In just a bit, it’ll be a new year. As usual, folks are buzzing about their resolutions, goals and such, reflecting on the last 364 days and what they learned. And I am in that number.
For weeks, I’ve been trying to get my hands on Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. Everyone who takes up residence in Shondaland, of course, is cosigning the book that will supposedly open the floodgates of your life to welcome in new opportunities and purpose. I read a sample, and I’m intrigued to know what her journey has been. That said, this is not a book review.
Too bad I’m not a famous writer with a book agent, otherwise, I’d beaten Shonda to the punch. My year of yes began at the end of 2014, and it all started with an Editor’s Letter by Amy DuBois Barnett, then EBONY Magazine editor-in-chief. She’d experienced her own of year of yes in 2013 (I think I threw that issue away so I can’t quote her) agreeing to do things she hadn’t done before, and like Shonda and others, her life changed.
Then I thought I needed a change.
A little background first:
In the words of Cabbie on Brown Sugar, “I’m a goer.” Or atleast I used to be. I go places. Everywhere. If I’m invited, nine times out 10, I’m there. I’ve always liked to do stuff. I’ve been out of college nearly 15 years, yet friends still think I know where the party is. In my circle, I was crowned Chairwoman of the Entertainment Committee. I’d never had a problem with walking into a room, seeing someone I know well enough to chat and joke with them and jumping right in. I lived to go, see and do, sometimes to a fault.
Because I’m older now, my priorities and interests have long shifted from standing in packed clubs and parties to preferring more intimate settings and one-on-one (no more than four) conversations. I love trap music in the car, but in a club, it just makes folks look and move foolishly. I rarely go out anymore, and when I do, I’m either borderline Alessia Cara or the awkward chick (wrote about that here) or out of my element. None are fun to be around.
People closest to me don’t know who I am anymore, and sometimes I don’t either. Maybe because they confused being a socialite as being my real personality, instead of just a phase. It seems like I looked up, and I didn’t have a life anymore, so when I read Amy’s words, I was convicted to try new things. All of the self-help stories floating around the Internet and in magazines gave instructions to do things I felt I should have been doing for a fulfilled life: build your personal and professional network, get out of your comfort zone, get a hobby. Don’t be afraid, and say yes—to something.
So after much coaxing from a friend who’s involved in everything, I did. I said yes to work with community organizations, invitations to book discussions, after-work networking events—all of the things I’d usually pass on. And it’s been something.
I’ve met some awesome people, done some rewarding and fun things and spent nights in downtown lounges instead of squarely sitting at home, but ultimately, I ended up with a packed calendar and a ton of guilt when and if (and it was rare) I couldn’t make a meeting or engagement. Even if I was dog-tired from my job. Even if I’d rather be running errands for my mama or even if I had interviews to transcribe. No excuses though. Folks juggle that and more every day. Suck it up and honor your commitments, I told myself.
It’s taken me over a year to figure out that perhaps I said yes to the wrong things. Instead of saying yes to things and ideas that have been suggested to me, I should be saying yes to doing more for others and not myself. To being more open. I should be saying yes to only participating in things where I can make an impact or I have a true interest in. Engaging in things just for the sake of doing it doesn’t work as well for me. Where and how we invest our time should be fruitful and not for show.
Those are pretty much my goals. I’m no longer creating vision boards. Not because they don’t work, but because I’m still working on them. I’m no longer treating my life like an annual project. There’s nothing wrong with adopting a new way of thinking and acting on it. You want a Year of Yes, do it. But be strategic and do to what matters to you, not what someone else says you say yes to.
Happy New Year and I pray God’s blessings continue to shower us in 2016.