Thursday, October 21, 2010

Meredith & Cristina... Finding our "person" in the big wide world

In the turbulent second season of the hit TV show "Grey's Anatomy," Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang are sitting in a bar. They've had an argument about a pregnancy, and boys, and some other drama. And Cristina comes into the bar and says these (now well beloved) lines:

"The clinic has a policy. They wouldn't let me confirm my appointment unless I designated an emergency contact person, someone to be there just in case and to help me home, you know, after. Anyway, I put your name down. That's why I told you I'm pregnant. You're my person." Meredith asks, "I am?" Cristina says, "Yeah, you are. Whatever."

Ever since I saw (and bought) this episode, the concept of "my person" or "my people" has given me food for thought. Are we designated a certain number of these people? The ones who makes us laugh, who know us better than we usually know ourselves, who can ask the right question or challenge us with the right reminder, not because they are the wisest people in the world, but just because they know us best? Our people are safe havens and the motivators that push us into the world. They make us do scary things like go to Washington, DC for four months when we've never spent that much time apart from our family. They push us to think about the major we really love, the school we dream of going to, the job that sounds too perfect to exist. And through the challenging and the pushing forward, they love us consistently.

I have been blessed with several of these people in my life. My friendships with my people range from high school to this semester, from my age to much older, and they all look different. It wasn't until I came to this city, and met the roar and bustle of the 599,657 people who live in the District that I realized how important it is to have your people. It is easy to be anonymous here, easy to fade into the crowd, easy to feel that you are just one Starbucks-holding, black suit-wearing, Blackberry-checking person in a sea of similar people. My last few posts have been all about what we can learn from the strangers we pass on the streets. And I believe with my whole heart that we can learn a million different things from these strangers. But as a coworker at my internship so rightly pointed out to me today, your circle of people should be smaller than every person you walk by in a day. He is right; you cannot physically pour yourself out to everyone in the landscape of your life.

I have a hard time admitting this, especially in a city where I am so excited to meet new people. I want to get coffee with girls at church, I want to hang out with everyone in my program, I want to reach out to my coworkers and to the nice people I meet in the Metro. I want everyone to feel like they can have a person, that they have someone in their life to listen to them and love them, and I want to be that to everyone. And it was this almost unconscious desire to be everyone's "person" that was challenged by my coworker as he leaned in the doorway of my office this afternoon.

So readers, here are my two musings for the night (well, three if you count the musing that there is probably more to the Grey's Anatomy quote than I originally thought):

1. We cannot be all things to all people. We cannot meet a Meredith or a Cristina at every turn, and we should not expect that our friends of two weeks will know us like our friends of ten years. We should not push others or ourselves to become more than what we can become in our friendships.

2. But we cannot live anonymously. We cannot ask every person between Foggy Bottom and Eastern Market (a fairly decent Metro ride, for those of you who do not frequently take the Orange/Blue lines) to be our people; but we can (and should) seek out people that we trust, and seek to be trustworthy. We should open our hearts to the lives and stories of others and we should put our lives and stories into others' hearts.

So take five seconds (maybe 35) and make a list of the people who could sit in a bar and say, "You're my person" to you. Then make a list of the people YOU could sit in a bar with and say, "You're my person." And give thanks for them, for they give life its color and power and joy.


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