Captain Awesome Academy Step 3 of Bootcamp: Find Your People.
Welcome back Apprentice! You’re now on Step 3 of Bootcamp: Find Your People. Who are we without our people, our family? Nothing. The human mammal is meant to live in social groups and have large families. Have you heard the story of an older couple where one of them dies and then the other follows soon afterwards or within a year of their beloved? This is a phenomenon that we hear of quite often. It sometimes doesn’t make sense as the surviving partner’s physical health is usually pretty good. There's a reason for this. Humans are complex creatures - and we are mostly driven by our hearts.
When I was 32, my partner of 5 years was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was only 39. It was an aggressive cancer that eventually took her life. She fought the disease, and we did everything we could think of (and afford) to keep her alive and eventually just comfortable. But in the end, 5 years later she was done. I sat by her bed with our group of close friends and we watched her die. It was the worst experience, really. Nothing like the movies where the woman slowly says “I love you” and then closes her eyes and stops breathing and that's it… it was nothing like that.
We were with her for weeks in hospice, and during her last week I slept on the little hide-a-bed beside her bed so that she didn't feel so alone. She was scared. She knew fully what was going on, and we often talked about that burning question “what happens when we die?”. Of course we never found an answer and it bothered her right up to when she died. Her name was Marie, and she was a social worker who worked in palliative care. She actually worked in the exact unit she ended up in, and knew all the nurses and other social workers there. In a way, it was comforting to be surrounded by so many beautiful people. They helped cushion the many crazy emotions we all went through and were incredibly supportive. It was also tremendously hard because there was no escaping the sadness reflected in all of our eyes…
When Marie and I first got together I remember thinking that we’d be partners forever - and we could conquer the world if we needed to. And I knew in my heart that if she died, I would die too… Well, surprisingly enough to me - here I am 15 years later… writing for you, and living an incredibly different life. And nowhere near dead.
What happened? That's the real question. I was so certain that I’d die! Is it like the movie Sixth Sense and I'm actually dead… and I just think I’m alive? “Nope”, my head said, “no way, you’ve got shit to do lisa! Be strong and learn to balance all aspects of your life. It’s so important.” I don't know whose voice that was, but it was so direct and clear inside my head that I eventually made the decision to follow it.
I believe that we are put on this planet for a reason. We all have something to contribute, and a job to do. And the support system for us to get this done is our people. So, your next task is to check in with yourself, and see whether you’ve found “your people”. Your people are those who lift you up when you’re down; who help you feel balanced just by being in their presence. They listen, and I mean truly listen when we need to talk, and they don’t judge us… Who are your people? Sometimes it’s easy and they’re related to you, and sometimes (dare I say most times) they’re not. I have a great quote from Marisa, one of my first interviewees. “Love is thicker than blood.” Ain't that the truth?!
To live to our fullest potential we need support - there’s no doubt about this. Some cultures have close family ties where everyone supports each other, and they all thrive and grow together. As you have probably noticed by now, I didn't have much of that. But that's okay, I have had to learn to build my own family, and in doing so, really define what that means to me. Whether related by blood or not, I learnt how to choose who would become my family - my people. So… who are your people?
Okay Apprentice, it’s your time to participate. This is an important golden step, as your people are the foundation of security that allows you to grow and thrive. They are your support system and will help you to succeed. Set aside some time to take a look at the people in your life. To really look at them. Who are they? And remember to include everyone: the good, the bad and the ugly. Over the next few weeks simply ponder or reflect, and ask yourself: “why is this person in my life?”. Answers always reveal themselves if we give them space and time to percolate. Without judging. It's important not to judge each answer, simply let the answers reveal themselves to you when you ask yourself the question, “Who are the people in my life; and why?” When we know why people are in our lives, we can decide who ends up being in our inner circle, our family, our people.