Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 55 seconds
Yesterday, I participated in a lovely session, a celebration with the NDB (Never Done Before) community – a community I first found out about just last month, but they’ve left an impact on me. I had to leave early, so I missed the last conversation prompt, but thankfully, they sent it today in the newsletter. So I thought I’d share my thoughts for the first question and invite you to think through these prompts as well.
What is one thing I know today that I didn’t know a year ago?
That I can make new friends, much younger friends, and that these friendships can quickly become deep and meaningful and important for me. I’ve always known I could learn from young people: my students, my child, anyone, really. But this year, I made two friends who are much younger than me – one about 10 years younger, and another about 20 years younger, and they’re not just acquaintances or colleagues or friends, but they’re also sometimes my mentors. The realization here is that most of my life, my friends were my age or older. I’ve always had friends who were much older. In my 20s and 30s, I had very close friends who were in their 50s, 60s, even 70s. They never made me feel like I was a child and they were the wise ones. They made me feel like a peer. I hadn’t really thought about it, until this year, when I realized two of my closest friends now are so much younger than me. I guess you also sometimes think like, I’ve got so many friends already, ones I’ve known for many years, ones I trust, who know me well, but then you realize there is also still room for someone new, to fill a different gap, or bring in a new dimension to your life? And I have always known I enjoy meeting new people, but I don’t think I necessarily always intended to keep expanding my friend circle, you know?
Who was I a year ago? What has shifted? What have I learned?
A year ago today, I was angry. I was hung up on something I wanted, demanded, felt I deserved, but couldn’t get. I felt slighted, insulted, overlooked, undervalued. In this ONE thing. I focused on the ONE thing I could not have, and fixated on it, such that I had underlying anger all the time, despite lots of great things happening for me. Something shifted for me at the start of 2022… A community I valued so much crumbled and many of the members of that community were left to pick up the pieces and make something out of it, bring us all out of the burnout from 2 years of pandemic. I think that organizing MYFest was one of the ways I helped myself find my joy, and spread joy, and met new wonderful people, and spend valuable energizing time with like-minded people. I learned and grew and enjoyed this experience with old friends, new friends, and even my own child. I suddenly started to realize, after a session I attended around joy, what the things that bring me joy are, and I made a decision to make more choices that would bring me joy. And I’ve been doing this, especially this fall semester, and it’s transformed my life. At least once a week, I’ll have a coffee or a walk with a close friend who isn’t part of my work (or is with me at work, but we’re not meeting about work). I’ll remember the things that bring me joy and call upon them when I’m down. Music. Baking. Cuddles. Chai Latte 🙂 And teaching and facilitating and learning 🙂
By the way, if you miss MYFest – I’m organizing a 3-day Intentionally Equitable Hospitality series in January – more info and registration (variable pricing) here
In a year from now, in 5 years from now – who have I become? How will I show up to become the version you imagine?
So this is the prompt I missed, and I’m just thinking through this now… I’m not sure if that final “you” here is meant to be a you?
I’d like to believe that in a year from now, oh wow, this is a tough one but an important one. I don’t think I would have been able to reflect on it easily live in the session!
Actually, but I do have some goals, they’re not about the person I will have “become” but they’re goals, so I guess I’ll say them.
One really important goal for me in the coming year is to create for my child learning experiences that improve her Arabic language and her sense of Egyptian identity. She’s recently become aware of the colonialism of a Western education in a privileged private school, and I think I’ve realized that I have enough resources to try to help create learning experiences like that, for her and for others, even though I can’t do it myself.
So who will I have become? I guess I think I’ll have become even more of the type of person who nurtures connections/networks in order to make things happen (OK, I guess that was always be, but trust me, I’m on overdrive these days), things that bring joy to others and to myself. I also hope that I’ll continue to grow in learning about social justice and finding ways to enhance equity, care and mental health in my institution and beyond. That’s what is on my mind right now. I’m sure if I thought about it for longer, I’d come up with other things.
Have these questions made you reflect? Share if you’re in the mood! They’re great questions for any beginning of year or end of year meetings, workshops, etc.
Photo of a Wild Deer looking back by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash