I had a boss, a long time ago, at Internationally-Known-Non-Profit-Agency-of-Ill-Repute, who was a big proponent of having A Friend at Work, and encouraged us to get to know one another, socialise, connect outside of our workspace. She said everyone needed People. So we did. Socialise, get to know one another, connect outside of work. And from that came P and L, two of my long-time People: friendships that have survived and thrived through weddings and kiddos and grad school and career changes and new homes and big moves. My girls. My People.
When I moved to a new country for grad school, my dad loaded all my earthly belongings into his horse trailer and drove me down there. Once I was all set up in my teeny weeny apartment, he did the long drive home alone, and later told me he found it really hard to drive away and leave me in a town where I had no People. Funny thing is, I remember watching his truck leave my parking spot, and thinking: “Ok, I have a house, furniture, groceries, a sense of where to find things in this town. Next up: I need to find me some People.”
I found me some People, and they remain My People to this day.
A few years ago, my first year at This School, at a time when it was In Transition and longtime staff regarded new staff with the squinty eyes of suspicion. Hard to find People when no one trusts anyone. I found ONE: a grade one teacher, also new, also regarded with suspicion. If you can’t have People, have A Person. That grade one teacher is still My Person, although I have People now, too.
Today, straggling with My People (including my boss, who is totally one of My People) after a meeting… A colleague, relatively new to our school, an amazing teacher. She teaches some of my students from years ago, describes them in the very same words I used when they were kindergarteners. From her today: tears, at feeling alone in her desire to question pedagogy, at being at odds with her team, misunderstood. A realization: she doesn’t need advice. She needs some People. We get her. We love our students the way she does. We ask the same hard questions. We find the same quirky, sometimes dark, humour, in working with young children. She’s us. She’s People.
So, we’ll be her People. We’ll invite her to lunch and share our jokes and make note of her Starbucks order.
We all need People. We need to find our People. We need to be People to others. Your People may be in the classroom next door or across the hall or up the stairs. They may not be. They may not even be in your school (or office or centre, or wherever you earn your paycheque), although just like my long-ago boss, I think we all do better at work if we have at least a Person. Your people may be on The Twitterz (like some of my best People are). They may be commenters on your blog (hello, blog People!). They may be in a course you take or sitting next to you at a meeting.
Find your People. Be People.
This job is too hard to do alone.
People need People.