During the pandemic, we were forced to shrink our circles of friends and family. You had to decide who you were willing to expose yourself to as we were encouraged to stay home and self-isolate. Who you chose to be a part of your circle was truly a testament to who you trusted with your life…dramatic…maybe? In some cases it also allowed us to create space where we needed to pre-pandemic but now had a “reason”. As we come out of self-isolation we have authority to manage our circle as we have been given a one-time reset. How are you expanding that circle and more importantly who are you letting in?
My circle shrunk to my immediate family; my kids, grandkids, spouse, and close coworkers. It reduced my risk of getting COVID but also reduced my risk of vulnerability in the sharing of my life. It gave space and time to rethink relationships, both those that are fulfilling and those that were lacking. The pandemic forced us all to slow down in our lives, and in some cases stop in our tracks. The good that can be taken out of that halt is the benefit of lessons learned and the respect of that time, to not go back and repeat that which you have removed or resolved.
All of my life I have understood the importance of family. As an only child, I came from a large and loving family with my dad’s seven brothers and sisters providing “my” siblings. The family has undeniably been where I turn at all times in my life. This is likely a lesson from a Latino upbringing that is well-known as a core value of the culture.
Latinos tend to be highly group-oriented. A strong emphasis is placed on family as the major source of one’s identity and protection against the hardships of life. This sense of family belonging is intense and limited to family and close friends.
The sense of family is “intense” and the feeling of “belonging” regardless of your last name is as one under an Abuela that wrote the values from modeling a life that would not be taken for granted. I have rarely been disappointed by family, and for that, I am blessed. It is in the many that I have called “friends” that I have found great disappointment in my life. Yes, I have had immense reward and am very grateful for all those that have come into my life for the experiences and the love. The disappointment is that I do not easily let go and yet the lifecycle of friendship leaves me searching for those that have moved on. I have had to learn time and time again that friends coming into your life for a reason, for a season, and then journey on.
It is ironic that as I was researching the cycle of or circle of friendship I found it peculiar that it is defined as four types;
Friendship is categorized into four types: acquaintance, friend, close friend and best friend.
…yet where is the fifth type where they leave and are, not so much as an acquaintance, as a stranger emboldened with all of your secrets. Powerful, eh? Revealing even. Real.
Out of the rabbit hole I come, a bit singed, but not completely jaded. I am blessed with beautiful lifelong friends that remind me that the four types do indeed exist and there is a place for all; even the fifth “undefined” type. Back on topic…
As you make your way out of the pandemic to “life as we used to know it” make sure to redefine how and who you spend your time with. We have been given the reset of a lifetime. Time either made your heart grow fonder or further. The pandemic redefined the quality of our work lives to a point that we may never know a traditional office environment again. Why stop there, while defining what you want in your life’s balance make sure to include only those that add to the balance in your life and not take away what is not for the taking.
I am committed to spending my time with those that take as much as they give and expand my experience. I recognize the precious time that I have left to spend on this earth and will choose the circle that serves that time richly. In redefining my circle I am not only serving myself more wholly but becoming a better friend and family member to those that have allowed me in their circle. I am able to focus on what is right in my relationships and expend my precious time and energy on those that are deserving.
Last but not least, in redefining my circle I added one person that was missing from all of my pre-pandemic circles…ME. I have learned the importance of self-care, self-respect, and time with oneself. By reducing my circle I have left time to learn more about myself and what I want in this life which is paramount to the remainder of my undefined time on this earth. The perfection of a circle is that regardless of how many are in or out the circle is always a perfect shape, sized for that time in your life.
Life as I Live it — L.