A few years ago, while going through the double heartbreak of a broken family and lost love, I thought I would never be more grateful for my friends.
But, after a year filled with personal accomplishment, now is that time. My friends unwavering belief that I was capable and worthy of all that 2013 has been was, without a doubt, the reason I sit where I sit, looking out my beautiful view in my first place on my own. It’s the reason I’m managing a team of five talented, fun producers. It’s how I finished a half marathon, dived under the ocean surface, went on TV, and got a window office. It’s how come I have great relationships with my family again.
I have been single for a majority of the last three years, but nothing I’ve done, have I had to do on my own, down to picking my first fantasy football team.
And while I can wish I had learned from some mistakes sooner, or not repeated a few, I know without the choices I made in my late 20s, I wouldn’t be hitting my stride now. My friends have been there to remind me of that any time I look back with regret.
Distractions. (Lots of ) pep talks. Flowers. Travel partners. Running buddies. Fill-in dates. A good laugh (or hundreds of good laughs). Safe spaces to cry. Cheerleaders. There hasn’t been much my eclectic, smart, creative friends haven’t been willing to do.
I’m 13 years into being a legal adult. And at 31, I’ve finally realized making a plan is sort of pointless. Life doesn’t like to follow a plan. So I have goals. And a couple dreams. But more than anything else, I have my friends. And I know that, high or low, I’ll live a good life surrounded by them.
The arrogance of certainty is the surest way to close yourself off to new knowledge and experiences, and new knowledge and experiences are, to my mind, the whole point of getting out of bed in the morning.
"Hope is not a plan" is on a note stuck to my computer screen.
I used to love hope. I thought if I hoped hard enough all the things I hoped for would come true.
But hope can strip you down and expose all your weaknesses. It can prevent you from truly letting go, when letting go is for the best.
Fear wasn’t something I thought much of in my 20s. Things happened to me, and I was forced to face fears. But I didn’t confront them. In so many cases, my worst fear came true because I was out of options.
This year has been different. I ran a half marathon. Ran, not walked. I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to run the whole way. But I prepared, physically and mentally, and beat my goal time by 25 minutes. What I was most proud of was crossing the finish line still smiling.
I learned how to scuba dive in April. I have always felt at home in the water, but what could happen below the surface petrified me. Given the opportunity to dive with whales, I sucked it up, took the classes, paid the fees, and jumped into the Great Barrier Reef with a tank of oxygen on my back. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Down there, dozens of feet below the surface, I was in someone else’s world. I respected the ocean kingdom, and the sharks, rays, whales, fish, and sea snakes let me be. They didn’t mind my presence as long as I respected their home.
I appeared on the Today Show in early August. I got a call 20 hours before that no one else was available and my team needed me to go on. I spent the day before nauseous. But I wrote my script. I read through it over and over again. I walked into hair and makeup at 6:30 am and the makeup artist said, “We’ve had you here before, right?”
Her belief that I was TV-ready put me at ease. I sat down in the studio chair, all done up, next to four hosts and thought, “Well, no turning back now.” And then I successfully went on national television for 2 minutes. The response from my friends and family was amazing. It was a highlight in a year full of highlights. And it was another fear faced down.
Today I got my first window office. And I earned it. I know that because a lot of people I respect told me I did. But also because I know what it took to get there. And I had faith in myself that I would.
And that’s the takeaway from quite a year. Fear and faith can be so powerful—in good and bad ways. But, for me, facing down my fears, barreling through, preparing as much as I could, has been the most invigorating experience of my adult life. And doing it all with the faith that I’ll come out of it okay has fundamentally changed how I think of myself.
I don’t want to invest much time in hope anymore. Hope lets you down. Hope puts control in the hands of the universe, and not your own.
Instead I want to work on having faith. I want to have faith that being on my own at 31 doesn’t mean I won’t get a chance to be a wife and a mother. I want to know I’ll face my fear of never being able to love someone again like I have loved someone before.
Today in a meeting, in my new office, with my team, I had a moment where I felt like an impostor, like this was someone else’s life and I was living it. It’s a surreal feeling when one of your dreams come true.
I didn’t get there on the back of hope. I got there because I worked hard, faced down fears, and had faith in myself. 2013 has been about integrating that formula into all the other aspects of my life.
I’d normally say, here’s hoping it all works out. But I believe it will. I have faith.
It’s been just under 10 years since I lived in Boston. But the city has stayed with me ever since, including its sports teams. It was the East Coast’s welcome mat for this SoCal girl. And wow did it win me over. I am so proud to be one of so many Emerson alumni that called Boston home, today more than ever. If any city can come back stronger from tragedy, it’s Beantown.
Like so many said it would, everything changes in an instant (or two).
I’m going to Australia in June to dive with Dwarf Minke whales, which means I’m becoming a certified diver, something I never thought much about doing until someone offered me a free trip to swim with giant mammals.
The timing of the offer was bizarre, given one hour after receiving confirmation, I was introduced to a tall, handsome, bright Bangladeshi who had just learned to dive and was very impressed by my trip.
Now I’m dating said gentleman, going to Australia, and balancing an ever expanding role at work. And all of it…the shock of being in a full-blown relationship so quickly, and out of nowhere, the time-consuming, brain-consuming nature of my new role at work, and the added bonus of racing to become dive certified, has made for an overwhelming couple weeks.
But, as my dad said to me last night, this is how it happens. I was in limbo for months, and then, I wasn’t. So, my father said, savor this. And today, so said my new man. Both pointed out that none of what is happening, overwhelming as it is, is bad. It’s just new, and big, and might take awhile to figure out.
And so, as I walked hand-in-hand with a man who adores me through my favorite local park on a beautiful spring Saturday, I pointed my face toward the sun and savored.
Over the last year, I got comfortable in limbo. But the arrival of spring, and the change it’s brought with it, is starting to feel so good.
We live in a society where romantic love is idealized: if we search long enough, we will find “the one,” the soulmate who is perfect for us, who will grow and change at the exact same rate we do, who loves us exactly as we are and never expects us to change, who always wants us sexually, never has bad breath or gets grouchy, and is perfectly desirable in every way. We expect our partner to fully meet us on an intellectual, physical, sexual, and spiritual basis; to be our lover, best friend, a companion, confidante, confessor, therapist, and family, all rolled into one. This sets up monumental expectations which all of us invariably fall short of.
Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.