Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.
In 2016, it was the moment that I felt in the flow in telling the story of Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2015, it was the moments after my hat was “stolen” in Rio. In 2014, it was a moment in a writing workshop that I had achieved greatness. In 2013, it was talking to Yasar Usta in Istanbul. In 2012, it was using the ocean as a “big toilet” while floating outside Palawan. In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End to the Night.
This year was full of ups and downs than the typical year. But was it those moments? When I executed a plan on quitting my job? Or when I went to constant protests and showing up to events? Or was it when I interviewed and received an offer? Or when I had decided that I didn’t care what people thought anymore? Or was it smaller—when I stopped being afraid of being quiet and spoke up, sometimes too much in a confrontational way (because of this year)?
I know that this year, it was less about the moments of ice cream. Although I still had some great ones at Wanderlust Creamery in LA and that constant flurry of great flavors at Garden Creamery in San Francisco.
What I do know was a moment that I had been at a conference earlier this year. It wasn’t about being on stage. It wasn’t about the fact that I got my talk accepted or that I stood in front of a huge amount of people telling a story that touched people. It wasn’t even after the talk when people came up to me and ask more about my thoughts. It was none of that.
It was the moment that stemmed from the moment that I had enough of skulking around one of the conference mixers, because I was having horrible social anxiety. For whatever reason, I was unable to connect with anyone. All conversations that I had fell flat and dwindled into nothing. Then suddenly, I found myself standing alone, awkwardly.
I had read Captivate earlier and was trying to read the cues of where to interject. I wasn’t going to end up like the awkward person I was in college where I had failed to make connections because I never tried. I was going to try. But everything kept falling flat. I kept looking for the feet pointing outward, but I just couldn’t find it.
So instead, I finally headed to the patio (a place where I had awkwardly entered already twice by this point). There, I noticed a group of people stand up, leaving a seat on the sofa open. It seemed like a prime opportunity, but I knew that the potential could fall flat leading into a conversation of nothing.
And it started super awkwardly. But somehow I made a good impression when suddenly everyone wanted to get up and I shyly asked whether I could join. And when I suggested “ice cream”, everyone cheered and I immediately earned my place.
It wasn’t exactly that moment. During that first night, I was still evaluating the group, trying to figure out who these people were.
I just knew that I had made a good impression, but nothing more. In the subsequent days, I made an effort to talk to people one-on-one. And there, connections were made.
But it was the moment at the conference closing party. Where I was invited to stand at a table, chatting with everyone. When suddenly a conversation about being conservative and liberal popped up. I thought carefully and crafted my conversation. But most of all, I was being me, communicating my thoughts. Insisting on my place as a woman of color. I knew that because the group liked me, they would always side with me. I thought that they were fascinating too.
We went to the rooftop of a boutique artsy hotel. On the way, we said goodbye to some. Then I said goodbye to another.
But then that was what it was. An instant connection all because I took a risk. I felt alive in the resulting moment, because I rarely if ever connect with people that instantly. Especially people who were so very unlike me. And then I did it.