I rarely check my mail anymore. Unless I’m expecting something from a client, I know it’s mostly going to be junk. But yesterday I had just finished a run and wasn’t quite ready to go inside yet (it’s been GORGEOUS in Charlotte lately), so I decided to swing by the ole mailbox and see what was up. Instead of the usual crap, I found a package from my favorite teacher from high school. He had sent me a book he thought I would like, and on the first page was an awesome, super English teacher-y note. I was so excited I walked around clutching the thing to my chest like Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
Getting that book in the mail got me thinking about how my friendship with this teacher has lasted for 11 years. ELEVEN YEARS. That’s a long time. When he first met me I was an insecure 10th grader, unsure about where I fit into the school culture and hoping to get into a good college. From there we progressed to college, where he heard about my first experience with L-O-V-E, studying abroad in London, and so many other important moments, both fun and not-so-fun. Later, he encouraged me as I picked up my worldly possessions and started a new, adult life and a writing career in Charlotte. Meanwhile I’ve watched his kids go from baby nuggets to teenagers. It’s pretty crazy to think about.
Reflecting on this long-term friendship got me analyzing the types of exchanges I have during a typical week. While I see my best friends regularly (and talk to my long-distance BFFs on the phone) I also spend a significant amount of time going to networking events. It’s an important part of getting yourself established in a new city. I love meeting new people, but those situations set you up almost entirely for casual chit chat as you’re getting to know the other person.
What do you do?
Where are you from?
What brought you to Charlotte?
What do you do on the weekends?
If you only have those kinds of connections in your life, eventually you’re going to start overdosing on small talk. That’s why it’s important to balance your social circle. Keep working on forming new friendships or business relationships. Throw down roots in your new city. That’s awesome and admirable. But give equal attention to the connections that have stuck with you through different phases in your life too, whether it’s with your college roomie or a cousin you’ve always felt close to. It’s easy to say, “Let’s catch up on the phone soon!” or “Let’s plan a time when I can come visit!” and then never actually follow through with these things. Make them a priority. There’s something so good for your mental health about talking with someone who’s lived your past with you firsthand and appreciates you because of it.
Plus, who doesn’t love getting snail mail, right?