I went to brunch with one of my best friends this weekend and something unexpected happened.
She pulled out a notebook and told me she was going to interview me.
It was 11am on a hung-over Saturday.
I gave her the best death stare I had. She gave me the “yep this is happening” look. And I gave up.
Friend was headed on a leadership retreat with her company and was given the assignment of interviewing 2 people she felt had “influenced” her.
I was pretty surprised she chose me. And Kinda honored. (OK really honored).
But definitely surprised.
Not because our friendship isn’t Awesome (it is) but because I had never stopped to think about the types of life-altering effects we’ve had on each other.
Best friends are not strangers that inspire you during a chance meeting or teachers, professors and superiors that you look up to. Best friends are, in some ways, extensions of you.
And this friend in particular could very well be my right arm, since we’ve been more or less inseparable for a decade. We met during orientation of Freshman year, lived on the same hallway, lived together Sophomore and Junior year, shared an apartment in New York City Junior summer when we were super cool and doing internships and lived together Senior year on the same floor. Post college we moved from one apartment to another in New York City for 5 years and then casually escaped Hurricane Sandy last Halloween when we drove ourselves (in a rented minivan) to Chicago where we became grown-ups and got our own apartments (less than a mile from each other).
It’s been 10 years. That’s more than 1/3 of my life that I’ve had this one friend by my side. Through the coming and going of boyfriends, tragedies, births, deaths, triumphs, games of flip cup, book clubs, travels to exotic destinations, costume parties and that one time we were “guests” on the Rachael Ray show (true story).
We’ve shared clothes, experiences, laughs, hugs and tears for 10 years.
So when friend pulled out a notebook out on a sunny fall day and told me I had influenced her, I was forced to put down the eggs benedict menu and give her a look that could only read “what are you talking about.”
During the next hour or so, while I devoured my much needed comfort food, friend fired a number of questions at me. Some I’m sure she knew the answers to. Some that brought up experiences I forgot existed, buried deep where I keep my childhood memories. Some that brought up new topics and conclusions we had never spoken to one another.
What is your favorite trait about yourself? My ability to connect with others.
Who has influenced you the most? My mom had the greatest influence on me before she passed.
Name a moment that stands out as time when you recognized your own leadership skills. When I was named a “team leader” while studying abroad in Madrid, Spain during my junior year of high school. I had just transferred to a new high school and was feeling out of place in my environment. Being so far away from home and in a new setting with other teenagers from around the world forced me to bring out my extroverted personality and gave me a clean slate to run with. There was a moment that I’ll never forget, when one of the program organizers pulled me aside after an event, and told me that the spirit I had shone through and she could foresee big things for me. I think my confidence grew twofold on that day.
How do you think you’ve influenced me? I think we probably push each other. I believe in surrounding myself with positive influences and support systems. I imagine it’s similar for you. My drive and ambitions push and inspire your own, as yours do for me.
What is one trait that you would change about yourself? I would like to be calmer and take things in stride. I would like to accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change the things I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference. Just like the quote. I’m working on it.
It was an unexpectedly deep Saturday morning. And definitely not your typical Friday-night-recap brunch.
Luckily, they had a Do-It-Yourself chili (It’s a thing) to which I added poached eggs, avocado, sour cream, chips, mushrooms and cilantro cream.
The chili was amazing. So was connecting in new ways with someone you lived with for 10 years and still see almost every week.
Maybe everyone should bring a list of life questions to brunch dates?