“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
When I consider the many challenges that people face on this planet, I feel very blessed for the family I was born to – my brother and I were (and still are) loved, and many of our early experiences with the world were positive. We were fortunate to have family in different countries, and started our lives aware that there are all sorts of experiences awaiting us in the world, if we were to be open to them.
As I entered adulthood though, I experienced what some psychologists refer to as “failure to launch.” My first foray at independent life in Seattle ended up being an experience so isolating, that I cried tears of joy when I learned my parents would welcome my return home after college, and that the only person who thought I was a failure was my own sorry self. It was hard – I’ve been fiercely independent since I was a toddler, and returning home left me feeling defeated. This was something I couldn’t do. So when I returned to Seattle the second time – three years ago today – I felt stronger in knowing what I needed to do to feel good in a place: I needed to find a good network of friends.
There were several false starts – finding friends can be as hit or miss as dating, and when you’re as shy as I am, opening up can be a challenge – and late last year I began to feel the same drowning sense of isolation that had precipitated my departure from Seattle in 2005. There were days when I realized that the only conversations I had outside of work were with my cat. (Which no matter how nice one’s creature is, doesn’t do a lot for one’s sense of health and well-being. Trust me.) Until one night, when out with some work friends, I ran into people I knew through my ex, people who’d always made me feel welcomed and appreciated, even though our time spent together was brief. And that was the turning point.
I don’t know how to explain it, but suddenly, out of an unexpected place, my family is more than the people I’ve loved my whole life. They’re the people I want to share the ups and downs of life with – people who I love for being their lovely, funny, distinctly-human selves. People who – like me – have their flaws, but counter it with a whole lot of heart given generously to one another. People who don’t care what strangers think as we sing and dance at a bowling alley, or as we laugh and call one another names when we discover that we’ve unknowingly earned a pair of bunny ears in a photo. We just are around one another.
I wonder if this is part of growing up – this transition from the family who raised us to the family that continues to uplift us. Whatever it is, I am glad that I returned bravely to Seattle, and that my journey brought me to this family that is growing around me.
Friends are the family you choose
Sasha may be the shyest social person you’ll ever meet. She joined Verity in 2009, with a couple years in the Credit Union Movement already tucked under her belt (amidst coffee-making and bagel-slinging, running a non-profit, and trying her hand at farming).
An eternal optimist (except, you know, when she’s not), she enjoys exploring her surroundings and having adventures with friends; yoga, running, reading, writing, and good food. Though not a remarkable cook, she is nonetheless a sincere one and admits she’d be better if there were three more hours in every day. When not doing one of the many activities mentioned in the previous two sentences, she counts herself lucky to be peacefully at home, cuddling with her partner and their cat.