Thinking About

Admiration Isn’t Optional

Three ingredients to valuable relationships

Kate Green Tripp
3 min readOct 19, 2021


Photo: Denis Agati / Unsplash

I’ve been thinking about my relationships lately, the crown jewels in particular. And by that, I mean all types and vintages — the ones I was born into (or were born unto me), the ones I groomed painstakingly over the years, the ones I’ve fallen into with ease or by necessity, and the fresh ones just barely taking shape.

Of course that thinking also inspires some flashlight shining into my own crevices of heart and mind. Because what are relationships if not vehicles for enhanced self-understanding?

I used to believe (with a vengeance) that different people in my life served different needs. These days, I claim that truth loosely. Sure, what I ask of my neighbor may look different than what I ask of my boss. How I play with my workout buddy won’t mirror how I cry into the phone with my best friend (except when it does). But is what I appreciate about each of these meaningful alliances so dissimilar? Increasingly, I think not.

How we shape our networks and families and what we give to, and draw from, the people within them is certainly prone to morph with time and circumstance. My life has shifted drastically in recent years. And yet, along with the variations, I notice a steady base line of consistency. I notice more and more how the people I hold dearest stack up around a key set of similarities — three “ingredients” you might say. And though I can only report on my own hit rate in each with a mild degree of accuracy, I do know these same ingredients are ones I try to deliver on.

For one, my favorite humans — allies of all persuasions— inhabit themselves. They either know (or are studiously attending to learning) who they are. This sounds simple but is, in fact, damn hard and likely to induce frequent nausea and horror. A rigorous attention to one’s own humanness, particularly the messy bits, might be the quality I most admire in just about anyone. I’d rather you puke than pretend.

Consider the domino effect here. It’s remarkable. If how you show up on the outside aligns with what you carry on the inside, not only do I feel you, but our connection invites me to feel myself more clearly. Your presence grants me permission to be more…



Kate Green Tripp

Writer / Editor / Strategist. Comms Director, Stanford Impact Labs. I chase ideas & shape stories about science, society & innovation. Mostly, I belong outside.