2022 is officially here and I’m not going to lie, it’s starting to feel like deja-vu all over again.
The holidays came and went, and while I would have normally looked forward to catching up with my Team about their holidays over one of our Friday office breakfasts, it seems like these kinds of gatherings will be “tentative” for the foreseeable future.
And to be clear, my Team prefers working from home – and so do I.
We will never return to a full office, but for that little sweet spot of time between delta and omicron, we were all able to gather for unofficial, and – let’s be honest – enjoyable functions like dinners and happy hours.
In those moments I was reminded of how much better it is to break bread over the sound of laughter.
And while I treasure that time we got to share at the end of 2021, over the past several weeks, I felt myself becoming increasingly bitter about the fact that for reasons completely out of my control, my Team and I can’t meet face to face right now.
Then, as he often does, my counselor texted me to remind me of our next appointment and gave me some things he wanted me to think about before we had our next session.
To boil it down, he asked me to positively reflect on two things.
What I’ve learned and what I want to carry forward going into this new year.
Not really in the thankful mood, I began trying to explore where this frustration was coming from, especially in the face of so many things to be grateful for – things like those fleeting gatherings; not just office parties, but trips to see family, and mask-free meals with my friends.
And when I got down to the core of it, I realized that I was in mourning for the joy that in-person connections bring to relationships.
It made me think of the famous quote by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
“My humanity is bound up in yours, because we can only be human together.”
It’s a go to phrase to say, “business is all about relationships,” but the older I get the more firmly I believe that Life is all about relationships – not just business.
And in case you’ve never been in one, let me be the first to tell you that relationships are HARD.
They take WORK.
And most importantly, they take COMPROMISE.
The question I found myself asking a lot these past two years is, “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be in a relationship?”
There are so many people in my orbit who I disagree with on some pretty polarizing things, but I’ve learned that if a relationship is solid and serves you well, you typically don’t throw it away on a single condition.
Now of course, like everything, there are exceptions to this rule, but I’ve found it to be a pretty good one throughout my life.
This got me thinking about something we talk about a lot on Legal Grounds and that’s the concept of Grace.
I think it’s all too easy for many of us to forget that Grace is actually what I’ll call a two-way attitude.
Commonly we think of Grace as something we either extend to others or something that is bestowed on us by an outside party.
And this is true.
But I’ll argue that giving OURSELVES grace might be even more important than the grace we give to others.
Afterall, it’s easier for me to wrap my head around “Well, this person screwed up and that’s kind of frustrating to me, but hey – they’re only human, right?”
Now oppose that with how MORTIFIED I get when I’m the person who can’t connect to the ZOOM call or forgets to text back or drops the ball on a deadline.
Ironically, at the core of this anxiety is a false belief that OTHERS won’t extend their Grace.
And if we dig a little deeper, that false belief most likely comes from a fear of the fact that there are STILL moments where I must actively remind myself to show Grace to others.
And I say “actively” because as I mentioned earlier, it’s these kinds of moments in relationships that require work, not autopilot emotions.
And that’s where the two-way attitude of grace comes back.
I HAVE TO give myself Grace, because if I’m constantly expecting any sort of perfection from myself, I quickly lose the bandwidth to give it to others.
Put simply, I’ve had to remind myself that taking care of myself it’s not selfish.
And the more I think about it, it is the most generous thing I can do for those in my lifeworld.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the way this younger generation makes mental health a priority is nothing short of inspiring.
And it has been through their example (and plenty of counseling) that 2021 was a year where I felt like I got a lot more comfortable with the notion of vulnerability.
As for what I want to carry forward into this next year, and all the ones that follow it, is the way all of the chaos of the past years has helped to expand my concept of patience.
I think it would be a safe statistic to say that any time you’re trying to hold a virtual meeting with more than 2 people, there is almost an 80% guarantee of some sort of technical error at some point during that meeting.
And as funny as the “lawyer cat” zoom filter or the supreme court toilet flush moments were, in reality, we all had to watch each other struggle and learn in real-time.
At times it felt like the blind leading the blind, but – at least when it came to our Firm’s team – we all learned in the end, and we all supported each other along the way.
Now if there’s anything I’ve learned from hosting a podcast, it’s to end more thoughts with question marks than periods or exclamation points. My job and this show has been, and continues to be, a constant reminder that no one person is the keeper of wisdom.
We all have so much to learn from one another, and I am so thankful for the guests who come on to this program to share their wisdom.
I’m also thankful for having an audience of listeners who are more curious than they are anything else.
Your support means the world.
I read recently that the great Betty White once said “Everybody needs a passion. That’s what keeps life interesting. If you live without passion, you can go through life without leaving any footprints.”
So, if anything, let’s all get ready to leave some footprints on shores of 2022.