It’s been a whole 10 years since I graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in English. Man, it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to this year’s homecoming festivities (Shout out to the Class of 2001 graduates who were able to make it.), but I am there in spirit.
I loved college. I met people who changed my life, people who I’m still good friends with to this day. That time we spent at all-night study sessions in Markley and in the UgLi and those crazy parties at the Union and Elks Lodge provided the foundation for something much greater. Now I’ve watched all of those people I studied with, partied with, crushed on and debated with (on some REAL shit), become real life grown ups and do impressive things. These folks are innovative entrepreneurs, doting parents, corner office-having executives and creative types with mind-blowing ideas.
The University of Michigan Class of 2001 is a BEAST.
I really and truly find inspiration through them when I talk to them on the phone, run into them in NYC or casually happen upon their accomplishments online. All of that reminiscing makes me reflect upon my own actions in the past 10 years. So, here are the things I’m most proud of from the past 10 years in no particular order.
1. Moved to NYC
I moved to NYC on my own (well with my cat) with an apartment in place and a job waiting for me. I was on my own with no roommate and the money that I had saved from working 60+ hours a week all summer at two jobs. I had no close friends in NYC and was basically starting over in every sense of the phrase. That was seven years ago and that was a very good decision. (And actually, I know I said this was in no particular order, but this is number one because this decision was life altering.)
2. Married My Husband
He’s my best friend. We’ve been married for four years and together for about six years. Like any long-term relationship, it has its highs and lows, but that’s my Joshy Pooh.
3. Helped Shape the Greatest City in the World
I worked in urban planning for a few years in NYC. (Pause: What is urban planning, you ask? Urban planners help shape the look and function of a city/municipality. How tall can a building be? How is “affordable housing” defined in the practical sense? What types of uses can go into that building?) I worked for the Department of City Planning and for an elected official, so I got to put my two cents into the look and use of dozens of projects through out the city.
4. Became a Writer
I’ve always been a writer, really. I’ve kept journals since forever and I have short stories that go back to when I was in single digits, but a few years ago, I gave up a job in urban planning (a field in which I had earned a master’s degree) to give full-time writing the good ol’ college try. Pun intended. The result? Awesomeness. I became an award-winning journalist and editor of a very cool and very popular lifestyle site for black women. Interestingly enough, my first award for writing was for an article I wrote about urban planning issues in Harlem. Figures. I love urban planning. It will always be a part of my work in some way.
5. Got on Some Boss Shit
Recently, I left a staff job for the third friggin’ time to go back to freelancing. What does this tell me? This tells me I need clients not employers. I have the talent, creativity and balls-to-the-wall work ethic to turn my passion into dollars in my bank account. I hesitate to say NEVER, but I really don’t know what a staff position would look like that would make me want to grab it. In the mean time I’ll hustle hard. (Side Note: Have you been peeping my stuff on TheGrio.com?)
6. Became a Mentor
I’ve been volunteering and doing mentoring activities for years, but Girls Write Now is different. It’s an amazing organization that pairs professional women writers with teenage girls who are aspiring writers. Such a dynamic group of women and young ladies. Please click on that link and get familiar. I’ll probably be hitting you up soon for our upcoming fundraising drive. 😉
7. Became a Pescetarian
A pescetarian is basically a vegetarian who also eats fish. I made the change earlier this year and I’ve been sticking to it. My reasons for becoming a pescetarian can be found in a piece I wrote this past summer. You can read that here.
This list is not even remotely exhaustive, but it basically covers the major things. I’m def a work in progress. I have so much more to achieve and I’m up to the challenge. I sometimes get emails, tweets and FaceBook messages from strangers who identify themselves as “fans” of my work. Fans? Woah. Very humbled. I’m working on being worthy of having fans. Word.