrrr crazy side of things where I thought that if I was patient, played harder, ran faster but really just waited, that M would return to me. Yes, I know, sounds crazy and it is a bit. It’s not so crazy because it’s far more along the lines of wishful thinking but because it’s so selfish. I realized that by desiring this outcome, he would have to endure at least one more break up and heart break to return to me. We spoke briefly earlier this fall before deciding that we couldn’t do that yet but from what I gather, he’s quite happy and I’m sure this lovely girl has something to do with that. This means that indeed a break up from his current relationship would hurt him significantly. If I truly cared about him as I claim to, how could I wish this upon him? The truth is, I cannot.

I have a ‘serenity prayer’ plaque that I think my mum/someone gave me for my baptism a few years ago that says: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage the change the things I can change and the wisdom to know the difference”. For those who know me, I am someone who goes all out when I’ve decided to commit to something but the downside to that is I don’t let go very easily. For a long time, it seems to me that I have placed the fate of M in my life in the category of things I can change when in reality, it is in the category of things I cannot change. The end of our relationship was not the result of infidelity, miscommunication, love that turned to loathing or character flaws that the other could not endure. It was because he had decided that there was no chance of God playing a role of in his life…ever and a by-product of that decision was the end of our relationship. Like anyone else’s choice to believe or not believe, it is a personal decision, one that cannot be decided upon by any external sources. External sources have the ability to influence but are not the decision-makers (thinking of my NGO class and government in these respective roles lol). I think a part of me has been wrongfully bearing the responsibility for this end thinking that hey, maybe if I tried harder, maybe if this or that, things wouldn’t have drawn to the painful close that it did. The thing about choice is that it carries the weight of responsibility when you do chose and in this case, this choice and ultimately, the responsibility, was M’s. I’m not trying to ‘blame’; there is no blame here. The results were a consequence of choices.

So truly, I should relieve myself of the burden I have been carrying and shed the mentality that has had such an impact on my present when it belongs in the past. I had let a false interpretation of past events have a foothold and negative impact into my present and subsequently into my future. Although I now know this, the next move is to actually accept it and by accepting it, it means that I must take action and move forward but in a constructive manner and one rooted in reality of what can be achieved and in what time frame. No, I’m not suddenly break free of my mental/metaphorical shackles (good image there eh? ;)). I have learnt quite a few things through this relationship and the aftermath of it all. The fact that I could actually be part of a relationship that was relatively functional and with someone that I just clicked with was something new and showed me that hey, it is possible despite my family’s past and personal reservations about relationships, love and commitment. It also showed me that as much as I loved M, I still loved God more. That even though I had honestly, one of the most compatible and loving men as my significant other, he couldn’t trump God. And that when it came down to it, God won out even though the cost was so high. I really thought that I had dropped the ball and failed Him (as in God) when I wasn’t the one who called it off. I thought that perhaps my faith wasn’t strong enough or I as a person, wasn’t strong enough. That when my bestie emailed me and told me she was proud of me for sticking to my guns, I thought it wasn’t warranted because I felt like I hadn’t. But it seems that I had actually taken action without realizing it and that the action M took was in response to this subconscious action I had taken: to value God first and to never let Him go, no matter how much I would have to give up. Because my fellow Christians and for those who prescribe to a certain belief, there will be a time when you are tested and when you question whether or not your beliefs are worth keeping in light of gaining something else. That in theory, yes your beliefs are greater but in practice, it can be very difficult to apply. That believing in God comes with a price and cost of its own and we are asked to pay it because the sacrifice that Jesus made was much greater and our gain through Him is also much greater. And it’s okay if we don’t realize it right away, agree with it right away or accept it or take action in response right away. It’s okay to have mixed feelings about these sort of situations or any situation for that matter. We’re human. We are dynamic. It’s a process; it really is. Don’t let anyone tell you what pace you need to be going at or where you should be at xyz. No, that’s completely up to you and up for debate with only one other person: God. So big hugs! my friend and here’s to hoping 🙂

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Faith Divide Aftermath

It’s been nearly nine months since M and I broke up. We had break up 2.0 near the end of March which was very difficult too. Needless to say, time hasn’t healed everything though I wish it did. Even though I’m seeing someone new, I can handle it because it’s for once, nothing very serious and I don’t see it going anywhere. Perhaps it’s easier that way because I still haven’t completely picked up the pieces from my last relationship and really do not have the capacity to try and be that close to someone yet.

My bestie sent me this article by Relevant Magazine about the difficulties/myths of interfaith marriages; in the case of this article, it was between a Christian and Muslim. The article was written by the child of these two people who are described to be great parents and truly in love with one another. But the difficulties that arise are very real and they were things that I and undoubtedly, M, thought about during our relationship which contributed towards our end. The article states and as mentioned in my previous entry, I’m not here to say that dating or even marrying a non-Christian is ‘bad’. That just seems too simple to label it as such but rather, that committing to someone who does’t share that same base as you makes a relationship even harder (because they’re obviously not hard enough). It was hard reading that article; I most definitely cried a bit because my bestie also wrote that she was proud of me for sticking to my guns, even though it cost a lot. It did. It cost so much. I’m still hurting from it. I think about the little ninja children we would’ve had: small in physical stature but probably athletic and smart, bouncing off the walls and doing crazy things. M would make a great Dad and I think between the two of us, would have made a pretty balanced set of parents. M would be there to help them with the math/technical side of things but has this amazing creative side that would encourage them to cultivate creativity and artistry. I would be the one to help them with their language arts and social studies, get them in touch with the outdoors and the community. They would have great grandparents and relatives, uncles and aunts to guide them. But then, for how long? My greatest fear was that we would eventually implode as we did in our dating relationship and get divorced but our kids would be in the mix. As a divorcee child, I know first hand the incredible impact this has on children even if the divorce is relatively amicable. How much harder would it be not to be with the man I still loved and the man that was the father of my children? To deal with the ‘logistics’ of things when going through such emotional turmoil? There’s a couple on Grey’s Anatomy that basically shared the same dynamic as M and I. And though in some crazy TV drama way they end up together married, the show does draw out the difficult discussions that come up, those crazy fights that just can’t be patched up by ‘I love you’s or shoving it under the rug. M and I talked about the exposure to faith he would want for his children and though he had initially said that he was fine with them going to church and what not, he changed his mind and said he wanted them to have minimal exposure. I, for one, want them to be fully exposed because the love of my God is amazing. Really, one of those moments of: but think of the children!

I read another article by Elite Daily about how love isn’t necessarily enough to make a relationship work. M and I are a testament to that. A sad but true testament. Love is truly one of the most beautiful things that exist and real love is so difficult to find. To just have things mesh together, to not speak a word to one another and have that mutual love and respect pour forth. I still think about M on a daily basis and we haven’t spoken to each other since break up 2.0. I actually play ultimate frisbee because of him and somehow, our teams haven’t lined up to play in the same tier OR same field at the same time which is bizarre but I would say the work of God because I don’t think I could handle seeing this gold haired guy run like crazy and get crazy vertical to catch a disc. Hot lol.

One thing that struck me in the Relevant article was that the author mentions the small grain of hope her mother holds onto that her father will one day become a Christian, a grain of hope that has been prayed for for over three decades. I know that when I was with M, I always felt that small seed of overwhelming sadness to know that M didn’t know God and that our foundations were different. No matter how much we loved each other, we couldn’t ignore that fact. For him, I think that it was pretty difficult to know that he wasn’t enough for me as he was, as awesome and so fantastically good to me and so in tune with me. Could I really hold out for three decades? Hoping? Could he hold out for three decades knowing that his wife wanted a massive change in his life? One that he couldn’t really understand the need for?

I don’t really have answers for those who may find themselves in the same situation as me. Maybe you guys will be the one in the million; I really hope so. But I guess this is my personal experience and I hope it will give you food for thought. Truly, my heart still breaks. I think that a part of me is still angry that it didn’t work out and part of that anger, fair or otherwise, is directed at God. After all, isn’t He the Almighty that can make anything happen? But then my calm side just kills that lol. For us who love/want to be loved, would we want to be loved because the other person was ‘constructed’ to do so? That they do it out of obligation of sorts rather than free will? How unsatisfying would that love be? As hard as it may be for God and sometimes for us, we were all given that gift of free choice. Still, my heart aches. Slowly, I move forward but I think a piece of me will always love M and that’s okay as long as I’m moving forward.

Here’s to hoping 🙂

What is it like to date a non-Christian?

For the past six months, I’ve been a relationship with the wonderful M. I could give you the whole mushy spiel about how we connect, etc. but let’s not. I will tell you though that it’s pretty amazing to reach a point in your relationship where no words need to be spoken, just one look, a simple action (hug!) and you can feel the enormous love behind that one moment/action. But the biggest wedge in our relationship is my faith and his non-faith. Although raised in church, M has no interest in the message of Christianity. Although not raised in the church, my life line inextricably entwined with the message of Christianity. M is grounded in science and physical proof and reasoning; it’s not to say that faith and science cannot coexist in my opinion but M believes that these two things are exclusive to one another and have no overlap/opportunity to coexist. However, despite his non-belief, he understands how important my faith is to me. That faith in my life is beyond the physical motions associated with organized religion; it is a state of being, a way of life. It saved my life and molded me into the woman he loves so dearly. It molds my perspective of the past, my present and my future. He told me before that I was the happiest person he had ever met. He wasn’t talking about the happy response that comes with favorable external circumstances but an internal, underlying happiness. He knows that this foundational contentment comes from my faith. He has been supportive and sometimes, even proactive, to ensure that my faith continues to be nurtured and grows in my life. He has come to some events associated with the church to support me. However, he remains uninterested in exploring faith himself.

In our relatively short relationship, we have nearly broken up twice because of this issue. There were tears, hard blows and hearts breaking. Ultimately we decided to remain together to try and make it work, but what does that really mean? Since that time, we have learnt a bit more about each other and I think, grown to love and respect each other even more but we have been very hesitant to approach this part of our relationship because it is contentious. I sometimes wonder if I should say anything on certain topics because it is religious (though M does encourage me to speak unhindered) and I hesitate on asking him to pray with me (though he has agreed to sit with me if/when the occasion arises). Yes…I realize that these prefaces seem like justifications but they are what they are: the truth. Yet we also know that we cannot ignore it and cannot exclude it from our relationship. My faith is all encompassing. It cannot be put into a glass box and forgotten; it touches every part of my life and all the decisions I make in my life, including the decision of remaining in this relationship. Everyday, I pray that he will know God but I also know that regardless of what I want, the decision belongs to him and God and that I don’t have any control over it. All I can do is live my life as God has asked of and planned for me, to deepen my relationship with Him. I believe that God overflows the limited shells that we are and will overflow even more as we deepen in our faith. The breadth of His reach those this sodden vessel remains solely in His hands. God also calls us to know the people in the our lives better so that when the opportunities arise, you can essentially speak their language, that you know where they’re coming from. In my job, a lot of it is about word smithing, so you would like think that I would be able to apply this in my personal life (eh…difficult in practice but doable!). M has had a very blessed life. He’s smart, good looking, incredibly athletic. He’s successful in career and has a group of close friends from high school. His family loves each other and are very close as well. In many ways, he has not experienced the need that many others have. I don’t fault him for  this; how could I? But when we do not know need, if everything is provided in our lives and we are supported, how could we ever know that we actually do need God? All this I know and I trust the faithfulness of God but it doesn’t stop the ache. It doesn’t stop the questions that plague my mind. It doesn’t stop the sharp pain every time I think about this difference. Like my daily prayer for him, every day this hits me like a blow to the face. Everyday, the thought of ‘hey maybe breaking up would hurt less’ comes and stabs me in the chest.

The purpose this post isn’t to say whether or not it is right or wrong to date a non-Christian as a man/woman of faith. Rather, it is an inside look of what it’s like to be part of such a relationship. With regards to these relationships, many quote 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”. Fair enough. God provided us with His written word so that we may have a solid reference guide to the fullest life. Yet we are imperfect and it is extremely difficult, perhaps even impossible, to ever achieve the perfect life outlined in the amazing book. We are fallen but by the grace of God we are saved. So in response to this particular verse, I would very much agree with it not so much along the lines of ‘that’s wrong!’ and that’s it; rather, it’s because it’s so hard, so difficult and I think part of this verse is that God wanted to spare us from heart ache. It is absolutely heart wrenching to know that someone you love so deeply and someone who loves so deeply in return has yet to experience the immeasurable love of God. And yes, it is also difficult on a relational basis that you may not pray together, read the word together, sing worship songs together, attend church together. If someone was to ask me what I thought about dating a non-Christian, I would probably warn them against it because it’s so hard. Yes, I have choice in this of course. I had not considered remaining in a relationship with a non-believer before meeting M. And yet, somehow we did come together. If M and I are to continue in our relationship, I will have to decide whether or not I can live with this sadness until he knows God. And if he doesn’t, would I be okay with it? If you find yourself encroaching upon or in a similar situation, that is a question you have to ask yourself. I think that you would also need to ponder the question of whether or not you are/would still growing in your relationship with God and if your partner is and will always be supportive of this growth. Let me tell you though, the little things, little moments between M and I, even if he just says good morning every day when he goes into the office, is inexplicable. It’s like a warmth that fills your body and takes your breathe away, a smile that never fades.

Rediscovering Faith

I haven’t updated in a long time with my thoughts regarding relationships and what not. If you’ve read previous blog posts, I talked a lot about finding a man who could walk with me spiritually and love God more than he could ever love me. That sentiment still remains but sometimes, things don’t go quite as you expect them to. Whenever I met a guy that I thought was interesting, the first question that came to mind was whether or not he was a Christian. If he wasn’t, I usually lost interest right away. With my dating history, I knew how difficult it would be to date a non-Christian and selfishly, I didn’t want to go through that again. It is also quite amazing to be supported by someone who shares the same foundational views and values and to know that you could always count on this person to pray with you and to rely on God and call upon Him when things were rough inside and outside of your relationship. This would be ideal. I still very much believe in this idea of a relationship even though it would seem that my own path hasn’t followed that.

It would seem that I am determined to take the harder path lol even if on one hand, I aspire to take the easier path. Sometimes I look at my Christian friends and fellows who have found someone they love and loved God from their church and get a bit jealous. Relationships are difficult regardless but at least the onset of these relationships seemed to be pretty good. In the past year or so, I had two Christian guys who became non-starters. No, I did not pine away or jump off the deep end without caution. At least from my viewpoint, I had very explicit signs that hey, boy is interested and boy shares faith…huzzah! Alas, neither came to fruition. Was I frustrated? Most certainly but I remained relatively optimistic that this was where a relationship would come from when it eventually happened. Apparently not so much.

I met M playing corporate challenge badminton this past spring. Yes, I play badminton and used to do so competitively; however, in recent years, badminton would only happen once a year for corporate challenge and that’s it. I actually didn’t really want to play this year because I was already committed to triathlon and rock climbing, two things of which demanded so much of my time as individual sports, never mind both sports. But I was bribed into playing with the promise that snacks would be involved at practice and at the tournament (it was all a lie!). I noticed M pretty much right off the bat and got along with him amazingly well. Somehow, things just came together and snowballed. We started talking more and come tournament weekend, both were pretty confident that the other person was interested in the other. However, M is a non-believer.

On the night before our first ‘official’ date, he figured that we should talk about our differences in faith and values. Up to this point, I had justified the existence of our ‘relationship’ to be nothing more than a summer fling but as this talk approached, I realized how much I liked him. In the past, this is the point where most people would’ve backed off because there would a) be no sex involved and b) not so thrilled about religion having a role in the relationship. M surprised me. Despite all our differences, he wanted to a shot at trying to make a relationship work for us. I was shocked.

Since all this began, M has never shied away from the difficulties our relationship has faced and the times when I question it and when I emotionally shut down. I never had someone care for me the way he does, to want to fight for us. And yet, inside, I felt very torn. In the church, we are told that dating non-Christians is a bad thing – after all, the Bible tells us not to yolk with non-believers. Perhaps my own viewpoint is skewed, but I did and do not view the things that are outlined in the Bible to be hard rules but rather guidelines to living that have been established by a God who loves us and wants us to live a life that is fulfilling to the max. With regards to ‘not yolking with non-believers’, it’s because it’s so fucking hard. It’s so hard to know that you don’t share that perspective with them and have them available for you to pray with when you’re not sure about something or struggling with something. It’s hard to think that when you die, you won’t end up in the same place. This past weekend, M and I really struggled with how this would play out in our relationship and after a lot of discussion, we have yet to come to a conclusion with what we should do.
I spoke about the imperfect love of man to the perfect love of God. I realize though the imperfect love of man will always be imperfect, even if the man is a believer of God because we as people are just imperfect. But love in itself is a beautiful gift from God that truly doesn’t come around as much as we think or wish that it did. Yesterday, the verse of the day on my bible app was Psalm 55:22 that says this: ‘Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken’. I am so thankful for my non-family family, that they can give me a good reality check and encouragement all at the same time. One of my girls, Jaws, told me that I had to let go and give up this self-imposed oppression about whether or not M would know God or not. She told me that it wasn’t up to me. That even though M couldn’t see himself coming to know God, that he nor I could predict what could or could not happen. That being with me was a window into a whole different world that he didn’t see before. That all I could do would love M and continue to live my life with the love God instilled in me and walk on the path God has laid before me. That by being ‘burdened’, I was trying to take control of God’s work. One of the most interesting things she told me though that I hadn’t even considered was that by sharing and not censoring the faith part of my life with M, that my own relationship with God grows. That through this relationship, I am learning and still drawing close to God. A part of me fears that by being with someone who is not a believer, that I am disappointing Him. But then I think about how blessed I am to have M in my life and I’m not so sure about that anymore. She also told me to be strong and not to abandon M when we are both learning and growing with one another. One of the things I value the most with my relationship with M is how we can have involved conversations about life and relationships. That there’s an established and growing trust to share things about our past and how we view life without fear of judgement and knowing that it’s being shared in a safe environment. I feel like one of the reasons why God placed M in my life is because he’s strong enough to be there when I fall and that he is helping me heal the emotional scars left behind by others.

So now my faith is growing in a way I never really considered. Man, it’s so hard. It really is difficult but so far, I’ve learnt so much about myself and my faith through M. I don’t know if he knows that. It’s not to say that we won’t struggle because we will but at least I know that I’m on a team and not alone. Here’s to hoping 

Girls

I actually had a completely different post put together, ready to be posted online when I realized and decided that something needed to be addressed first. The concept of community is still a new and astounding thing to me; it’s something I’ve always craved for yet feared. To be truly involved in a community of people, there has be a give and take, a commitment towards vulnerability with people you continue to grow in trust, respect and love. My community of people consists of the friends I’ve met throughout my travels, my family, those old friends I’ve known for more than a decade and those that surround me here in Edmonton. It is this emphasis that I try to carry and apply to my life, regardless of how busy my schedule can get.

Today, I want focus on one particular group of friends that have really opened my eyes in the past year, that have surrounded me with so much support and love that I feel the need to write a sort of a love letter. Today, I’m writing to my girls. That’s right. For quite a while, I have scorned the friendship between women because I saw a lot of the negative pettiness that existed between women and the drama, oh the drama. But the past year or so, God has really put an emphasis of meeting and developing close relationships with girls in Edmonton and rejuvenating and deepening the already close relationships with my girls that live elsewhere. So here we go 🙂

Dear Girls,

I’m not quite sure how to start this letter. Somehow, I don’t think the usual greetings will suffice but hey, I’m just killing time right now as I try to find the right words. Your friendship has been a light in my world. I’ve never experienced so much joy and support as I have in the last year I’ve been in Edmonton. I always knew that God grounded me in one place for a relatively prolonged period of time so that I may develop relationships but I never thought I would’ve found you girls. You are the girls that rock my socks. Somehow, we bounded like glue. Actually, in some cases, it was almost like lightening and we were instant friends. If I look back, all I can think of is ‘hawt diggity! we became friends so quickly’. And it’s not just a surface friendship, no. It’s a friendship that delves into the reality of who we are, the struggles that we face, not just with boys but with life. Most of all, we unite in our faith, the one thing that brought us together in the first place, the one thing that enables this deep connection that we share. It doesn’t matter if we climb, bike, run or swim together, though we probably do at least one of those things together. Maybe it’s when you call me out for lunch or a movie night, or willingness to squeeze in a short coffee date into your busy schedule because you know I need some face time with someone who cares and loves me. Maybe it’s when you answer instantly to my text and tell me to call ASAP because you know I need to talk to someone NOW. Maybe it’s because you are willing to pray with me regardless of what I’m going through, whether or not you’re physically with me or because you just keep me in your prayers. You inspire me. You inspire me with your triumphs, with your struggles and with your faith in God. You inspire others; you just don’t know it, but you do. You were uniquely created by the God who loves you unconditionally and bestowed gifts upon you so that you may be a salt and light to the world. You have got to know that you have achieved that in my life. So let me end this before I get too sappy: Thank you.

B

Networking

One of the biggest lessons I learnt in DC was that networking is important and really, the ‘real’ way to get around in this world. By the end of the program, I had distribute few (I was but an intern after all) but collected many business cards from people that I met at various events. Undoubtedly, the development of this particular skill enabled me to come out of my shell and really have no fear in getting to know people that I have never met before. I don’t insert myself into conversations at whim but rather, latch onto some sort of commonality between the to-be speaker and I/provide a (must be genuine) compliment. Men are a bit easier to speak to but that’s because I’m mainly around men during my free time (climbing and all…no, not that kind of climbing, rock climbing damn it). Women, well, usually there’s a familiarity sisterhood thing going for us but sometimes, oddly and unfortunately, we view our fellow woman as competition. But all that is a whole different discussion.

I certainly would not have met as many people as I did during my travels and even during my time here if I didn’t know how to ‘network’. Granted, I find myself much more comfortable speaking to people unofficially, say the person who’s in line with me at the grocery store or reading an interesting book at the coffee shop. No I’m (most likely) not hitting on you! Rather, I love hearing people’s stories. I think it’s a way we as people connect and learn from one another. Now…how does all this connect to this concept of ‘networking’?

As aforementioned, networking is one of those things that is pounded into our heads about how important it is. Yet I wonder, does that then create this mindset that we should get to know people with the understanding that we only really care about meeting these people so that we can use them to further our own professional objectives? With approximately a month left in my program in DC, I became very disenchanted with this idea. I saw it everywhere. I, myself, cannot be counted as innocent of this mindset. However, I truly resent it.

The good friends that I met throughout my education and into my career are first and foremost good friends. On some level, we all recognize the career status most of us have achieved and continue towards; that in the future, if our careers continue to build and grow, that we will be in certain positions of dare I say it? power. That through our shared experiences as students and young professionals and through our friendships, we have inadvertently created a professional network.  At the present time and in the future, we will be/continue to be in positions to help one another. But let me emphasize this, our friendship comes first; if they don’t, they should. These friendships were not built upon the idea that we could ‘use’ one another but really, built on the general principles that define the concept of friendship that apply to everyone, even the little ones (well, okay, we may not be building forts out of blankets together..but you know). It aggravates me when I see some of my friendships slip into the ‘let’s use one another’ side of things. I absolutely loathe it.

I just recently joined LinkedIn; honestly, I think it’s a great tool to remain connected with the people that I met during my time abroad and otherwise. Although I am still in touch with my friends on a personal level, it’s also great to see how they are doing professionally as many of us are on the same boat. However, we must not forget the human side of our friendships, regardless of where they may have sprung from. That first and foremost, our friends are exactly that, our friends. If we fall into the idea of using one another and leave our ‘friendship’ at that, we are only building grounds for the ‘dog-eat-dog’ approach to the development of our careers. My fantastic mentor, MO, truly demonstrated to me that building genuine relationships with people and treating them with respect and care is a very viable way to build one’s career; just because you care, doesn’t automatically mean you’re incompetent. This is perhaps a wee bit extreme, but I hope it was thought provoking.