One of my best friends is a dj. Recently he sent me a cd of one of his mixes. Included within that mix is the song above. I have been familiar with this song for some time but I never spent time actually pondering the meaning of it. For the past week I have been doing just that. Examining what would I do and who would I be if I had not been touched by the people in my life- family, friends, and others.
My family means everything to me. Both of my parents are products of divorce so I have many sides to my family. Both parents are part of a large nuclear family. Thus I grew up with many aunts, uncles and cousins. Some I saw often some not so but they all shaped my life in some way. Where would I be without the experience of being the girl with 3 different names by age 18? How would I have been affected by my parents not divorcing? How much of my growth would have been stunted without the exposure to all of the “extra” sides of my family? How would I be different if I hadn’t received love in so many forms from my family?
I have a strong network of core friends. Through them I have learned to trust others, to be open, to be grounded and collected. Most importantly I have learned to not be so hard on myself, to see myself as others see me, and to let my inner light shine as brightly as possible. I will never forget a conversation I had about a year ago where my friend said to me “let me hold up the mirror so you can see yourself as others see you.” I cried then and I cry now thinking about it. What would I do if I didn’t have people who thought more of me than I sometimes think of myself?
I am doubly blessed to have a few family members who are also friends. I call them “framily.” Other than what I have with my children, my relationship with these framily members is possibly the closest thing I have to unconditional love. As my one cousin says “Yeah ok, so you’re mad. Now what? You might as well get over it cause I ain’t going nowhere and we’re all we got.” Who would I be if I didn’t know that come what may I have people in my life who are there for me til the grave?
I have other friends in my life who believe it or not I have yet to meet. The internet is a powerful tool. These are people who I have made deep connections with through either our common interests (often times music) or a deeper soulful connection. Whatever the case may be, they get me and I get them. Their words fuel my soul and give me alternative ways to view any given topic. Who would I be if I weren’t open to new people and adventures?
Some of my internet friends have crossed the line. We’ve met and now they are just “new friends.” In a few rare instances these people are as close as family members. Regardless of whether they are as close as family or “just” good friends, they add another dimension to my life. What would I do if I couldn’t go to my second home of Chicago? Where would I be if I wasn’t open to new friendships?
One of the biggest factors in making me who I am was my time spent at Florida A&M University. I matured into adulthood surrounded by a host of really good people from all over the country. Who would I be if I didn’t attend FAMU? I learned what a love relationship looked like. I learned serious heartbreak. I learned to appreciate and value the fact that people think differently depending on where they are from. Some of my longest lasting friendships are with people I met at FAMU.
That being said, I also have lasting friendships with my high school pals. I graduated from an all girl high school in a class of 800 (am I right ladies?) girls. I am closer with some of these ladies today than I ever was in school and I’m so grateful. Who would I be without people who can truly say they have seen me grow from who I was to who I have become? I hope they are proud because I can only hope to match the phenomenal growth I have seen in them.
I could never forget my church family. I have attended my church since I was six years old. We are a small but mighty congregation and I have friends there whom I have known since I was six. Where would I be without the stability of my spiritual family?
This mental exercise has been one of the most powerful things I have ever done. It has made me look at my life and recognize that everyone you touch plays an important part. Interestingly, even the negative events related to some people become the impetus for some of the most positive changes in your life.
So what did I discover in pondering this topic? I learned that I would not be the loving, giving, insightful, honest, grounded, motivational, centered, collected, wonderful person that I am if I didn’t know YOU. I have no idea where I would be, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have lived in Tallahassee, Atlanta, Boston, NJ, or back in Maryland if I didn’t know YOU. Yes, I would live somewhere and do something. But, I would not be the mother to the wonderful people I call my children; and I wouldn’t have had the wonderful childhood I had; and I wouldn’t be navigating the waters I’m now in if I didn’t know YOU.
There is no time for what ifs and maybes. There is only what is. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to know you. I thank you for the part you have played in my life. Whether you were aware at the time or not, you have helped to shape me.
Spread love…peace and blessings