Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Face Time

I once knew a processed foods heiress who demanded face time.

Sometime, after the new millennium, I worked with an intern who wanted to be a TV reporter. Her blonde, cascading hair, glistening nails, and vacant stares belied the fact she was a junior at Northwestern University, home to one of the best J-Schools in the country.

This 21-year-old's entire exterior pulsated Entitled Princess like a neon sign. From her shiny, new Range Rover in the parking lot (complete with a vanity plate bearing her four initials - one of which was a name you'll find on a couple dozen products at your local grocery store), to the best jewels David Yurman had to offer, this girl glittered like an Emmy.

One day, after our morning editorial meeting, this intern confided in me that she sought a meeting with our news director.

"I really need some face time with David. I mean, I feel like I haven't connected with him. He hasn't critiqued my work and I need some advice on improving. I don't feel like we're developing a relationship."

Commentary about Gen Y aside, I understood what this co-ed was saying. She didn't feel like she was getting any personal exposure to someone in her universe.

Years later, I had another news director who once told me, "If I never see your face in my office until your annual review, you're doing something right."

And for much of the news business, that's the truth. There's so little time to critique and advise. It's all about "running and gunning," and making sure things don't crash and burn in the process.

You pray you don't get hauled into the news director's office, because if you do, it's going to hurt.

And that's how I've operated for much of my professional career. Chock it up to my Gen X tendencies and my ability to work alone.

It's a little different where personal relationships are concerned.

I know myself well enough to know I fail miserably at maintaining friendships and more intimate relationships that don't allow for enough face time.

When people cycle out of my sphere, I have a hard time keeping the closeness alive. Good, bad or indifferent, I've let a lot of wonderful people drift out of my life because I've moved on (high school or college, e.g.), or moved away.

Sometimes, it reminds of that saying about having friends for a reason, a season and a lifetime.

And sometimes the onus is on me.

I've found myself guilty a million, trillion times of saying a casual, "We should do lunch sometime," or "We should catch up sometime," and failing to follow through.

Sometimes, I am horrible with the follow-through.

Other times, I'm the person who doesn't receive the follow-through, but instead smiles and exchanges pleasantries with the person who doesn't have time for me.

And that's okay.

Life is so big and bad and complicated, and it's easy for us to cycle in and cycle out of another's sphere. The rub is when we find ourselves out of a place we want to be - a social circle, a relationship that has dissipated beyond its life cycle - and struggling to get back in.

I know I need to work harder at being intentional with my relationships, making sure I'm investing the time and energy in the people whose life have become a part of my own.

And sometimes, I need to remind the folks who casually toss out mentions of plans that, no, my phone number hasn't changed and, yes, you are always welcome to call me.

Because everyone needs some face time once in a while.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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