I was recently speaking to a friend who had broken ties with a guy she had been casually dating. Even though the relationship was not long (only a few months), she nonetheless still found herself struggling with how to move on – yet again.
“I’m tired of this,” she complained to me a few evenings ago when we spoke. “I would like to meet someone, but I don’t think I can go on this way anymore. The sadness I feel every time a relationship doesn’t work out is just too overwhelming. I think I’m done.”
I listened to her and empathized with the intense emotions she was obviously experiencing. Then I asked her this: “If you could go back in time knowing what you know now, would you still choose to date him?”
My friend hesitated. “Yes,” she said after a few minutes.
“Now tell me why,” I pressed.
Again, my friend went silent until, finally, she said, “Because I had fun.”
Her answer was simple yet meaningful. I let the words sit for a moment before applying their relevance to this latest disappointment and the message she unknowingly communicated to me.
“Life,” I reminded my friend, “is not about winning and losing. And what we often expect to gain from a social interaction, any social interaction, does not usually turn out to be what we walk away with from it in the end. However, if we look hard enough, guaranteed, there always exists a reason why we crossed paths with a particular person in the first place or found ourselves at a certain location.”
And that is how I see my life.
I do not believe in random occurrences. Instead, I recognize the confluence of forces converging at strategic junctures in my life. Like last summer. That same friend I mentioned and I decided last minute to meet for dinner at a neighborhood restaurant. Both of us were feeling down and less optimistic than normal about our respective futures and needed a night out to unwind. We also knew we wanted to work together but had not yet figured out how. At first, I did not want to go but, looking back, I am so glad I did.
While there, we caught the last few minutes of a segment on TV about a woman who, embracing her entrepreneurial spirit and going against the odds, created a line of accessories that has now become a mainstay in the closets of women worldwide. I had always dreamed of doing the same, but always hemmed and hawed that the timing was not right and let life keep getting in the way. On this night, I took my seeing that clip as a sign and, shortly afterward, set the ball in motion, even amidst the obstacles I faced at the time.
Guess what? I am so happy I did because Elle Squared and its merchandise, including the hottest items from my new private label, was featured on the Today Show for a second time last week. I credit simply changing my scenery and going for a girls’ night out on that hot summer night to the change I ultimately made in my life. As it turned out, a blah night became a great one.
Not long after, my friend and I also began working together on a series of projects that cross my many endeavors, further evidencing that we were each meant to be at dinner that night many months ago. Though the significance of the evening for each of us varied, and the intention for us when we first walked in the door was simply to have fun, the universe had other plans. Which is why I am also pretty sure that had we gone out to work or network we may have never had the experience we did. The reward only came because, after years of life experience, I have learned to keep my mind open to the fluid nature of relationships, especially how they begin, end, or, as the case may be, evolve. My friend and I are still buddies, but we also collaborate creatively now, too.
Without a doubt, it is commendable to plan and set goals, whether personally or professionally. Likewise, there is nothing to be ashamed of for setting expectations or maintaining hope that you will derive a certain benefit from an interaction, friendship or otherwise, brief or long lasting. The key is to recognize that a positive outcome is always present, even if on the surface it does not immediately appear so. Sometimes we have to discover it for ourselves.
My friend’s latest dating efforts may not have ended the way she intended. Still, once she took the relationship for what it was, gave it the significance it deserved, she realized she had not wasted time. Having fun, enjoying oneself, is as worthwhile a pastime as any, especially when we cut ourselves some much-needed slack given our busy schedules and endless obligations.
So take a trip. Indulge in that glass of cabernet with dinner and an espresso with dessert. Put aside your work for the evening and eat dinner with a friend. Make time for a hike or a lazy morning in bed reading the Sunday paper. Indulge yourself with an unexpected addition to your closet or collection of jewels. Give to yourself and, most importantly, enjoy the moment. “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” – Alice Earle
Doni Feinberg Landy, Esq. is a mom, entrepreneur, store owner, lawyer, blogger, talent manager/agent, bag lady, and jewelry junkie.