Best-selling author, motivational speaker, Iyanla Vanzant says that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Those coming into your life for a defined reason, I call Pit Stop Buddies. The seasonal folks, I referred to as Mile Marker Mates and those in for the long term are Lifelong Travelers. The purpose in identifying people in your life using these designations is to determine what role these relationships pay in your life journey. Are they there to teach you a specific lesson then move on? Are they there for a span of time? Are they there for a lifetime experience?
Pit Stop Buddies
It may be a chance meeting, divine synchronicity or as the saying goes, Two ships that pass in the night. These encounters happen relatively swiftly and while brief, they are intense. You feel some kind of connection to this person. You may connect in a way that makes you remark, It feels like we have known each other forever. It is not only in romantic relationship this type of synergy happens. You and the Pit Stop Buddy could be coworkers, neighbors or participants in similar activities. You hit it off right from the start; so much so, you may begin to think it would be hard to imagine your life without that person. Then the relationship ends as quickly as it began.
You may be left wondering what happened and why. The experience may feel like a roller coaster ride: exhilarating, exciting and . . . over in a flash. Although the Pit Stop Buddy entrance and exit are swift, s/he may leave an indelible mark on you. The swift ending may leave you feeling confused, betrayed or angry.
It is important to allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. Suppressing or denying your feelings can lead to a host of other challenges physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. A good tool to use to sort those feelings out is journaling.
Once you sort those feelings out it is also helpful to do some reflecting and introspection. What did the Pit Stop Buddy bring to your life? What lasting mark did she make? Did you learn something new about your self? Did you venture outside of your comfort zone and try something new? You may find it helpful to consider these questions while doing a meditation.
Mile Marker Mates
When you are traveling, there a mile markers along the way that indicate how far you have traveled and how many miles are remaining. For example, the marker may read, 2/12 which indicates that the road you traveling on is 12 miles long and you have traveled 2 miles thus far. When you get to another road the count begins anew.
As you travel the journey of life, you encounter Mile Marker Mates who are in your life for a span of time. As you travel together, it feels right. It feels good. It is mutually beneficial. Then it ends.
The ending is not abrupt like with the Pit Stop Buddy. The relationship with the Mile Marker Mate is one that runs its course. For example, you may have been close college buddies and once college is over you each go your separate ways to continue the next leg of you journey on different paths.
As much as it may be clear to both of you that it is time to part, it still may bring up difficult emotions. One or both of you may find it hard to accept that your respective journeys are taking you in different directions.
The Lifelong Traveler is on your journey for 20 years or more. Counted in this group may be your parents, children or siblings. It could also be your spouse, life partner or a childhood friendship that spans into adulthood. These folks have experience the depth and breadth of your journey. They were there for the valley and mountaintop experiences.
Do not be misled by the label however. Lifetime Travelers may at some point no longer be on your path. Of course, it could be the result of a death but it also could be that after two decades or more, the two of you head in different directions.
It is also important not to assume that Lifelong Travelers are better than Pit Stop Buddies or Mile Marker Mates. Conversations with God, the best-selling book by Neale Donald Walsch puts it this way,
Try not to confuse longevity with a job well done. Remember, your job on the planet is not to see how long you can stay in a relationship. Its to decide and experience Who You Really Are.
When you know whether a person on your journey of life is a Pit Stop Buddy, Mile Marker or Lifetime Traveler, you can better experience Who You Really Are within that relationship. In all relationships, you are there to do inner work, to find your authentic self and live out your life journey on purpose.