The Giving Keys
For those who don’t know, The Giving Keys are recycled keys made into necklaces and bracelets that carry short, inspirational messages. But it’s more than that: you purchase the key and then at some point, give that key away to someone who needs it or embodies that message. Then, you share that story with the company and others on their Pay It Forward page. (You can learn everything you want to know about the company from their webpage, including how their fighting to help the homeless). Okay, now for the story…
The summer of 2014 was an odd time for me. I had just recently graduated college and was trying to find myself in the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C.’s government centric work world. My days were spent commuting, working, and then falling asleep on the couch around 7 p.m. every night. Looking back on it, I was pretty miserable. To end the summer, I took a trip to San Diego with my mother and it was there that I first learned about The Giving Keys.
The boutique was small, nestled in some corner of San Diego’s Gas Lamp District. The keys immediately caught my eye, despite not knowing what they were really about. I didn’t really need the word “Strength” but despite all of the other ones (i.e. “Breath,” “Fearless,” just to name a few) I was drawn to this one. It could have been because of my struggle with anxiety and depression or just that I needed a reminder to push through the growing pains but I could not leave the store without the key.
Fast forward to a year later (almost exactly, by the way) and I am now living in the state of New York and working full time. Between two moves (moving out of D.C. back home and then to NY) I had lost track of my key. I settled into the life of a young professional and spent the majority of the winter on the couch with the dogs (hooray for New England winters… not). But there was a light at the end of the tunnel: Justin. (Disclaimer: this is going to get really cheesy and I’m sorry… actually though… I’m not). Everyone always uses the line “When we met I didn’t know how important you were going to be to me” or something like that but no other words exist to describe the hole that he pulled me out of. Again, I was miserable. Blame it on the mix of anxiety, depression, and the gray, gray winter but I was alone (sans dogs) and anywhere from 4-6 hours away from my friends and family. It was rough.
Thank god for social media. Yes, we met on Tinder. At first, I was afraid to tell anyone this but it’s such a minor part of our relationship that it doesn’t really matter (also feels like decades ago). I had just moved and didn’t know anyone. Really, I was just looking for someone to talk to to pass the time. We talked for a while and didn’t actually meet until March but I was instantly taken aback by the person who stood in front of me. He’ll laugh if he reads this (okay, now I’m laughing), but he was (and still is) the most interesting person I have ever met. Hanging out and talking in my car turned to dinner dates and evening walks around post.
At this point, I wasn’t thinking about the key at all. In fact, I had completely forgotten that I had it until the end of July when I was cleaning the apartment in anticipation of Justin’s return from summer training. When I found the key (it was in some nondescript box still packed from moving), I was a little overwhelmed with emotion. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the traditions of the United States Military Academy, each class has it’s own motto and crest. When I found the key after being in hiding for a year, I knew that Justin would be the person who would receive it. The Class of 2018’s motto is this, “With Strength We Lead.” I had found my strength and even a little bit of myself in him and it is my hope that he will pass this key onto someone he leads one day. I’m not a big believer in fate or destiny but I believe wholeheartedly that the reason I picked up the “Strength” key that day was so that I could pass it on to Justin, who wears it all the time (from what he tells me).
Have you purchased a Giving Key? Share your story!