connections, people
© Ioana Bîrdu

People leave their marks on us whether we like it or not. We usually discover this later in life when we look back, reflect and connect the dots. Some of these people are there for the long run, some for a half marathon while others join in only for short sprints.

First comes family.

When we’re young we learn a lot from our families and their behaviour towards us will affect our future adult lives. We start adding the pieces to our identity and self perception from how they treat us, how they talk to us, how they build (or don’t) our self esteem, how they show affection and the values they instill in us.

Second comes friendship.

Close friendships usually impact us for the better and improve our lives. Having good friends can teach us about empathy, vulnerability and kindness. They inspire and motivate us and make us push forward and become higher versions of ourselves.

Then come the strangers.

They may pop up in our lives for brief periods of time or we might never meet them and still, they leave an impression on us. They can be the writers we love so much, who showed us we’re not alone or who opened our minds at some point; artists or professionals we admire, who motivate and inspire us through their work or their words or random people on the street who make our lives better through small gestures of kindness.

To give some real examples of the way people impact us (for the better) I borrowed stories from one of my side projects, Connections. This is a seven question exercise that revolves around the experiences we all go through. One of the questions asks people to talk about someone who had an influence on their life.


The person who influenced and keeps influencing me is my mother. I’m a shy person and my mother always encourages me and teaches me how to deal with life. Many times I’m faced with something I can’t deal on my own and that’s when I reach for her help. To me, my mother is like a friend, like an older sister.


I lived with my grandparents until I was 6 and by the age of 17 I spent all my holidays there. My grandpa was the most honest and upright person I ever knew. He never got drunk, he had no enemies and no one could say anything bad about him. He was hardworking and proud of what he had; he never needed or wanted other people’s things and imposed respect by his presence only.

His life philosophy was rudimentary and flawless. He used to have this traditional wisdom, he could act drastic or warm and he was the pillar of our entire family until the day he passed.

He taught me a lot and he was the one to consolidate the first bricks of my being. He taught me the value of work, respect, seriousness, what it means to keep one’s word and how to love, unconditionally. When he passed he also taught me about profound grief.


My uncle. He bought my first bike and encouraged me to take on handbal. His first pair of jeans was my first pair too: Jordache brand, yellow seams, thorn. He taught me dancing; made me listen to ABBA, Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Queen, Led Zeppelin. He taught me irony, unwilling to forgive my clumsiness and hesitations.

He brought me a suit full of cinema and fashion magazines. He told me that you never have enough shirts. He told me how important it is to be neat, to travel, to learn cooking be chivalrous with women, to not care about money. I would’ve loved to show him my closet, introduce him a girlfriend or for him to read my books. I would’ve loved for him to see me now.


My friend George who I met when I finished college. On our first beer together, when I was in a period of complete rout, I found myself in front of a 30 something year old person, having the profound sensation that I’m being read as an open book, but in a way in which I wasn’t feeling any threat. And I’m not joking: that person knew all there was to know about me  in 5 minutes. George changed my life because he was the first person who saw something in me and also helped me be more confident.


This will probably sound very “Sex and the City” like but I’ll have to mention my friends – the most beautiful, snappy in a smart way, independent and badass chicks i know. I’d be a smaller person, with fewer models and less happy memories if I wouldn’t have met them.


My friend Bogdan. He thought me to be patient, to pay attention and to anticipate before I act.  He also taught me to adapt to the reality I live in and not try to change it.


I went to an art college and the two English teachers there somehow managed to shape me into something worthwhile. It’s the classic one-teacher-you-never-forget, except I was lucky enough to have two of them. Both held a passion for what they did, and I know I probably made them question that a few times, but they instilled something valuable in me, and I’ll always be grateful that they were able to look deeper than anything else before, and see a way to make me stand for for things I believed in.

I revisit those days quite often, but I hadn’t realised it until I answered this question. I don’t really know how to spot talent, or how to nurture and develop it, but I feel like they did and that kept me going for a long time.


My high-school romanian teacher. He taught me to search for arguments and counter arguments, to debate and be curious. And this is the most important thing in life: to be curious.


A man, we went to the same school and we saw each other 20 years after high-school ended. For several years I was convinced that falling in love, breakfasts in two, going to the market or cooking together wasn’t for me. My last love stories were fabulous, but without these simple, yet wonderful things. He mellowed something inside of me. I was running since forever without even knowing why. He stopped me from my run, held me in his arms, and changed me. Until I was with him it felt like I had a radar or something: every time I felt I was getting close to someone I ran. I had a commitment issue.


Last year, when I enrolled for the architecture university exam, I met a very important person to me. It is a bit cliche, but I can say it was just like finding a piece of puzzle you didn’t know where it got lost and it appeared in the perfect moment. Among other things she taught me to be patient, be less selfish, observe hidden details and find explanations in everything.

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Now what I want you to do is think about one person who had a good impact on you and if you can, reach out to them, say thank you and tell them how they helped. It will be good for both of you.

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