A hyphen acts as a symbol that brings two separate words together to create one unified word, with new meaning. This symbol connects us, symbolically, with those souls whose paths miraculously cross our own in this moment on earth. If by chance a hyphen is formed between the two, regardless of time or circumstance, these souls now have new meaning due to one another. We are simply people made up of other people. The hyphen connects. The hyphen creates. The hyphen paints the big picture. Writers for this blog series have chosen people in their lives whom they feel they'd be someone different, or less, without. Together they create new meaning.
I never thought a group of young adults I went to highschool with, but never talked to while in school, would one day become, not only my best friends, but the people I would credit with changing my life the most.
Believe me, I would not be where I am today without the interactions I had with them the summer of 2014.
Almost two years after graduating high school, I wasn’t where I had planned on being in life. I was working more than 40 hours a week between three jobs, had taken a few online college courses, only to quit because I was so miserable, and had finally given up on my plans and dream of perusing musical theater. I was still in the same town where I was born and raised, feeling nothing but stuck, lonely and sorry for myself.
Enter in the catalyst of my many life changers: Andrew.
Andrew and I were in the same graduating class - a class of 54 - yet I had never said a word to him before the day I met him. I had been up the entire night before (helping deliver a baby. Ask me about this one later - it’s a great story!) and we were in the midst of supervising an 8 hour rehearsal with a group of wayward musical theater students rehearsing for their show that was going up in just one week. By this time of day, I was borderline delirious. Somehow, he was able to get past my bloodshot eyes and fumbled words and we hit it off and became fast friends.
He used to talk about his dream of a collective of creative minded people who loved Jesus who would gather and talk with each other to talk about art, God and share our lives.
Andrew began introducing me to all these people; gifted creatives, dreamers, painters, builders, musicians, dancers, a magician and people who could tell ridiculously mundane things in the most fascinating way - a ragtag, gaggle of young adults who loved Jesus with all their hearts and wanted to create the best possible stuff they could with their individual medium. We slowly started hanging out, and then the group began spending more and more time together, until we were making a nightly effort to meet up. The most beautiful part of this was that with each gathering, we added in numbers. Turns out, there were tons of people in my city that all desired this sort of community!
It felt like magic being in the room with so many brilliant minds.
Have you ever met someone you could talk to for hours? Not small talking to each other asking frivolous questions, but someone who took the time with you to have big, meaningful and thought provoking conversations? Their very presence makes you feel inspired to work harder, dream bigger and strive to excel in all things. Now, imagine having ten of this sort of person around you at all times. How would that impact you?
Nothing compares to a beautiful conversation with a beautiful mind!
It challenged me. I was no longer afraid to talk out loud about what ideas I had. I could speak out about an idea, dream, or project I wanted to do and could get feed back on it, or someone would offer to help me achieve what I wanted. We would pass around books, coffee, information and ideas like you pass around food dishes at the dinner table.
This collective of people became my family at a time of my life when I was headed in such a weird way, coming off of dealing with a friend’s sudden death, working through the disappointment of not getting the chance to fulfill the desires and dreams I thought I wanted. Throughout out this time, I was encouraged by my friends to try new mediums and experiment in mediums where I wasn’t necessarily “good” to figure out what I loved so I could work at it and get better. Failure, while not the goal, was an option. Even if I did fail, it was never shameful, It was a learning process! I had figured out how to fail, learn from it and move on without missing a beat or tearing myself up about it and was able to share what happened regularly with a community that genuinely cared and wanted to hear about what was going on in my life. I could write novels of the experiences and life changing events I had and still not cover everything!
To my dismay, this creative collective lasted only a summer. However, my time with this unique group of goobers, thinkers and doers shaped me then and challenges me even now.
That summer was about learning to be who I am in total honesty, and learning to boldly talk about the truth of Christ and how he changed me.
It really felt like a tiny seed was planted and is growing within me to this day - and I am really proud of how it is turning out!