Finding Your People

Another year around the sun begins. I, like many of you, am taking time this month to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. For me, this new year happens to kick off with a change in employment. And as I wrap up my first week at Armstrong McGuire the first words that come to mind are, “I think I’ve found my people.”

I struggled in 2022. It was a year of learning how to navigate a new normal, and I definitely felt the growing pains. I tend to cope with struggles and hardships through avoidance. But 2022 threw me some curveballs I couldn’t ignore.

It started out with, what I thought was, a sinus infection. After a week of treating it with the usual remedies I only felt worse. I decided to go to urgent care with the intention of getting an antibiotic. Fast forward to additional trips to urgent care, three trips to the emergency room, and more visits to my primary care doctor than I can remember, it is safe to say I was not dealing with a sinus infection. In fact, I was a “medical anomaly” according to one doctor. I was told anything from you have a bad cold, to you have the worst case of laryngitis we have ever seen, to you have a bad case of pneumonia, to you actually have three masses on your lungs that are potentially cancerous. As someone who had never even stepped foot in an ER prior to this experience, it was all a lot to digest. While I wish this story ended with a proper diagnosis, the truth is my team of doctors never figured out the underlying issue, though they have suspicions. (Thankfully, a biopsy confirmed no cancer!)

Our people: family, friends, neighbors showed up for us in a big way during this time. Every phone call, text, meal, card, and errand meant the world. It reminded me of the power of community. Something I had lost sight of during the pandemic and the year that followed due to isolation.

If dealing with a medical crisis was not enough, I was laid off from my job in 2022. I made a career change in 2021 and went to work for a real estate law firm. The majority of my team was let go due to the economic downturn and I, unfortunately, didn't make the cut. Previously, I worked in the nonprofit sector in administrative and fundraising capacities. Being laid off is humbling, to say the least. While I appreciated the growth opportunities and new skills I acquired at the firm, I could never shake the feeling like I was the round peg trying to fit in the square hole. I missed my people. Those, who like me, thrive in spaces where we can tangibly see how the work we do makes a positive impact in the lives of the people and communities we serve. After some reflection I realized this layoff was for the best.

An email came through my inbox at the end of December with a subject line that caught my attention: “How to build a happier 2023.” Intrigued, I clicked into the email to see it was a Q&A with Associate Editor of The Atlantic, Isabel Fattal, and producer of The Atlantic podcast How to Build a Happy Life, Rebecca Rashid. Isabel inquired about a new formula for happiness discussed in a recent episode of the podcast. Rebecca noted the following:

“The happiness formula that’s prevalent in Western well-being practices is focused on habits: a lot of self-management and individualized, autonomous behaviors that will eventually lead you to being happy. But the psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, who has led one of the longest studies on human happiness, told us that the key to a happy life is our relationships—the reliability of them, the longevity of them, the depth of them.

That sounds really obvious and simple, but lots of things make it difficult for us to form lasting relationships, such as increased use of technology, remote work, and the way the pandemic has made some of us accustomed to isolation. So, the new formula for happiness is basically investing in, reinvesting in, or creating relationships in a world that doesn’t always make that easy.

I cannot help but think that you all, the thought leaders, innovators, and community builders that make up the Armstrong McGuire network, already live out this formula for happiness daily. It is why we all find fulfilment in the work that we do, even on the hard days. So, here’s to a new year of continued growth, renewal, and not losing sight of what matters most… our people.

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