Have you heard the saying, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime?” The quote suggests that people enter our lives for three reasons. To teach us lessons, guide us through specific periods, or to join our life-long journey.
The Need for Social Interaction
Life is a journey, and our passage of time is meaningless without the people we meet along the way.
Imagine spending your life alone on a deserted island. How isolated would you feel without the ability to share your experiences or communicate your ideas?
Think of the highest levels of achievement, like winning gold at the Olympics. The athletes who stand on the pinnacle of achievement don’t do so alone. They reach peak performance by forging relationships with mentors, coaches, parents, and supporters who guide them.
We convey our hopes, dreams, and fears through social interactions. We also celebrate triumphs and overcome obstacles.
Each person we meet provides the opportunity for growth. Through these interactions, we mature and develop into newer, wiser versions of ourselves.
These connections reveal the truth about who we are and wish to be.
The Seasons When People Come Into Our Lives
Some people come into our lives for a season—a season can last for days, months, years, or even decades. These are the middle school friends who knew our childhood secrets and the coworkers who listened to our daily troubles.
Seasons often correspond with moments in life. Like the time you were in elementary school, high school, or college: the time after you graduated or the time after you gave birth to your first child.
In those moments, your friends stayed with you through thick and thin, but the clock ticked forward. And when it did, you moved, changed careers, and transferred to different schools. What seemed like a friendship that would last forever eventually frayed.
These relationships aren’t permanent. Though deep and binding, time changes us, and we move on.
Lifetime relationships are the ones that continue for decades, well beyond the bounds of others. We may move to different states, travel to foreign countries, or live in different time zones.
We may not see each other in real life for months, but when we sit side-by-side, we laugh, reminisce, and catch up as though we haven’t missed a second of one another’s time.
Like all relationships, we give and take. In lifetime relationships, we learn to love the person for who they are despite their flaws; in return, they do the same.
The People Who Come Into Your Life
Every interaction is a gift. Think about the people who have come into your life.
Here are a few that have graced mine:
My second-grade teacher praised my writing and posted all of my poems and essays on the bulletin board. Writing has been a central part of my life ever since.
My boss took a chance on me. Although he hired me as a tester, he let me dabble in code, which enabled me to launch a successful career as a software engineer.
A friend encouraged my creativity and told me to write down my thoughts when I felt compelled to set them free. Nearly two decades later, I’m still blogging.
When I reflect on my friend T, I cannot help but smile. I spent most of my elementary school years at my best friend’s house, giggling, laughing, and playing board games. I don’t remember us ever fighting or disagreeing. She taught me the meaning of childhood joy.
My friend, A, taught me the power of mistakes. I regret how our relationship ended and now dedicate more time to managing my friendships.
People Come Into Your Life for a Reason
When you look back at your life, can you see why you connected with others? Perhaps you felt a void or loneliness. Maybe you felt delighted and fulfilled and needed to share that joy.
The Reasons People Come Into Our Lives
People come into our lives for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we need emotional support or guidance because our lives feel off-kilter, wobbly, or off-track. When hope feels lost or frustration levels peak, we unknowingly turn to the universe for help.
Those who enter our lives heal us. They lift us when we feel down or guide us when we feel lost along the way. Often the person we meet helps us feel part of a community when we once felt alone.
The people we meet forever change us—some stick around, while others are gone before a season ends. We never know how someone will impact our lives or how we will impact them.
Some relationships test our upper limits and strain us or break us for a time. Others teach us or help us become the very best version of ourselves.
Do We Meet People for a Reason?
Here are eight reasons people come into our lives:
1. To Support Us
Some people provide support when we feel broken. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my friend, M, provided support in ways I never expected. She knew the pain of losing her dad, shared her wisdom, and listened to me cry.
Other friends came to my dad’s funeral. They were there to let me cry on their shoulder when I couldn’t hold back my tears.
2. To Encourage Us
Some people come into our lives to show us strength. They help us see our resilience and lead us to believe we are capable of great things even when we can’t see that for ourselves.
3. To Provide Inspiration
Sometimes we need someone to stand before us and show us what’s possible. I love the story of a runner who broke the 4-minute mile. No one thought a human could run that fast, but others followed in his footsteps after proving it was possible.
Some people come into our lives to inspire us and help us believe in ourselves when the world seems stacked against our desires.
4. To Teach Us
Some friends pop into our lives to teach us valuable lessons. They may lead us to garden, paint, or write. Maybe they taught us to play a musical instrument or to fall in love with exercise, which we previously despised.
Lessons are not always joyous. People can also teach us about pain and heartache. My college boyfriend taught me about dishonesty, while an extended family member introduced me to mental illness and narcissism.
From these lessons, we learn the importance of honesty and empathy. We also begin to understand the deepest levels of pain and heartache.
5. To Help Us Feel Less Alone
When you reflect on your life, you probably think of the main characters of your story. The ones you interacted with over days, months, or years, but even minor interactions help us. Often by helping us feel less alone.
Sometimes it’s the person who works behind the deli counter, the mom we meet at the playground, or the older woman who needs help getting her cereal off the shelf.
Humans need to connect with others, but all interactions don’t have to be deep and meaningful. Minor interactions can also help us feel part of the bigger world.
6. To Help Us Find Direction
Sometimes we need guidance from others. We may need to talk about our path in life or what we should do when life doesn’t go as planned.
We may want to know if we should quit our jobs or if we’ll regret becoming stay-at-home parents. Sometimes we need people to listen to our concerns and help us find a new direction.
These people often show up in the form of mentors who share the wisdom that we are unable to see for ourselves.
They help clear the hazy window to view a clean and clear perspective. To help us see that we aren’t happy with our current trajectory.
7. To Protect Us
Some people are here to protect us and to love us unconditionally. My mom and dad taught me the meaning of love. Without them, I wouldn’t have understood the feeling and could not have passed it on to my children.
8 . To Be Cheerleaders
Sometimes we need cheerleaders in life who can help us face challenges when we feel lost or discouraged. They give us the incentive to push on when we want to give up and remind us that it’s okay to make mistakes or even fail.
Social Connections Improve Our Health
Studies have proven that social connection improves our mental and physical health. Longevity studies like the Harvard Grant study have revealed the importance of social relationships above all other genetic and lifestyle factors.
We live longer, not by exercising or eating healthy, but by chatting and laughing with those we love.
The Power of People
Brief encounters and lifelong relationships can have far-reaching impacts on our lives. They can enlighten us in ways we never expected.
People can be blessings or lessons. Some people enter our lives and fill our hearts with utter joy; others stir up drama and cause us great pain.
At times I’ve felt a lot of regret for the path my life took and the people that entered my world and hurt me. Some carry clouds of darkness over their shoulders and bring pain our way.
But if I pause, I see the lessons in those interactions too. The destructive behaviors taught me who I didn’t want to be. They also helped me recognize the joyful goodness of others.
Do we meet people for a reason? Without a doubt, we do and I’m thankful for every encounter.