Thursday, April 26, 2012

Surrounded by those I choose...

This morning I was contemplating my new life up here in WA State.  (Yes, it has been over a year, but I think it still qualifies as "new.")  While getting my car serviced the other day I found myself, yet again, defending my decision to move here to a complete stranger.

"How could you leave sunny southern CA,with all of its excitement, and move to THIS?!"  I was asked.

Yes, the "grass is always greener" philosophy is alive and well in this corner of the world.

But the truth, the grass IS always greener up here--literally--which is one of the many things I like about living in the Pacific Northwest.  And the things I was initially worried about, like being in a smaller town and being away from lots of cultural opportunities are non-issues now.  There is definitely something to be said for living in a smaller town.  People are a little nicer, the pace a little slower...all good things.  And even though there are no big cultural events in the town we live in, we live close enough to Portland where things are available.  All in all, not so bad.  And let's face it, I've seen a lot grosser areas in Los Angeles than I've seen here. 

Living in Los Angeles definitely has a few perks, and is, perhaps, a bit more exciting, but it isn't like living in a TV show.  Not everyone is all glossy and glamorous, holding their Louis Vuitton bags, and eating sushi and sipping Perrier.  A lot of people are tired from the constant rat-race (I used to be one of them) and wishing that they could live in a place where things move a little slower, too.

Bottom line...there are happy and fulfilled people in Southern CA and in our little town in Washington.

And there are unhappy and unfulfilled people in both places too.

I am choosing to be happy.  Yes, it is a choice.

Which leads me to the people in my life these days.  I feel very, very lucky in this respect, because for the first time in a long time, I have the option to only closely associate with people that I really want to be around.  (Thankfully, they like having me around too.)  I didn't have that option when I was working (few people do.)  Your colleagues are chosen by someone else and you pick your work friends from that pool of people. Yes, I had some wonderful colleagues.  And, yes, I also had some that I really could've done without.

I was thinking about this while reading an article on The Purpose Fairy site (fantastic blog) about things we have to do to be happy.  One of them was giving up the thought that you can control how people perceive you.  We've all been in situations where we know that someone doesn't like us, we don't understand why, and there isn't much we can do about, but it still bothers us.  Maybe we've even been singled out by that person.  I'm one of those people who it bothers a lot because, yes, I care what people think of me and it gnaws at me when I know I'm being thought of negatively and didn't do anything to deserve it.  Or at least, I THINK I didn't do anything to deserve it.

It brought me back to an incident that happened during my last year of teaching when one of my colleagues surprised me greatly by attacking my integrity out of the blue and not only turned against me, but took a little band of a few others with her.  Four people that I had great respect for as women and educators were suddenly giving me the cold shoulder, both in person and online.  I'm still bewildered at what happened and question what I did to warrant such treatment.  I lost sleep over it.  I remember filling out my wedding invitations at 3am because I needed a distraction.  Shame on me for giving them so much power.

And it wasn't so much that these women were key figures in my life, but it was the fact that someone didn't like me and I didn't know why.

But now I get it.  I finally, finally get it.  Something happened that I had no control over and it skewed their perception of me.  I wasn't a key figure in their lives anymore than they were in mine.  I was a colleague.  Friendship with me was expendable.  When it is a key figure you try a lot harder.  It's taken me almost 2 years to come realize this.

Which brings me full circle and makes me all the more grateful for those who are key figures.  My husband, my family, BYU friends, former colleagues that really know me and have a little more faith in me, and the friends I've made since moving to Washington. 

I'm surrounded by those I choose.  I choose some pretty great people.


Tricia said...

Slaa- I hate thinking that someone would do that to you. I am far too often baffled by the cold hearts of so many these days. I just don't understand it.

You are loved, Kristie.

Karen said...

Great post! We do really get wiser as we get older, don't we? =)

Kristie said...

Thanks, ladies. That's why you're my slisters! I don't understand that kind of behavior either. I do know that it was a very stressful time for all of us...layoffs and changes were imminent...but still...

Sally said...

I'm sad to hear about your colleagues. It is so baffling to be disliked for no clear reason but so freeing to let go of being bothered by it. I love your slookie wisdom!