Get A Hobby: Reflections on a Transformative Year

“I am proud of the woman I am today, because I went through one hell of a time becoming her.”

Last year, I spent half of my birthday crying and the other half trying not to cry. I was five months into my grief journey, hopeless and depressed. I remember thinking, “Who cares? We’re all going to die anyway.” I don’t have many regrets, but I should have been more grateful to celebrate life that day. As it turns out, my 30th year has been the best story yet.

Two months after I turned 30, I made an empty promise to myself that I would get out more… when I felt better or when it was warmer or when I felt like myself. I thought I’d finally stopped making lousy excuses on a night in early June when I attended my friend’s curatorial debut at a gallery in Logan Circle. Following the exhibition, everyone headed to a nearby rooftop for an after party. Well, everyone except me because I decided to go home.

I walked on 14th Street for a couple blocks, saw one too many smiling faces, and hailed a cab.

Much to the driver’s misfortune, I was in tears by the time he started the meter. I felt guilty for sitting in the house when I could have been celebrating my friend’s success. Excuses. Although the driver didn’t ask me what was wrong, I proceeded to give an abridged version of everything that happened in my life since November 2016.  I didn’t know he was actually listening until his concerned eyes met mine in the rear view mirror. “You should get a hobby,” he said.

Personally, I think telling someone to “get a hobby” is as equally rude as it is hilarious, but in this case the driver wasn’t flippant or sarcastic. He was actually right. For those of us dealing with emotional instability, angst or grief, hobbies are outlets that can potentially make way for new beginnings. I needed a new beginning. I made self-love, enjoying the moment, and living out loud my favorite hobbies. And also, ClassPass.

New beginnings take time. Like grief, distractions come in waves. During the summer the waves crashed. I was traveling the entire season. In the fall, travel settled down but I was volunteering three times a week after work. Before I knew it, I had a year of grief under my belt. All of a sudden it was New Year’s Day. Now, it’s April.

While I was in church last Sunday, I realized the theme of my 30s isn’t solely inspired by grief or pain. The new decade is already defined by a host of liberating, memorable, once in a lifetime adventures.

Some of the experiences for which I am most grateful are listed below:

  • Climbing into a sea cave with my mom in a foreign country.
  • Delivering a speech at my alma mater during the commencement exercises.
  • Taking my family to the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
  • Driving over the George Washington Bridge and not dying.
  • Meeting my nephew.
  • Writing about successful women who I admire and getting published.
  • Going to the top of the Empire State Building for the 3rd time.
  • Winning $50 at a casino in Biloxi, MS.
  • Seeing all of my friends (literally all of them).
  • Being there for my friends.
  • Hiking up 5 mountains.
  • Road tripping from San Diego to San Francisco.
  • Flying in a helicopter for the first time.
  • Seeing the Harvest Moon on the beach.
  • Having the best Halloween costume of all time.
  • Raising $3500 for people in need.
  • Running a race.
  • Watching a sunrise and sunset.
  • Walking in the rain.
  • Laughing until I cried.
  • Grieving.
  • Living.

…I could go on.

Today, I found a quote that perfectly sums up my feelings about getting older, “I am proud of the woman I am today, because I went through one hell of a time becoming her.” Words to live by! I am thrilled that more life is coming my way next week because I’ve truly come a long way.

I can’t wait.