…you spend the most time with.
Until a few years ago, I would have agreed wholeheartedly that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Those we associate with bend and shape us in their molds, while we influence them far more than we realize. Now there are no longer five people to hang out with. There are groups of people instead, so I’ll look at those.
Our first influence in life, for better or worse, is our family: parents, brothers and sisters, pets, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. Yet my family is way out there, across more than one ocean. They often pop up in my head or in my behavior but they no longer act as part of the average of who I am. Or do they?
There is email to and from many of them, when each of us has the time to write and reply, sifting through electronic reams of spam, even with filters. Yet – ahah! – now there is Skype! How much fun to see how we’ve changed, even though voices are familiar. How touching to see the facial expressions that accompany the tone of voice. How fascinating to watch the family genes come out in different individuals.
Second, even when working away from home, I spent most of my time with an ailing husband who had multiple illnesses. Even before he became physically ill with cancer and arthritis, he had been tormented by bipolar disorder for decades. That in itself dragged me down faster than anything. I know I’m strong and have been told by multiple people this is so. But as screenwriter Gary H. Cook has said, “Sometimes being strong is a very lonely place to be.” I soon learned to make my own happiness wherever I could, and now that God has mercifully ended my husband’s pain and suffering, I’m picking up the shards of my own dreams.
Friends and Best Friends
Third, friends are often our strongest moral support, whether they live near or far. To paraphrase one of my co-workers: God sends you friends when relatives just aren’t “there” for you. My friends currently live from 2 miles to 7,500 miles away. Some I have known for 20 years, others since high school. You all know what it’s like with the truest of friends. The bond is so tight that even though you don’t see each other often, when you do get together, it’s as though you had never been apart.
Fourth, since I work from home as a technical writer, my virtual co-workers are in and out of my day — and I, theirs — all day long. We share jokes and frustrations and the lunacy that often happens with our responsibilities. They are all that remain of my professional network, since I have not been able to attend writers’ meetings or conferences lately. Now that I’m training to be a copywriter, against the day my very accommodating employer potentially might no longer need me, I’m developing yet another side to my personality. New copywriter colleagues understand what copywriting and creativity are all about and I’m happy to shout Yay! about that.
Finally, I’ve decided favorite authors count in this personality averaging! Besides being an author, writer and editor, I read as much as I can. Some of my favorites have passed away and I miss their characters and plots. Others have veered into paths I don’t like. Some are dealing with the vagaries of old age. I’ve added new writers to test but too many writers have bowed to the demands of their publishers who think the public only buys vulgar books. Let’s hear it for independent publishing!
Five people do help make me what I am, even though one or more may alternate with another from their group on any given day! They have been influential in my finding my own voice as a writer, and in the world community.