As Don Miguel Ruiz said, "the same way that you are the main character of your story, you are only a secondary character in everybody else's story." In the story of our lives we don't talk enough about the people in our orbit who've played a role in defining who we are, and who we'll become. I've been lucky in life to have many deep relationships, some of them have even been with people I've never met in person, and I want these nice people to know how I feel about them. They've given meaning to my life in ways that I felt were worth documenting somewhere, creating an artifact of the expected and unexpected friendships, relationships, and people in my life.
- This isn't a competition like MySpace's Top 8, I just wanted a space to talk about the nice people in my life who inspire me in many different ways.
- Position on this list serves no relation to my feelings about a person, it's purely alphabetical.
- As with the nature of relationships, this list is always changing. I don't intend to remove people, but as I meet lovely new people they may be added over time, and as people grow what I've written about them may change as well.
Amro is the person who referred me to Twitter and answered my barrage of questions, which was only the first of many times he was willing to demonstrate going above and beyond. While working at Twitter was a meaningful period of my life I'm glad I came out of it with a personal friendship. Aside from being hilarious Amro is such a supportive person, and I've been lucky to be on the receiving end of that (especially while working for Twitter) many times. Sometimes he provides space to listen, sometimes he has tactical feedback, sometimes he'll provide a new perspective, but I always feel better after spending time with him.
Bereket is one of the most interesting people I know, and I like to think I know a lot of interesting people. Bereket is always looking to help others, it's the first and last thing on his mind at all times. The way he thinks about solving complex problems at a systemic level is special, and paired with his ridiculous intelligence and hard-working demeanor is a source of inspiration for me.
What's there to say about my favorite person? No one is there for me the way Colleen is, and no one is more fun to spend my days with. I could spend pages writing about my feelings for Colleen (which I have in many journal entries), and yet most words feel too generic to describe the specific way she makes me feel. Colleen is the perfect complement (and great at compliments). When I need her she's there, and I'm grateful to be wherever I am with this amazing person. She makes me feel seen and understood in a way that no one else does, as my biggest cheerleader, my closest confidante, and someone who brings a level head to keep me modest yet excited about who I am as my most authentic self. Simply put, I love Colleen. I'm incredibly lucky to have met her, and luckier for her to love me the way I love her.
Craig and I both suffered through the lifelong affliction of being born Mets fans. That pain brought us closer together, and as a 14-year old Craig opened my eyes up to the world of sabermetrics which shaped a lot of how I think, not only about baseball. I started reading websites like Fangraphs and talking to Craig about what the future of baseball could look like, which fans now appreciate as the analytics revolution. Baseball aside I've always appreciated Craig's very chill nature, it's one of the things that makes him a very fun person to hang out with.
Never have I ever read someone's writing and thought "it's like this is coming straight from my head, but with better words". David has a unique ability to articulate complex thoughts, feelings, and ideas in completely relatable ways that make you rethink and appreciate your own experience. What's even more amazing is that David only started writing a few years ago, until then I'd been lucky enough to experience his wisdom in bursts of conversation when he was visiting NYC or I was in SF. And David isn't even a professional writer, his incredible breadth as a technologist and zest for understanding is what shapes his distinctive and insightful viewpoints.
There are few people who have been there for me when I needed someone more than Esther. Esther was my downstairs neighbor from the day I was born, but our friendship didn't begin until I was staying with my parents for a few weeks while separating from my ex-wife. Esther is a keen observer of the human spirit and uniquely kind, so when she noticed I was in pain from just a glance into my eyes she invited me into her home, and we haven't stopped sharing since. She's a fascinating woman who's lived a fascinating life in her own right, but her kindness is unparalleled. Whether it's the amazing love she shows her husband, or the myriad of ways she goes out of her way to make friends and loved ones feel thought of and cared for, the world would only be better for having more Esther's.
Ish and I have only recently become friends, and that's something I consider a shame. Ish is a spectacularly caring human being, the world needs more Ish's. I'd always admired Ish from afar and felt shy about introducing myself, but once I did I was not disappointed. As an incredibly passionate iOS developer I really love nerding out with Ish, but our conversations take us to places that take advantage of our complementary perspectives and show us how similar people who come from different places can be.
Jasdev is an incredibly rich and complex person, in seemingly only positive ways. He manages to merge a lifelong quest for understanding with being the absolute goofiest person I know, sometimes within the span of one sentence. I've said it many times in my life but I'm proud and lucky to call Jasdev a friend, whether it's because he has the dankest memes folder known to humanity or the deepest desire to be a great friend. When I call him a nerd there's a 50% chance it's a compliment about a brilliant remark he just made and a 50% chance I'm enamored with how derpy he is, but I'm always happy that he's there for me to call him anything.
James is the kind of person I can sit down and talk with for four hours straight, which is actually how we became friends. From spurious but deep conversations once a year to talking every month, I'm glad to have added space in my life to connect with James on a regular basis. James is not only very sharp, but he's hard-working, and undeniably present. Making space for James is a treat because he always cares about what's happening in front of him in a way that makes you feel very seen, noticing things that matter but others often miss.
Jeremy is a rare mix of intellectual, curious, and kind-hearted. Jeremy is a student of life and a student of himself, constantly on the lookout for how to grow as a person. When Jeremy asks a question it inevitably leads to an answer and three more questions, questions you'd never thought to ask and yet want more time to answer. As the epitome of thoughtful maturity it's always fun to watch Jeremy's brain in action, simultaneously moving a mile a minute and in a calm manner that comes so natural to Jeremy.
Joey's uniqueness comes from the fact that his first thought is always “how can I help others”. Joey cares so much in a way that's so genuine and authentic it's often impossible to separate his thought out plans from instinct. What makes our friendship all the more remarkable is that we've never met, going from seeing each other's tweets on Twitter every once in a while to talking every day over a matter of months. Despite knowing Joey for only a year or two we have so much in common, and often it feels like I've known him most of my life.
You can only have one oldest friend in the world and for me that's John. John has known me since I was 8 years old, and he knows me in a way that no one else can. We went through so many formative life experiences together, and watching John in those moments has stayed with me my entire life. As I've gotten older I've become more attached to my roots, and no one helped me establish and dig those roots in like John.
Jazbo is the embodiment of strength from humble roots, always looking towards goals that are bigger than he could have imagined. His penchant for never taking anything for granted or at face value is why he will be your biggest backer and challenge you at the same time, all because he loves you. When I think about my own immigrant roots and how they shaped who I am, the person who most understands this 5'6 Ukrainian most is a Jamaican man who stands nearly a foot taller than me.
Josh is the epitome of hustle, but not in the cringy Gary V way. From professional poker player to startups Josh has a hint of The Most Interesting Man in the World, but remains modest while knowing his own self-worth. Josh is the kind of person who always has your back and if it'll make your life easier he'll provide one of his connections as if they're your own. But what I appreciate about Josh most is how great of a listener he is, if something matters to you, Josh won't forget about it.
Marina was my first real girlfriend (and was a model for how I want to treat women), but more importantly she's been a rock in my life for over a decade. Unquestionably fun with a hint of righteous rage, Marina brings her own energy to any room she enters. She is the embodiment of dynamic, capable of making fun out of any situation through a combination of silliness and intelligence. But most importantly she's the kind of person who always has others on her mind, a friend who will be the first and last person to check in on you when you're in need, and afterwards to make sure you're still ok.
From high school friends to college roommates, there are few people I've spent so much time with on a regular basis than Mike. While it wasn't good for my grades Mike and I would spend time hanging out rather than going to class, and though I was constantly tempted to take the conventional path, Mike showed me that life is also meant to be lived. He was the first person who demonstrated the importance of always showing up for friends, and articulated it as a core value of his in a way that's stuck with me my whole life.
Romain opened his door to me when I was at my lowest point in life, and even more to his credit at the time we were practically strangers. We hit it off from the moment we met not only because he's an unimpeachably kind person, but because he's also an incredibly entertaining person to be around, with a sense of humor to match. Even if you go in with an agenda you never know what kind of conversation you'll have with Romain or where it will go, but it will always be interspersed with consistent devotion to grow as a person.
Tamar's creativity about life, art, and how to view the world is inspiring. She is a woman of many talents, from software to writing to art, it's hard to believe that all of that lies in one person. But that is the beauty of Tamar, each of her perspectives informs the other and allows her to leave her mark on people. If there's one person in my life who personifies the concept of turning a spark into light, it would be Tamar.
Joe Fabisevich is an indie developer creating software at Red Panda Club Inc. while writing about design, development, and building a company. Formerly an iOS developer working on societal issues @Twitter.
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