Tag Archives: Sharon Hyman

Tips For Adulthood: What Would You Erase From Your Life?

On Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

A while back on Facebook, my friend Sharon Hyman – of Neverbloomers fame  (check out her new film!) – posted the following status update:

“If you could go back and etch-a-sketch away some part of your life, what would it be?”

Wow. What  a great question. I’ve always believed that regret is a central component of adulthood. But many of our regrets are really longings,  so we wouldn’t want to erase them, because they define who we are.

In contrast, I love the concept of the etch-a-sketch – that iconic childhood toy – to capture those aspects of our past that we’d truly like to eliminate so that even the vestiges of their imprint don’t remain.

So I got to thinking about what would be on my etch-a-sketch list. Here’s what I came up with. I’d love to hear from you, too:

1. Smoking. Yes, it’s true. I was a smoker for several years of my life. For a long time, it was just a social thing I did a few times a week with my friends when we were out drinking. This was college, after all, and our entire lives lay ahead of us. Who really thought about mortality? But then, during my first year of graduate school, I actually became a smoker. You know, one of those people who woke up in the morning and not terribly long after awakening, felt the need to have a cigarette. Boy, I wish I could erase that phase of my life. Because with what we now know about smoking – and its effects not only on our own health, but on those around us – I fully appreciate why my mother burst into tears when I announced to her that I was a smoker.

2. Not being an athlete. I’ve never been much of an athlete. As I’ve frequently bemoaned , during my childhood I was really only ever good at bowling and pool. In fact,  the only time I was ever actively solicited to join a sports team was when – during the orientation session during my Freshman year at college – some large, extremely fit blond creature ambled over and – no doubt hearing my rather loud voice and observing my less-than-commanding frame – asked if I’d ever thought about being a coxswain for the crew team. (Um, honey? I’ve never heard the term coxswain before you just uttered it but…um…no?) But in light of all the benefits sports have for kids – particularly girls – I now wish that I’d pushed myself to do more to participate in sports when I was young, even without being good at them.

3. My perm. Much like smoking, another erase-worthy event in my life is that permanent I had back in high school. We all have our hair issues, God knows. My own stem from my baldness and perennial wish that I could have more body in my hair than that one, isolated cowlick in that upper, front-left corner of my scalp. And so, during a brief period in high school, I sported a perm. I wish I could show you a picture – so that you might cringe along with me – but suffice to say that it wasn’t a pretty picture. My friends in college called it “The Jersey Flip” to convey that singular hideousness that is often attributed to my home state.

4. Not pursuing journalism earlier. Although I’m a big believer that figuring out what you want to do with your life professionally takes a lot of time and thought, I really wish that I’d become a journalist earlier on in life. I think that if I’d known myself better – or, better put – trusted myself more – I would have realized earlier on that journalism combined many of my passions in life, including writing, travel and, above all, analyzing people. I’m particularly drawn to the romantic image of the 20-something foreign correspondent in a war-torn country, dodging bombs and filing stories with a glass of bourbon at hand, a la Shutter Babe or The Year of Living Dangerously. Maybe it wouldn’t have been quite so romantic in real life, but it’s one of those things I really wish I could go back and do over.

5. Him. Oh, c’mon. We all have one.

How about you? What would you go back and erase from your past?

 

Image: Cigarette by Sudipto_Sarkar via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

 

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. A friend on Facebook pointed me to this hysterical post on Yahoo! Travel featuring excerpts from foreign travel guides about Britain. LOL funny.

2. Speaking of Facebook, here’s a terrific piece from the Montreal Gazette on what it’s like to dumped on FB (via the ever-lovely Sharon Hyman of Neverbloomers).

3. On a more serious note, I was quite taken with this essay by Clay Graham on the New York Times Modern Love column about what happens when work gets in the way of romance (but not in the obvious way.)

4. I always love Michelle Kerns’ quirky and insightful book examiner column on examiner.com. Here she is talking about the seven stages of grief you go through when you buy a hardcover and realize that it wasn’t worth it.

5. And while we’re on the subject of books, if you haven’t yet come across this little gem – I write Like – I’d suggest that you give it a whirl. It’s a website that tells you which famous writer your writing style resembles. I came up as Vladimir Nabokov and I must say that I’m quite psyched about that. Who knew that my writing was so racy?

6. Finally, for those who are interested, here’s my post on www.PoliticsDaily.com about the Church of England’s war over women.

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons I Love To Blog

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

As some of you know, last Friday was the first anniversary of RealDelia. And while I fully intended to break out the champagne…the confetti…the whole nine yards, somehow I didn’t quite pull it off. (I had hoped that my wife would throw me a party, but she was too busy that day).

So I thought that I would mark the occasion today instead, by telling you five reasons why I love to blog, and why you might like it too:

1. It helps you to find your voice. I have been writing for a long time now in my adult life. I started as a research assistant when I first got out of college. Then there was that long, hazy academic morass when I was a graduate student and then a professor. Over the past three years, it’s been a blend of personal essays, reported features and occasional fiction writing. But it was only once I started this blog that I felt that I finally found my voice as a writer, and realized that – with all my career shifts – that was what I’d been looking for all along.

2. It makes you more mindful as a person. Mindfulness is one of those new-agey terms that I deliberately avoided for awhile. But in fact, one of the great virtues of blogging – at least if you are blogging about your own life and trying to extract lessons from it – is that it makes you more aware of how you lead your life, in ways both large and small. In my own case, one of the major innovations in my personal life was my decision to stop working on Saturdays. And while I can’t attribute that decision entirely to blogging, I think that being in the habit of examining my life on a daily basis (on the blog) gave me the tools to step back and change my life.

3. You make new friends. There’s my e-BFF Sharon, of course – of Neverbloomers fame – whom I first got to know through this blog because of our shared interest in adulthood. Now we’re on Facebook, we Skype one another and I think a professional collaboration may come down the pike. But there are a whole host of people I can think of right off the top of my hat – Colleen, Mike, Kristen, Katy, LPC – to name a few, whom I never would have “met” except through blogging (OK, I did in fact meet Katy once but blogging is our bond.) And I’m so enriched because of those connections.

4. You become more disciplined. Yeah, yeah. It’s trite, I know. But it’s true what they say. When you start writing on a regular basis, it makes you a better writer. Partly because practice makes perfect. But also because you’re able to just sit down and pound it out when you really need to. Which – in my case – has come in really handy over the past nine months that I’ve also been writing for PoliticsDaily.com.

5. You learn a ton. When I started doing this, I thought it would be fun to share my small musings about the world with other like-minded folk. And it has been loads of fun. But it turns out that the best part about blogging is what you learn from other people, either because of a comment they leave on your post, or because you subscribe to their blog, or because you encounter them haphazardly while doing some research on – say – adulthood – and then you end up staying to see what else they’ve got up their sleeve.

In that vein – and to steal a page from Nicola (another great blogger I’ve gotten to e-know), I’d love it if, in the comments section, you’d leave a link to a blog that you really like and which you think I (and readers of RealDelia) should check out. Feel free to leave your own blog’s name. I’d love to come visit.

And most of all, thank you!

Image: Blogging Research Wordle by KristinaB via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Networking in Adulthood: Dating For Friends…Online

One of the great things about blogging is that you get to read all this stuff you’d never come into contact with normally, simply because you are now paying attention to – say – adulthood. This past week, for example, I can’t tell you how many wonderful reviews I’ve read of the movie, Where The Wild Things Are, all of which talked about its appeal for grown-ups.

Another great thing about blogging is that you get to know (ok, e-know) all different kinds of people whom you’d never meet in real life. That connection might come about because they left a comment on your blog or started following you on Twitter. Or because you saw them interviewed on someone else’s blog and you decided to get in touch. Whatever the source, the social side of blogging is one if its many wonderful attractions.

It was through a combination of these two channels that I came to discover my new e-BFF, Sharon Hyman. I was scrolling through one of the many “search alerts” I routinely send out on topics like “adulthood” and “middle age,” when I came across an article in the Canadian National Post entitled Imposter Adults. Intrigued, I read on. It was all about Sharon’s reflections on the process of growing up. It read:

I always thought that being a grownup meant you had the external trappings of adulthood: marriage, kids, a mortgage, maybe even a driver’s licence! Of course, having none of these, I presumed I couldn’t possibly be seen as a proper adult in this society. I also figured that being a grown-up meant that you had conquered the hopeless insecurities and fears that derailed you in high school –again, something I have yet to achieve. With these thoughts in mind, I set out to discover if anyone really feels like a grown-up on the inside, and what the concept of grown-uphood really means.

Sound familiar?

I immediately went to Sharon’s website, Neverbloomers (subtitle: The Search For GrownUphood), where I found out that she’s actually making a movie about said topic. I watched the hysterically funny video on the front page of the website, which includes clips from some of her interviews for the film.

And then – because who am I to turn down a personality test when proferred? – I took the Neverbloomer “Have You Found Your Inner Adult Quiz?” (Needless to say, I haven’t, though I did receive the result “grown up in training” which sounded about right to me).

I promptly emailed Sharon to express my delight and appreciation at having found her website. The rest is history. We’re now “friends” on Facebook.

I once wrote a commentary for Chicago Public Radio about the elusive search for female friends in adulthood. The thrust of the piece was to illustrate – by example – what a nightmare it is to have to “date” for friends once you grow up and have kids. But in this brave new world where most community-building takes place online, that’s all gone now. And so, like millions of men and women before me – I’m now discovering the joys of online “dating”…for friends.

And what a joy it is.

*****

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Image: 42/365 Meet My Best Friend II by Leah Mancl via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.