F*** It Friday
I was standing in the checkout line in Whole Foods when I heard a voice from over my shoulder call out " You've got the right idea!" Confused, I turned around and saw a woman nodding towards the bottle of Hornitos margarita and the 365-brand, four cheese pizza that I had placed on the conveyor belt. I laughed and replied, "It's a date night with myself. Might as well feel good." She smiled and agreed, gesturing towards her cart and proudly proclaiming that she had bought a box of brownies for the same reason.
In the weeks and months since moving halfway across the country to my hometown of St. Louis, MO, I have wrestled with whether I made the right decision, if and where I should move again, and whether I'll ever be able to find Mr. Right among the minefield of divorcés and single dads that has made dating in my mid-to-late 30s an emotional hazard, if not a lackluster endeavor. I had taken this past Friday off from work with every intention of being responsible, catching up on work without the distraction of meetings and knocking out some chores ahead of yet another transatlantic jaunt. Perhaps it was the therapy session the day before that left me in tears, or my realtor-cum-chatty-Cathy who tried to lecture me that morning on respecting her time after I had canceled on a virtual contract overview session the week prior for reasons far too personal and layered to divulge to her, or maybe it was yet another disappointing tour of a property that I thought would cement my decision to stay in the St. Louis area for the indefinite future. However, it definitely was a F***-It Friday in which - however momentarily - I would accept that I had nothing to apologize for, that I was going to trust my gut and lean into my authentic self, and that mine was a life worth living fearlessly and fully, whether single for the rest of my life, or not.
And with that, I fired my realtor and hit my favorite mall, where I bought a couple of sleek pieces from my jewelry designer du jour Bony Levy and spent a couple of hours upping my eye makeup game with Kate at the MAC counter. If I'm going to head to one of my favorite cities in the world, I might as well do it in style. However, it wouldn't be an authentic day for me without a dose of gravitas. So, hyped up on a fully caffeinated latte, I met with the regional manager of one of the leading coworking spaces globally and engaged in a deep, intellectual conversation on how to bring hyper-growth tech startups to the area, at which point he suggested that I join the next call for a newly formed regional tech council on the subject with local leaders in higher education, venture capital, private equity, and politics. My heart was racing not only from the caffeine but because I know my passion lies somewhere at the intersection of technology, scaling startups, cities, and the bringing together of diverse and competing stakeholders. That being said, by the time I settled into the evening with my margarita, pizza, and four-legged companion, I was ready for the fashion and frivolity of one of my two guilty TV pleasures of the moment, Emily in Paris. The other, of course, is the Sex and the City revival And Just Like That, but that's for Thursday nights, not Fridays.
I don't know how long this inexplicable washing over of contentment will last me, but while I'm here, I figured I'd share a couple of hacks, as of late, that have helped to nurture my authenticity and ability to be fully present in the moment.
That Sounds Fun: The Joys of Being an Amateur, the Power of Falling in Love, and Why You Need a Hobby, by Annie F. Downs - This book was a tough read. For every single woman that's wrestled with being single, this book is like holding a mirror to your pain, angst, joy, love, disappointment, and tears. To read it was freeing; to know that I'm not alone in how I'm feeling; that I'm not promised a storybook, fairy tale ending; and that there is a little bit of Eden in every day, in every experience, if I just let myself be.
Therapy - I've been in and out of therapy throughout most of my adult life. This time, I found a therapist that didn't require weekly sessions and that wasn't trying to check the box on fixing the issue of the moment. Rather, she understood the power of meditation and mindfulness, that progress isn't linear, that any change and any answers have to come from within me, and that by firmly reminding me of those habits that are the greatest causes of human suffering, i.e. nonacceptance and comparison, I would be forced to reckon with the role I was playing in perpetuating my own pain.
Coaching - I'm a huge fan of BetterUp and my coach Mimi, but there are a number of life coaching resources to be had. BetterUp is a super convenient, all-in-one app that provides curated content and goal-tracking, and matches you with a coach, who is available for live coaching sessions with the frequency of your choosing. While therapy has a role to play in managing life's emotional challenges, my BetterUp coach provides accountability and an objective perspective on the goals - some personal but mostly professional - I've set for my life. I'll refrain from going into the details of how that same accountability had me repeatedly rescheduling sessions with Mimi for fear of being unmasked as a failure after seemingly not having achieved the goals I had so confidently input into the app, only to have one of the most illuminating conversations I've ever had on self-compassion and what success looks like for me.
Exercise Classes - I'm a member of a local community center in my area that offers a full-scale gym, complete with an indoor track, athletic courts, indoor/outdoor swimming pools, and fitness classes. It's the fitness classes where I am starting to rebuild not only my physical strength but also my bonds of community after giving up the dance classes and accompanying community I built during my 8-plus years in the DC area. We're from all different ethnicities, backgrounds, and walks of life, but when we hit the parking lot, the entrance to the building, and then the studio, where the music kicks in, we're all rooting for each other, as we lift and bend and step at our own pace, in competition with no one but ourselves.
Meetup - I remember when Meetup was first a thing, but it never quite clicked for me until now. It always seemed like a last resort for the socially awkward who couldn't make friends the natural way...you know, in person, spontaneously. But with online dating being the norm these days, and myself an avid partaker, I decided to get my nose out the air, fire up the app, and look for friends online since St. Louis is a lonely and isolating place to find yourself if you didn't go to high school here. I will say that I've met two great women - educated, successful, witty, and like me, childfree - who I now call friends and among whom we marvel that we were so lucky to have found each other. We meet for dinner, doggy play dates, and the like, and we've got plans to send me across the Atlantic on a high note this week. I even scored an invite to an amazingly fun and spirited dinner for New Years Eve through one of these ladies.
While these are a few of the hacks that have kept me sane as I navigate the deep ocean of societal and personal expectations for what it means to be a professional Black woman in my 30s, your hacks, hobbies, routines, and go-tos may look very different, and that's okay. F*** it; whatever floats your boat.
Photo Credit: Kevin E.