My friend Amy is the most charismatic and generous person in any room. She's radiant, and big-hearted, and indescribably kind. Her hugs are so tight that you can feel her love in your toes. And somehow, by divine design or her own perfect intuition, she always meets me with one when I need it most. Anyone who knows Amy can attest to this blessing, but mine runs even deeper.
Nearly three years ago, I was placed as Amy's intern to fulfill my graduate school coursework. I wasn't confident in my skills and was incredibly rough around the edges. I feared, after meeting her for the first time, that she would never want to work with someone like me. That she wouldn't like me. That I would let her down. I've never felt more glad to be wrong. Not only has she since become my professional mentor, but she is among my personal best friends.
It's important for me to mention that before meeting Amy, nobody had ever allowed me the freedom to just be me. Instead, I was encouraged to be this way, or act that way. I could never please and was often rejected. However, after completing my internship and amid suffering through the awfulness of my first ever real job search, Amy gave me the best advice any person has ever given me. "Just be exactly you," she said, "and everyone will love you as much as I do."
She was right. Not only do I now have a job in a career I love, but I have all of the trappings of success and happiness I so deeply desired -- none of which would have been possible if she didn't instill in me the confidence I needed. She INSPIRED me through her own confidence to be me. Which is why this year, for her 40th birthday, I thought it was only necessary to give her an INSPIRE Giving Key to thank her for all she has given to me and to show her just how much it means.