I recently read a quote posted by someone on Facebook: “Allow your disappointment to form a life-affirming pearl, just as an oyster does when an irritating grain of sand gets inside its shell.” The author’s name was not posted. It got my attention.
I read the quote several times. I found it quite interesting. I thought it was a beautiful allegory. Definitely a seductive invitation to look at difficult times in a different prospective. Disgusting, annoying events or circumstances can be transformed into pleasant, fulfilling experiences.
I have witnessed quite a few of those transformations. One of my best experiences has to do with my friend Barbara, Barbie, as I call her. She is a colleague, a licensed clinical social worker, abbreviated -LCSW. But overall, she is one of my best friends.
Barbie and I met at work. She came to work at a nursing care facility that had recently hired me. There were some difficulties at that time, and months later things turned into a nightmare. Seriously. We went through a lot of commotion, chaos and we all were put under a lot of pressure. We worked long hours. Multiple projects were assigned to be completed with short deadlines. Daily meetings and close monitoring made our days exhausting, unenjoyable, and almost unbearable. At times, we shared a few tears.
Barbie and I didn't seem to have too much in common beyond the fact that we both were healthcare social workers. Barbie was tall, blonde, kind and patient. I was, to the contrary, petite, brunette, hyperactive, and often neurotic. One day in despair, complaining about our jobs, we started to talk and share our disheartenment. But we also started to talk about our personal lives. Our relationship almost immediately changed. Barbie admitted to me -after we had become close friends- that she was initially guarded due to the fact that I resembled a person she had detested in her past. Today we both find that to be one of the cutest confessions ever admitted and heard.
The truth is that the difficult work environment that we went through was the best experience that could have happened to Barbie and I. We discussed our tasks and assigned projects daily. We helped each other despite our exhaustion and burnout. And as our friendship grew, we found our career and personal aspirations were surprisingly similar in many ways. No matter what was happening around us, we knew we could trust each other, regardless of the stressful environment.
Barbie and I no longer work at the same nursing facility. We pursued different jobs, but Barbie and I talk almost daily. We meet for lunch every week. We both agree that the irritating sand of harsh circumstances formed the pearl of our shiny, strong friendship. No doubt, we became best friends forever.