At ChattyKathi, we have so much to be thankful for this holiday season. We’ve seen our own community expand and the communities of our clients strengthen as well. We are so appreciative of our loved ones both near and far, our health and wellbeing, and of course, our sense of belonging as individuals and as an organization as we enter this new chapter. In the spirit of thankfulness, we would like to share some stories from our team about a time or a place we felt we truly belonged, and we would like to extend an invitation for you to reflect upon or share a similar time in your life. Please share it in the comments below or with someone close to you. Exercises like these help us to connect in new ways and bring cherished moments to the forefront of our perspective. We are grateful for you and we’re so glad you’re here.
“I’m really lucky to have had an incredible group of friends over the past 10 years who now live all over the country. It’s tough to find time to all be together, but we prioritize spending New Years’ Eve with one another. Each year, we find a new place around the world to meet up for about a week. It’s always within this week every year that I most feel like I belong. The makeup comes off, the insecurities wash aside, and the midnight dance parties in the kitchen commence! These friends come from different backgrounds, work in different fields, and our lives have all moved in very different directions. Yet, within this week, we bond over our continued similarities, learn more about one another, and laugh like crazy.” — Kaylee McHugh, co-founder and CEO
“Belonging, for me, is often linked to the places I live, as they have helped define who I am. Whenever I move to a new city, I start to feel like I can truly be myself there once I’ve gotten to know my new home. I love exploring neighborhoods — preferably on foot — and discovering what it is about a place that defines its character and gives it a soul. Bookstores and artists’ boutiques, outdoor murals and bakeries, small coffee roasters and parks steeped in history. I love wandering, talking to locals, and hearing stories of what the place has meant to them. I read once that “the soul of a city is defined by having someone who remembers and can tell you what was on that street corner 50 years ago”. This idea completely resonates with me. When I can participate in a place and contribute to an invested community, I feel like I belong.
In the last decade, I’ve lived in 9 different cities — each memorable both for its unique character as well as how it defined my life during my time there. I’m grateful for the lessons each place taught me, for the ways I’ve been surprised and my assumptions have been challenged. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned about myself and the experiences I could then take with me to my next adventure. Most of all, I’m grateful for the people I’ve met, and communities that embraced and encouraged me forward.” — Ericka Schubert, co-founder and CSO
I was blessed to attend Flatiron School for software engineering during a time when the leaders were driven to cultivate a connected and welcoming community for the students. Every Friday, we would devote time after stand down to a ritual called Feelings Fridays. This time basically opened the floor for everyone (students as well as instructors) to talk about how they were feeling and what they were going through that week, good or bad. No one is allowed to comment on what you’ve said, and what happens in Feelings stays in Feelings. We all took turns crying, feeling down on ourselves, celebrating victories, sharing stories about what was happening outside of school, or venting about whatever we needed to. My instructors were incredible examples in this situation and were just as vulnerable as anyone else in the room. This moment always reminded me that no matter how much I felt like an imposter, I belonged in this space just as much as anyone else did!” — Mary Beth Ingram, Junior Software Engineer
“I once heard someone describe it as “the clack” — the clack is that feeling you get in a moment when everything is going right, you’re with good people and the energy is in sync and flowing. That is what belonging feels like. I feel the clack when I’m belly laughing by a fire with friends, relaxing with coworkers after finishing a big project or sharing cherished and hilarious memories over a meal with family. I even feel it when I connect with a complete stranger at the grocery store over a shared nuance in our lives. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy thanksgiving and always more clack.” — Lauren Paul, Marketing Consultant
“I moved in with my parents early on in the Pandemic, and although it has its rocky stretches, it’s taught me so much. They were caring for my grandmother at the time I came to stay, so providing for the matriarch was our collective goal. It was challenging for all of us at varying moments, but it was also an experience that none of us would trade. Hospice care leaves little room for insecurity or trepidation so we dropped any ego rather quickly. It was a gift to see my grandmother find humor even in decline, my mother become the pillar of strength to her own surprise, and my dad exhibit the tenderness of a living saint. Though our matriarch has gone to glory, I am continually grateful for my time spent with my family and the lens through which I got to experience them. — Anna Hanson, Account Manager
Wishing you and your community a Happy Thanksgiving!