Life, Work

The Giving Keys (Part II): Who I Gave My Key To

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Over a month ago (time is flying — it’s almost THANKSGIVING!), I blogged about a product/company, The Giving Keys (Part I): A Pay It Forward Company that I have loved for many years and shared how I was exposed to it.

On October 2, I gave my key away to my friend, John, who also just happens to be a [now, previous] coworker. Funny how I could hate my job so much but walk away from it with lifelong friends. This friendship is special because at surface level, many would not understand how our friendship came to be. In short, it is because of the caring, inquisitive, and dynamic person he is, characteristics that were necessary to get me to open up. I’ve always been skeptical of having close friendships with coworkers… topic for another blog.

My first true interaction with John was him stopping me in the hallway to ask me what my key represented and why I wore it. I explained The Giving Keys to him and told him that I do intend to give it to someone else, but for now I’m holding onto the message of STRENGTH until I cross paths with someone that I feel truly needs it more than me. The interaction struck me…

No one had ever asked about my key before.

On my first day as a newly promoted manager, he perched himself up in my office threshold and congratulated me, saying he wanted to treat me to lunch to celebrate my accomplishment. I should add that I can count the number of congratulations I got for my promotion on my two hands and, besides my immediate supervisor, John was the only person who suggested that it was something to celebrate. Yet, somehow, it took me months to accept his offer. I look back and realize that I was skeptical of his goodness.

Are people at work really this genuine?

For me, that lunch was the turning point from colleagues to friends. At lunch, he took an immediate interest in the fact that I ordered a veggie burger and inquired more about what vegetarianism looked like for me. Over time, I found myself in his office confiding in him about my relationship struggles, my weekend adventures, and eventually, the launching of my blog. He was my first blog-subscriber when I launched, promoted it on his Facebook, and has been a faithful reader… literally giving me quick-witted feedback on every single blog. Example: After reading True Life: All My Exes Have Radar, he sent me a picture of Hostess Ding-Dongs, since I referred to my exes as Ding-Dongs in that blog. Clever, right?

In more recent months, he had been one of my biggest supporters in my recent job hunt… helping me draft the “Thank You” e-mail after my big interview, and being a sounding-board as I made the decision to give my resignation when I didn’t get that job. In turn, I hope that he feels I have been the same type of supportive friend to him.

Indeed, he has confided in me about some very personal struggles he has been experiencing for years. I will not share them here as they are not my melodies to tell. But, as I enter a new chapter of my life, I feel like I’ve already shown my strength in walking away from a job that no longer served me in any way, outside of the friendships I’ve formed. When I submitted my resignation letter, while wearing my key, I might note, I was liberated.

I told him the night before that I would be submitting my notice the next day. His response: “Excited for you! I’ll be losing an angel because she FOUND her wings.”

I knew in that moment that I’d be giving the key to him. Funny, I was drafting Part I and Part II of this blog while watching him and yet another coworker/friend play tennis. In between tennis games, he walked by me and asked where my key was… and before I could answer he said, “I guess you don’t need it anymore. You already unlocked the door.”

I smiled to myself, knowing I’d be giving him the key just a few weeks later. I decided to write out a message, because obviously, I am a better with written word. This is what I said:

“You are the only person who ever asked me about this key. It is and always has been a symbol of the strength within me. I am now giving it to you. You are already strong, but in the times when you forget that, or you feel like you need a constant reminder, hold onto this key and remember how many tough times it got me through. Too, remember how it eventually led me to leaving behind something that no longer served me… in pursuit of happiness, even though that happiness also came with a lot of unknown. As a new favorite author, Rachel Hollis, said, [Our lives] are supposed to be a journey from one unique place to another; it’s not supposed to be a merry-go round that brings you back to the same spot over and over again. Find your strength and your wings in whatever way you need. Once you do… give this key to the next person who needs it. And if you would, share a little piece of me with that person too, even if it’s just referring them to my blog.”

I know he will, as he let me know in his return letter to me.

If you’ve made it this far, I challenge you to think of a friend who might need a constant reminder of their STRENGTH, COURAGE, or FAITH… or need to be reminded to BREATHE or be FEARLESS. Do you know someone battling cancer? Someone who just lost a loved one? Or maybe a couple struggling with infertility? Why not send them a Giving Key??? If you need more inspiration, you can read more stories like mine at the Pay It Forward Blog. I promise that this is one of the most meaningful and thoughtful gifts they’ll ever receive!

FEATURED IMAGE BY: THE GIVING KEYS
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