There are a lot of instances in the past when I’ve been affected by someone I’ve met for a very short period of time who doesn’t really remember who I am.
I’m thinking back to when I was recruiting how there was this one girl I talked to at an information session who convinced me to recruit for finance. Recently, I saw on LinkedIn that she had started a new role at some VC firm in Europe, and I was happy for her. It’s been around two years since we last talked, and I suspect she has a hazy recollection of who I am, at least requiring ample reminding. I was not a big part in her life, but she was a big part in my life. It is weird to know I probably won’t interact with her for the rest of my life.
I remembered I followed up with her a couple of months after I started working, and we had a nice chat on Zoom. I forgot exactly what we talked about, but I remembered that it was just a normal chat like those you have senior year when you bump into someone you met in a freshman writing seminar — a bit nostalgic but mostly procedural. For most of the call, I was just thinking about how grateful I was to this person for the help she gave me during the recruiting process. She doesn’t know that, of course, but that’s how it was.
It’s so random how I ended up here at my current company. Recruiting, in general, was a shitshow because I had no idea what I was doing. At the time, I was trying to explore all of my options as quickly as possible, so I went to basically every info session across every industry I could. I came into this particular info session late because I was coming from another one across campus. I talked to a lot of people after the presentation, but she was the only person whose email I remembered. We had a 20-minute chat and exchanged a couple of emails afterwards, and then I eventually I received an offer at my current company. It really made a difference in my life, and it’s hard to imagine my life currently without my current job. I’m not sure I would’ve landed this job without the help she gave.
Now that I’m on the other side of the boat, it’s hard to imagine myself in her position. Recruiting is such a routine part of professional life, and I have roughly the same conversation with most prospective candiates. When I receive an email from an undergrad, it doesn’t really matter to me if I respond or not. My day is more-or-less the same regardless if I take any calls. I sometimes forget how clueless I was during undergrad, and how helpful certain conversations were in helping me figure out what I valued.
It’s weird how some people have a very large impact on your life, and they might not even now it. I don’t know what I would do with my life if I didn’t work in finance, and it’s hard to imagine my life, in retrospect, taking another direction because it’s such a core part of who I am.
Outside of the professional world, there are a lot of people with whom I’ve spent a very short amount of time but have changed me in pretty profound ways. I think certain teachers I’ve had both inspired me and disillusioned me in both a positive and negative manner. Some teachers inspire me; other teachers just make me dislike teachers. It’s a delicate balance. I think a lot of girls I used to date have informed me of what I consider to be attractive. I think there are also girls who I didn’t date who have the same effect on me. A lot of my personality is shaped around impressing certain girls in college, and these personality traits I’ve picked up have tended to stick around even now.
I go back and forth between thinking this is a bad thing or a good thing. On one hand, it is a position where I don’t have power. By definition, other people are influencing me significantly more than I am influencing them. Lately, I’ve begun to think about it differently. At the end of the day, it’s my personal development. There is always going to a positive in the past, when I was weaker, to now, when I have more control over my life, where I am put in the position where I am influenced. I can’t help but ask how inevitable it is in a world where a small selection of your interactions with people informs a majority of your personal development.
There’s a desire to be close to the people who have influenced you in your life. I want to be close the people who have shaped me, but I understand that this might not always be the case. More obviously, I can’t exactly be friends with Lana Del Rey. Less obviously, there is a lot of spontaneity and randomness to the creation of intimacy, and the opportunities don’t always present themselves. I’ve realized that it’s also okay to let go to be close to the people who have shaped you to become the way you are. Not all influence has to be equal, even though sometimes we want it to be.
For a long time when thinking of this imbalance, my mind goes directly to shame. The thought goes: I feel shame for allowing my life to be affected by someone in such a significant way when I have not had the same effect on them. I think, in a lot of cases, I am thinking this in context to negative emotions like grief, heartbreak, and longing. After all, it’s not a great feeling to pine over a one-night stand who probably forgot your name a week later. I frequently forget about the positive instances of imbalance because it doesn’t fit this narrative I created in my head. When I do remember the positive instances, I do exercise gratitude, but remembering those positive instances doesn’t really come naturally to me.
I think moving forward, I’ll try to be okay with letting myself get affected by others. It shows that I am connected to people and that I am allowing myself to be changed. I am taking part of the intimacy process, even when it puts me in a position of weakness.