Surrounding yourself with the right people Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

There are many ways to describe and define the people in your life. Some are happy, some are wealthy. Many are healthy and a few are entirely difficult and unlikeable. Regardless of your opinion, in the end, in all their variety, everyone we know falls into one of three groups.

I'll describe the first group using my friend Dave. When I was in high school, I was involved with my school's theater group. At the time, I was extremely uncomfortable in front of crowds, so I worked behind the scenes.

One year, our group's play was chosen to compete in a competition. While the actors rehearsed in an unfamiliar environment, I had to figure out how to light the stage effectively while facing extreme limitations. I had no control over where the lights were placed, and I couldn't add or move any that were there.

I felt stressed. After hours of frustration, Dave came to the booth where I was working. As the lead actor, he'd seen my attempts to solve the problem from the stage. Without any complaint, he walked me through what was needed and helped me find a solution. Thanks to his patience, the performance was excellent and I discovered new skills and abilities that remain with me today.

In the second group is a former co-worker, Sarah. When I arrived at my first job after college graduation, a producer at a very small television station, she was one of my reporters. As part of my job, in addition to my daily responsibilities, I was tasked with creating a database of political candidates.

Two days before Election Day, Sarah erased my database. She couldn't explain how but was vaguely apologetic. That didn't undo the damage, however. I had no choice but to re-create two months of work in two days.

The third group of people also includes a former co-worker. I thought Michelle and I were close. But after a traumatic death in my family, she had no interest in helping me through my difficult time. Not only did she distance herself from my life, she actively worked to make it more difficult. Soon after, I moved on and found a new job.

Dave, Sarah, and Michelle appear to have very little in common, but they represent the three groups of people in our lives: Dave came to me in an hour of need and helped me during a difficult situation; Sarah didn't see how she affected those around her and created a difficult situation; Michelle was secretly selfish and she left me during a difficult situation.

In each circumstance, the common factor was me. More specifically, me facing a difficult situation. During those times, I not only learned valuable information about the core values of those around me. I also discovered the core values upon which I place the highest value.

From there, two questions became obvious. When faced with difficulty, what kind of people do you want around you? And, what kind of person do you want to be?

If the answers to those questions are clear, you're extremely lucky. If they're not, look around. Do the people you know help during difficult situations? Do they create those situations? Do they make them worse?

Equally important: When people that you know face difficult situations, what role do you play? On some level, questions like these seem pointless.

We surround ourselves with people we like, regardless of their problems. After all, no one is perfect. But, if you've already considered the questions, you're prepared for your next difficult situation. You know who to trust. That's extremely important.

After all, another, new difficult situation could be only moments away.

Erick Rommel is a former staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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