When I was growing up, our refrigerator played a critical role in my family’s life. Obviously it was responsible for keeping our food fresh and safe for consumption, but it also had another very important job. Our refrigerator also served as a barometer for our family’s social world. My parents were always big on putting phone messages, business cards you may need, and other meaningful notes on the fridge with magnets, so that they would be handy when you needed them. In addition to these funny, little magnets and take out menus though, we would also place pictures of family and friends all over. Our refrigerator looked more like a collage than a kitchen appliance, as you could barely see any of its white exterior. This artistic expression of the important people in our lives was something that we not only greatly enjoyed and paid a lot of attention to, but it also serves as a good reminder of an important life lesson.
While my family had a good time deciding what pictures to put up on the fridge, this family ritual took on a life of its own when I was a teenager. Friends of the family would actually look all over the refrigerator every time they would visit to see if they had “made the cut” and were featured somewhere. If they were, it was like they had won some grand award. They would be so proud that they were on the “Drotar’s fridge,” and they would advertise their achievement like a badge of honor. People would even ask if they were still there sometimes when they would see us in public. It made them feel so good to be an important part of our lives, and the way this effected them is what taught me a life lesson. It was through our refrigerator that I learned how important it is to tell people that they are a big part of your life.
Everyone you interact with, be it one time for five minutes at a bus stop or your lifelong friend, has an effect on you. For better or for worse, they change you in some way. Most of these people you come into contact with have such a small impact on your life that you won’t even notice it. There are a handful of people however, who have a such a profound effect on you that they change the course of the rest of your life. This change may be good (like teaching you something new) or it could be bad (like introducing you to meth), but regardless, they played a major part in shaping who you are and where you have been. These are the people who are “fridge worthy.” These are the individuals who you need to tell how much they have meant to you. These are the guides that have gotten you to where you are today.
I don’t put up a million pictures on my fridge, but I have continued this Drotar family ritual in my own way. In the living room of my apartment, above my television on the wall I have about 20 pictures spread about. In order to be featured on my wall, you have to have made a huge impact on me and my life. Some are family, some are friends, and some are people who I hope to never see again, but that doesn’t change the fact that I learned something important about life through the interactions I had with all of them. Every day I can look up at these faces, and I can be reminded of the valuable lessons I have learned from them. These photos also help me remember who I need to keep in touch with, and what people are the most important in my life. On several occasions I have looked at these pictures and felt the need to email one of them to tell them how much of a positive effect they had on me, and how much they mean to me. Each and every time I have done this, not only has the person felt very honored and appreciated by my gratitude, but they always say that they had no idea what they had said or done for me had made such a powerful impact.
It is so critical to always keep sight of the people who have had the most influence on you and who you have become. Without these individuals coming into your social world, you may have never become the amazing person you are today. I am not saying you have to turn your kitchen appliances into modern art or hang a bunch of picture frames on your living room walls, but I do recommend finding a way to remember the important people throughout your life. By the way my family’s friends reacted to getting on the fridge and the way people have responded to my emails of thanks, it is obviously a big deal to people when they learn that they made a positive difference in someone’s life. Imagine how you would feel if someone who you had not spoken to in several years, one day emailed you telling you about the success they have had, and that without your guidance they never would have achieved it. When was the last time you told one of your “fridge worthy” guides how much they have meant to you? Take the time today to thank one of these people. This will undoubtedly bring them an immense amount of happiness, but it will also remind you of all of the powerful lessons they have taught you, and how much these lessons have helped you throughout your life.