Is your “HH” Hollow or Happy?

I don’t know about you, but I LIVE for my happy hours with friends. But my perspective on what they really are has shifted over the years. What I want to get out of them has too.

Allow me to regale you with a retrospective of my personal drinking and dishing with girlfriends…

The Rebellious Years

At 21, when I first graduated from college and landed a job, it was nothing more than four night a week celebration of the fact that I could legally drink {whoo hoo} and had officially entered adulthood, whatever that meant. It was pretty f-ing fantastic not to have to run home every night to do homework. And, since my boyfriend of five years and I had broken up, I had a new lease on life. I like to think Britney Spears and I had simultaneous melt-downs in an attempt to “find ourselves.” Only mine was much more sporadic and didn’t involve drugs, head-shaving, or paparazzi.

So a few nights a week, I’d head out after work with one of my girlfriends to grab a drink after work. Of course this frequently turned into eating bar food or sushi, dancing ‘til midnight and occasionally bumping into said ex-boyfriend for a random hook up.  Happy – 0; Hollow – 1

The Gossip Years

By the dawn of my mid-twenties I had tamed my crazy ways and traded one set of vices, dancing and hooking up, for another, gossiping about frustrating friends, co-workers or whatever salacious scandal had just erupted in my world. I guess I thought that commiserating with others who were equally annoyed, I’d feel happier? Happy – 0; Hollow – 2.

The Searching Years

In my late twenties a darker shift occurred. As I approached 30 I started to ask some big questions. Like, could I really do this whole corporate thing forever? And if I couldn’t, what the hell would I do instead? What did I really want? I wanted to use my HH haven to explore these questions, but realized I rarely did.

My work bitching intensified and I held back a lot of this restlessness from my friends. Because I had it all. I made great money, had a great house, traveled all over. Who would honestly want to hear me talk about my “problems?” Wouldn’t they just think I had gone crazy? Lost perspective? Stopped appreciating all the blessings I had? And, was I really comfortable revealing that I didn’t have all my shit together? The few times I did let my guard down, I was inundated with advice, some helpful, some completely stifling.

This once sacred place of freedom and release had turned into a cage of shame, doubt, and rejection. Not because my friends didn’t love me. But, maybe because they didn’t know how to help me. Maybe they didn’t understand what I was going through. Maybe we all just got too caught up in the little stuff to see what was really going on. Maybe they were projecting their own limiting thoughts onto me. Or maybe I just didn’t know how to tell them what I needed. Either way, these happy hours were at an all time level of hollow.  And since I had discovered what good wine was, my bar tabs were exponentially bigger! Happy – 0; Hollow – 3++

The Collaborative Years?

Now, firmly in my early thirties, I’ve started to feel as though we women self-sabotage and squander the amazing gift we have in our friendships. We invalidate our feelings instead of honor them. We compete, limit, and ignore each other {consciously or sub-consciously}, instead of cheering each other on no matter how crazy our dreams seem.  And in a society of extremes, we use food and alcohol to come together to collectively numb the pain.

But I think it’s time to leave the numbing behind and reclaim these precious times with our friends.  To make them truly happy and productive by using them to collaborate and support each other. To be vulnerable with each other.  To admit that we don’t have it all figured out yet. To realize no one else does either. And to know that’s just fine. But to also focus on how we can help each other figure it all out.

And just like any new trend, some bold soul has to start it. Someone has to choose something different. Someone has to be the first to let their guard down, set aside judgment and be willing to try on something new.

I certainly don’t have all the answers on how to get there. But I have some ideas.

I’m all in. What I want to know is, are you?

So here’s my invitation for you…tell me one thing YOU’RE going to do this week to make your HH a little less hollow and a lot more happy.



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