Here is one thing that I know… a theme that seems to be playing over and over and over again in my life lately. Ready?
Super plain and simple. People really, really matter. People are the ones who will be there when the crap happens you can’t control. People are the ones who cry with you in a diner because life is moving so fast and you’re so overwhelmed and you’ve got a million crazy dreams and ideas but you have no clue where to start. People are the ones who remind you to chase those crazy freakin’ dreams like no one can stand in your way. People are the ones who say, “Man, I can’t wait to pick up your book one day.” [That one gave me chills. Let me tell you.] People are the ones who smile at you from across the table and grin and nod and tell you how important and smart and inspiring you are.
People are worth it.
I promise, promise, promise you that people are worth it. Worth the cup of coffee you really don’t think you have time for. Worth the phone call you’ve been putting off. Worth the text message, email, Skype date, whatever it is. People are worth investing in. Because when you invest in people… When you give your heart and really, truly invest in people, it matters. It changes things. It opens doors and moves mountains and makes things happen.
I’ve even got proof. Ready for this one? It’s a crazy, awesome story. And nope, I definitely don’t think it was a coincidence. It’s way, way too good to just have happened by chance. Nope, this is a story that demonstrates why having a heart for people matters. Why stepping all over people might not be the only way to move up in the world. Why being real and genuine and thoughtful makes a real, tangible difference.
This is my former intern Chloe. Six months ago, when I was the Assistant to the Editor in Chief at Seventeen, Chloe called my boss’ line and left a random voicemail. She mentioned she would be in NYC and would love to visit the office. I decided to respond via email (because, yep, I answer crazy random calls and requests like that) and told her that she could stop by for a quick coffee. I was so impressed by her ambition, even then, that we later offered her an internship the following fall. She was (by far) one of our best interns, and definitely stood out, in more ways than one. So… six months later, today was Chloe’s FIRST DAY as the new Assistant to the Editor in Chief at Seventeen! I am so incredibly proud of her and lucky to be part of her story, a story that proves nothing is ever impossible or too crazy… Even things like asking for an EIC’s phone number through information.
You never know where it may lead or who may answer the phone.
(Plus… Above all, she’s a *natural* redhead, so obviously she’s a winner).
I’m not really sure what led me to respond to Chloe’s email that day. I’m pretty sure it was a combination of a few things… but most of all, feeling like this was my chance to give a small-town girl a huge chance to feel that same way I felt the first time I went up those escalators. Here’s the thing I do know for sure… that caring enough to answer an email, taking just a few minutes to invest in someone even when it feels uncomfortable or inconvenient, had this incredible ripple effect that changed someone’s entire life. Which is pretty cool.
If you know me, you know I’m a pretty independent person. I could spend entire days alone and be completely ok. Hours in a library or long walks or sitting and reading in the park… I can be really, really happy being alone. And although I’ve been blessed with an incredible army of friends and family, I’ve had to make a ton of BIG decisions in my life alone. Especially in the past few years. In many cases, I’ve been my own provider, my own protector, my own confidant, and my own cheerleader.
Just after college, I made a big, risky decision to leave everything I’ve ever known to move to New York City. Alone. With very little money, no relatives in close proximity, very few actual friends, and absolutely no clue how hard it would be to do it all alone. I grew so much during that time… learned about my strength, perseverance, confidence and the things I’m most passionate about. Real life things like looking for an apartment, moving, paying rent, opening an *actual* savings account… I did it all alone.
And most times, I’m really proud of all that. [Or… I’m learning to be really proud of that.] Because other times, I get really self-conscious about it. And that’s real talk.
There are times in my life where I am genuinely worried that being so independent stands in the way of letting other people in. Letting other people get close enough where they could eventually let me down. Keeping myself from relationships with guys, more specifically, because I’m too busy being independent.
Sometimes, being independent feels like both my biggest blessing as well as my biggest fault. And sometimes, I’m like, why can’t I be like that girl who has no problem letting someone else take on some of their burden? Why can’t I be like that girl who opens her heart so easily and takes huge chances on people?
Guys like that girl.
So… I also have this thing with commitment. And it’s something that’s not super easy for me to talk about. Because on the outside, I can mask it with this incredible imagery of independence and confidence and strength. And the phrase, “I just know what I want,” or “I’m waiting for the right thing,” or “I’m just being patient.” But inside, it makes me a little sad that it’s hard for me to take chances on people. To take risks and say the things that I really want to. And chase people intentionally and let them have little pieces of my heart every now and then.
Part of me even thinks that the fact I’ve never really dated anyone before is because of my independence.
And because of that, independence almost feels shameful. [And oh man, is that a hard for me to say out loud.]
Part of me believes that guys take one look at me and think, “Oh, she doesn’t have time in her busy/crazy/awesome/inspiring life for me.” Or, “I’ll never live up to her expectations.” Or, “She’s great for some other guy, but not for me.”
So yeah, there’s that. And I deal with that all the time. I deal with that when I tell guys I meet about what I do. What my hopes and dreams are. And it makes me real, real worried they’ll just want to run the other direction.
But here’s the thing… the thing that I’m learning. The thing that I’ve been praying about for years.
People are important. People matter. People are worth it.
And here’s the truth… the right people won’t care that you’re so independent. In fact, they’ll praise you for it. They’ll tell you every day how proud of you they are. They’ll look up to you and they’ll want to be there for you, but they’ll also understand that you don’t need them to be okay. Because you’re capable of doing it on your own. You’ve done it that way forever. And that’ll be part of what makes them fall for you.
But one day, they’ll ask for your heart. And you’re going to have to give it to them. You’re going to have to be strong and confident enough to know that it doesn’t mean giving up your independence. You’re going to have to realize, and believe, with everything you are, that life is better with people lying next to you. Richer. Fuller. Beautiful, oh so beautiful.
But until then, do yourself a favor… never stop being proud of your independence. Embrace it. Own it. But also know, that we weren’t built to do life alone. And the beauty is that we don’t have to.
Having a heart for people matters. And you were given a really, really special heart for people. So while you go and do you, always remember that it’s ok to invest in people. People are really, really special. And so important.
The most important.