I have written quite a bit on my personal blog about relationships – my relationship with my partner Sean, my relationship with my son Aedan, with my family and with all of my close friends. Because I’ve already written about many of these (many times) and because I wanted to write about something new, I thought I’d write about a slightly different relationship in this post.
Almost four years ago now (wow, has it already been that long?), I interviewed for a position at the UMKC Women’s Center. While I only remember some of that interview with clarity (the endless questioning about my experience at an all-girls high school, the student that seemed less than impressed with me, the director’s super-cute capri pantsuit), I do remember feeling an almost instant connection with at least one person in the room – Brenda.
How to describe Brenda to someone who doesn’t know her? She is blunt, wicked smart and passionate. She produces more output than many of our colleagues (or anybody’s colleagues) combined – and not because she’s a workaholic (well, not entirely), but because she’s fast and loves what she does. In a meeting, we are more likely than not thinking the same snarky thought at the same time. In fact, we have often noted our tendency to “share a brain.” Our colleagues sometimes depend on one of us to stand up for them in meetings because we’re neither of us afraid to argue a point we know we can back up.
It was while working for Brenda that I first realized I could be using all this social media stuff professionally. She gave me room to explore and try new things. Most importantly, she was able to see the possibilities for social media in student affairs with me, a view not all of our division has caught up with yet.
If I need someone to cheer me up, to tell me to look at the “glass half full” side of life, I won’t call Brenda, and I think she knows that. But when I need someone to acknowledge with me that yes, that situation does indeed suck, and I am not crazy to think so, she’s usually my first call/email/text/Facebook message – and she always comes through, on whatever medium I choose.
Brenda has also help me come a long way in realizing that it’s just as important to take care of myself as the others in my life. This is something I have always struggled with, and though I continue to struggle with it, she has been able to help me see the logic in sometimes choosing myself over others. As she always reminds me, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we’ll be useless to take care of our family, our friends, or our students.
Once I spotted another position that would allow me to move up as well as challenge me on a different level, Brenda didn’t once stand in my way but encouraged me to apply. And now that we work together from a more similar position within the University, in some ways our relationship has gotten even stronger. We have continued to find other ways to work together – the Student Affairs Women Talk Tech blog, for example.
And if that’s not proof enough that we love each other, I can say that the only time I’ve ever seen Brenda cry was when she was giving a goodbye speech in my honor. It was possibly the most touching and sappiest moment we’ve shared, as usually the two of us are anything but.
Whether we move onto different jobs or different institutions, I think we both know we’re in each others’ lives for good. And that’s a pretty amazing thing to find at the office.