Virginia was the best friend anyone could ask for. She never missed an event she was invited to. She never missed a phone call and was always there to listen and give advice. She never missed an opportunity to help a loved one in need. She was considered the most dependable person by many. Her optimistic attitude gave hope to everyone around her.
At work, she was an exemplary employee. With her family, she was an ideal mother, daughter, sibling, cousin, niece, and granddaughter. In her romantic relationships, she was so giving, kind, and accommodating. She seemed “too good to be true.” But nobody knew the real Virginia, including her own self. A seemingly selfless individual had no idea of who her real self was.
Although frequently amidst people, she often returned to a quiet home feeling sad and alone. Sometimes she didn’t understand why. She would remind herself that she was not alone and had many wonderful people in her life who cared about her even if they didn’t show it.
Virginia believed people had different ways of showing love, which is true, but she deserved more than that. She deserved people to be just as attentive to her as she was to them. Then one night she gave serious thought to this. She reflected on how giving she was to others, but how she received so little in return. Even regarding phone communications, she looked through her phone and noticed the imbalance of conversations initiated by her, where she was usually the person to “check in” on people.
Helping others did provide Virginia with some sort of happiness, and she certainly didn’t do it to receive anything in return. Virginia was a kind person, but that night she thought about the times she needed help and had to resolve situations on her own because others were too busy or otherwise preoccupied with their own lives to help her or speak to her.
Virginia tried to get back to bed and felt that she was probably overthinking everything. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get this out of her mind and devised a plan to try and prove her thoughts wrong.
The next day, Virginia decided to host a party at her apartment. Her apartment, located in Manhattan, was a central and easy location for her loved ones to visit. Her hope was that after seeing the successful attendance at her party, she would be assured that her prior thoughts were in vain and her efforts with others were indeed not futile.
First, she had to invent a compelling reason for this party as she was very mindful of the busy lives of others. Second, she made sure she gave ample time for people to be available to attend. She didn’t want to send out a last-minute invitation. Third, and most importantly, she vowed to herself not to follow up with anyone regarding their response. She would send the invitation, and it was the guests’ responsibility to respond by the designated date.
What exactly was this party for? It was a going away party. Virginia had sent all her loved ones an invitation stating that she would be leaving New York for a new job opportunity and wanted to say goodbye to everyone. She figured this was a powerful enough statement to get everyone’s attention. She wasn’t planning on doing this and figured that after the party she’d let everyone know that her plans changed because her job offer was rescinded.
Throughout the next few weeks, Virginia organized responses and prepared for her party. Finally, it was the night of the party. Out of the 30 people invited, only 20 responded (from the non-responsive, four left the message with the invitation unread). Out of the 20, only ten were able to attend. Out of the ten who were to attend, one person called her the day of and said they were sick, and two other people never showed up and didn’t call to explain why. That left her with seven people, two of which showed up around an hour late, and one that just stopped to make a quick appearance but had to leave early for another engagement. That left Virginia with only four guests that attended the party for the full duration of the time.
Although even with just a few other people, everyone still had a good time. But this was not the point. The point was that out of 30 potential guests, only seven attended. Virginia was disappointed, and she had unfortunately proved herself right. She didn’t want to be right this time.
Virginia had told her guests that she was relocating to San Juan, Puerto Rico. She had never been there, but heard great things about it. She loved the beach, so it was the first place that popped in her mind.
As she was cleaning up after the party, she noticed a letter about her apartment lease renewal, which was at the end of the month. As usual, there was also an increase in the monthly rent. She thought about how much of a waste of money it was having a two-bedroom apartment for this upcoming year, since her daughter would be away for the year, studying abroad with her university. It would be a quiet year because Virginia was also due for a sabbatical at the university in which she was employed. Then she had another idea, this one much riskier than the last!
Virginia decided to live in San Juan for a year. The change of scenery would be great, but even more importantly, she needed some “alone” time to discover herself. She realized that for forty-something years she had been living for others, always doing as other requested and wanting to please others. Although there was a feeling of gratitude in getting to know and help so many other people, she neglected one important person: herself. She didn’t even know what being alone for more than a few hours felt like. She spent so much time with other people that she never spent the time to get to know herself.
While on her flight, she made a checklist of things she wanted to do, places she wanted see, and what her goals were for this “break.” When she finished her list, she realized she compiled many things to do, but she only had a year to do it. One of her goals was to stress less, so with that in mind, she would prepare for her new journey by taking it easy, achieving what she was able to, and not giving herself any “timelines.” Although she made a list that she would like to complete, she accepted that it might not be possible to do so.
During her year in San Juan, Virginia was able to complete many things on her list such as achieving some of her goals. She discovered some new hobbies, had fun going sightseeing with her daughter when she came to visit, built more confidence in herself, and enjoyed living in a tropical environment (more than she thought she would). However, at the end of her stay, she was ready to go home to Manhattan and back to her career and loved ones.
Upon her return to New York, she felt like a new person in the same body. She was ready to make the proper changes needed in her life. She now had more confidence to say “no” and not worry about what others would think. She was also better at choosing her friends. However, she realized that she already had a best friend: herself.