Every year, or perhaps even more frequently, I find myself composing a thank-you message to a dear friend N. Sometimes, the gratitude is tied to a specific event or shared experience; other times, it's a simple, encompassing "thanks for existing". Initially, these messages felt a little odd to write, a departure from my usual mode of expression. But as the years passed, I've grown comfortable with these spontaneous outpourings of gratitude. I've come to understand that expressing appreciation is important—not just for me, but for those who have touched my life in significant ways. They deserve to know and hear they're valued.
This post is dedicated to my friend N., who has profoundly influenced who I am today. I'm not suggesting that my life would be unbearable without our friendship—life, after all, is a series of ifs and maybes. Yet, I am content with who I am, and I attribute a large part of that to the experiences and people that have shaped me, N. being a pivotal one. This isn't about predestination or fate; it's about the choices we make and the relationships we cultivate.
Our first in-person encounter happened at BarCamp in 2019. It was an important event for me back then; I came to Yerevan for about 3-4 days to attend the conference and finally meet my internet friends for the first time. My friend K. introduced us to each other; it was a weird handshake; I hated handshakes back then; he said he used to feel the same but had grown to appreciate this formal greeting. Although I now prefer hugs, I've come to accept handshakes as a part of social interaction.
I was sitting with K. in a park next to the university where the conference was taking place in. She showed me a message from N. saying something like, "I'm looking at fperson's GitHub at the moment; this boy is [something nice]". It was great to hear that. And his message meant a lot; I felt like it indicated that someone I respect as a person and as a professional thinks that I'm moving in the right direction with my life. I wasn't doing anything super-fancy back then, but I was passionate.
He was some kind of a role model for me back then. The "I wanna be like this guy" way. Things have changed since then; I don't look up to people anymore the same way I used to; I have become "my own thing". However, I still love, respect, and appreciate him; that hasn't changed, and I hope it never will.
I recall a particularly impactful conversation with N. one day. We were chatting about various topics when he shared something of a personal nature. I didn't respond because I felt I had nothing to contribute to the conversation. N. pointed out that my silence wasn't the best way to communicate, a critique that initially stung but ultimately proved to be a valuable lesson. It was a pivotal moment that significantly improved my communication skills. And I'm happy he was direct about this. Nowadays, I'm pro-directness. Always.
There's so much more I could say about N., but I'll reserve those stories for another day. What's important is that I'm deeply grateful for his presence in my life.