Surrounding Yourself With Good People
Every Tuesday morning you can find me at Quay Coffee in the River Market chatting it up with 4 good dudes. We've been meeting once a week for 4-5 years now. We challenge one another. We pick each other up. We support & encourage each other. Most importantly, we aren't afraid of being honest with one another. Sometimes you need to be told the hard things you already know you need to do that you probably don't want to hear because you know what you need to do but you're running from it. We've taken a few road trips, hiked 14'ers, ate good food & dreamed big together. 5 dudes hugging, laughing, crying in a coffee shop.
I think back to who I was when I started meeting for coffee (I don't drink coffee but the rest of the fellas do). I was a family & wedding photographer who happened to create an intentional living family blog with my wife. Life was good back then. I don't remember many struggles in my life. We traveled, had plenty of date nights, always had plenty of time with people we loved. Looking back now, life seemed so much easier!
Then Max got sick. My boys were there.
Jenny & I decided to pursue other endeavors as main sources of income & those didn't pan out. My boys were there.
Max & Ava got diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. My boys were there.
Jenny's twin brother passed way. My boys were there.
Marriage was getting hard for Jenny & I. My boys were there.
Looking back now, I can't count the number of times that I arrived on Tuesday morning feeling like crap, confused or angry, upset, out of it, wanting to just quit everything I had going & then leaving feeling like I knew the path I was supposed to be taking. My boys were there through it all & at any time day or night.
I share this because I've heard through the years it's hard for guys to find other guys they feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with. I've heard how it's not common for guys to meet like this so often & connect on these levels. When I hear that, it makes me sad. Because we all need safe spaces to embrace our fully human selves.
How did we do it? How did we create such an intentionally tight-knit group of fellas?
It started small. It was just my buddy, Graham, saying he had a friend, Rusty, and that we should meet. We were all 3 going to meet at a coffee shop, Graham bailed last minute, and Rusty & I chatted for a few hours. We decided to make a weekly coffee meet up, just the 3 of us.
Another dude, Jason, happened to frequent the coffee shop we were meeting at every week because his studio was upstairs. He'd come over and say hey, we'd invite him to sit down, he'd always politely decline until one day he didn't. Our group was now 4.
I had another friend who I felt could add a lot to our group, so I invited him in. It took a while for everyone to be on board in growing again, but now that's been 3 years of us 5, it feels just right every Tuesday morning. Our group grew organically & slowly over time. Most things of worth take time, right?
If you're looking to build up a group for yourself, ask yourself who that one person is in your life that makes you feel comfortable enough to show your darkness inside. Because the people you can show your darkness too, but still stick around to help show you your light...those are the friends you need to surround yourself with. Once you find them, figure out how to bring them together. If you only have one, ask if they have a friend who they feel that way about. Invite them in.
Just know that every time you add a new person, the dynamics & energy change. Some people aren't willing to open up, and that's ok. You just don't want them in a group of people who are willing, because that energy transforms the group in ways that affect everyone else's ability to go deep.
I headed home Tuesday morning feeling so full & alive & seen & loved. And I thought to myself, I hope every one has a group of people they can connect with in this way on a consistent basis. It's so important for us to know we're not alone in our struggles. To know that we will mess up from time to time & to know that we've got people who root for us despite our screw ups. We all need that support. When we feel supported & accepted we carry that positive love filled energy with us wherever we go.