My friend Chris called me the other day. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary. We often call each other just to say “hi,” and check in with each other’s lives. Actually Chris doesn’t generally say “hi.” She normally begins our conversations with “Hola chica.” I don’t know why she starts this way, but I like it.
But this is beside the point. The point is that Chris called the other day to check in. She is currently jumping through hoops to achieve standing in an organization she works for. That’s fine. We all have hoops to jump through in one way or another. And when it’s for something we really want – and Chris really wants this – then it makes those hoops, perhaps not joyful, but more tolerable to jump through.
So she was telling me about the hoops, which are cleverly disguised as classes. She has to take one class on a subject for three Saturdays, seven hours per Saturday, for a total of 21 hours. This isn’t such a big deal to her, but she wasn’t happy that she found out she had a ton (there are other words I could use here that would more adequately express this amount, but they might not sound so nice on a blog) of prep work to complete before her first class. It wasn’t the work or the amount of it that bothered her, it was the short notice she received. In less than a week she had to read 100 pages of a book that had yet to be ordered, write a reflection paper based on specific questions and prepare a presentation to give to the class. Chris being Chris, she got it all done. No hemming. No hawing. No procrastination. She did it.
But it occurred to me as she was relating these events that this class was basically a 21 hour version of a class she already took for a semester when she was earning her Master’s degree from a renowned Ivy League university. So I said, “Uh. But wait? Didn’t you take this class in school? At a renowned Ivy League university? Why do you have to repeat it? Shouldn’t that count?” And Chris’s response was a resigned “I know.” In fact she said that a lot during our conversation. I would state what should have been patently obvious, and she would say, “I know.”
To an outsider this might seem like a pointless conversation. Yet in the context of a friendship, I think it’s helpful, necessary even, to have someone in our lives who’s willing to state what should be obvious to everyone else if only they would just pay attention already. I think it’s important to have someone else give us the opportunity to say, “I know.”
I can only guess that this was helpful to Chris (although I did have her approve this blog before I published it, so if you’re reading this, it was). On the other side of this coin, there have been countless times when I’ve called her and she’s done the same for me. She’s stated what I know to be true and given me permission to say, “I know.” And yes, it was and is helpful.
It seems to me we all need friends who are willing to state truths. Sometimes they’re hard truths that we have to hear when we are in complete and utter denial. Chris has been this kind of friend to me. But we also need friends who are willing to state our truth, obvious as that truth should be, out loud. We need friends who will be outraged or insulted or just plain irritated along with us. It’s advocacy in a way. It reminds us that we’re not alone. We’re not crazy. Someone else gets it. Someone else knows that we know. Chris does this for me too. I will continue to be that kind of friend to her. And so on. I can also state unequivocally that I’m blessed to have a lot of other friends in my life who show me this kind of love as well. You know who you are.
So keep jumping through the hoops Chris. Some of them will not make sense, but I trust that the outcome will be well worth it. If your talents and skills are finally recognized, then there is no doubt. Go ahead. You can say it. “I know.”