The Perils of Peer Pressure   Leave a comment

Recently I stepped away from the self-absorbed world of the quest for employment and ran off to the adorable city of Quebec for a long weekend with the Limoncello Ladies.  Our annual get-togethers are cherished opportunities to step out of the everyday crush of existence and look at our lives and the world around us from a fresh perspective.  It all sounds slightly glamorous and certainly our original outing, a week in Florence, had its share of exotic experiences, but to focus on those aspects is to miss the really extraordinary thing that was happening.  In between the art and the food and the architecture, we were talking, sharing, letting the chinks in the armor show.  Being real.  Being real in the kind of way that you can’t always be in a world where you have responsibilities and people relying on you to hold it together.  While we may not have all been the closest of friends before going to Italy, by the end of that week, some extraordinary bonds had been forged.  And the experience had been enriching enough to make an effort to make this a regular occurrence.

That may not sound like all that big a deal until you think about it.  Think about how little free time there is in your life.  Think about how you guard those precious vacation days.  Think about how much time and effort goes into planning a family vacation.  Numerous people have told each of us how lucky we are to do this on an annual basis.  And yes.  Yes we are.  But it doesn’t just happen.  We make it happen.  We commit to the friendship.  We nurture the friendship and we make sacrifices to keep the friendship growing.  It’s not all “Sex and the City”.  In fact, with the exception of regular cocktails, it’s not “Sex and the City” at all.  It’s not about the search for external connections, but more about the internal journeys that we’ve been on for the past year.  Celebrating accomplishments, commiserating about frustrations, and finally, encouraging each other to excel.

While in Quebec, we visited Montmorency Falls.  At 275 feet high, they are almost a hundred feet higher than Niagara Falls, and as you stand at the base of the falls, you can see a little bitty bridge crossing along the top of the falls and to your right, a series of rickety switchback steps criss-crossing up the side of the cliff face to gain access to the bridge.  Of course we needed to get up to that bridge.  The view would be spectacular, and what a rush to watch the falls thunder down the side of the mountain from that perspective.  And there were two options:  we could pay to ride a tram up the side of the mountain, or we could climb up all those steps.  For the sake of argument, we’re going to call that the equivalent of walking up 26 flights of stairs (10 feet to a story, blah blah blah math).  Now, I don’t know about you, but my rule of thumb on walking up stairs is that once we go above 5 flights, I’m looking for another option.  Add to the equation, the fact that the last two years of grad school have been highly sedentary and have seriously impacted my ability to scamper about like a bunny and the result was that I was highly sceptical of my ability to actually make it to the top.  But the group consensus (also known in other circles as peer pressure) was that we should at least climb partway up (the view from the steps would be far more spectacular than the view from the tram).  We could always turn around and go back down if it got to be too much.

And so we set off at four different paces (we are independent capable women and not joined at the hip or herd animals, after all) all affirming that no one would be judged for any choice they made along the way.  No less than three times, I decided to throw in the towel.  But every time I looked up, there was someone from some point in the climb, looking down and giving a friendly and encouraging wave.  And I would make it up another half flight.  And at some point it looked easier to make the rest of the climb up than it would be to climb back down.

And then, on a day that had already seen me nab my first job interview (with the ladies very discreetly cheering me on), I also discovered that as long as speed and elegance were not an issue, I could indeed haul myself up the side of a mountain.  And that’s why we keep carving time out of our jam-packed lives, and why we sacrifice some of that hard-earned vacation time, and why we put the effort into coordinating four different schedules.  Because we are better for having been with each other.

But you know, of course, that we took the tram back down.  There are limits to how much improving I can handle at any one moment in time.

Apparently you can get me to achieve just about anything with the promise of natural splendor.

Apparently you can get me to achieve just about anything with the promise of natural splendor.

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Posted June 23, 2013 by batgirltrainee in Living Large

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