Hannah Rickard is a 2022-2023 Fellow at DTE where she is the Beacon Park Fellow. Learn more about Hannah below.

Right Where I Am Supposed to Be

Twenty-nine is a funny age. You feel like you are teetering on the brink of something greater than you think yourself capable. Society sells us infinite iterations of how we should feel, where we should be, and who we should be at the age of thirty. These iterations provide a feeding ground for anxiety. As a deeply empathetic and hypersensitive person, I risk being consumed by this anxiety; anguishing over if my thirty will look like the thirty society dictates. Eventually though, I surface from this space and question why I continue to fall for this toxic trap, wasting my time caring about what society thinks of something so natural and inevitable as getting older. During these moments of clarity, I remind myself to focus on where I am, and not where I should be, and suddenly everything becomes less scary. 

On December 16th, Challenge Detroit (CD) hosted a “Leadership Friday” session with former CD Fellows. As fate would have it, I was sitting at a table with a Fellow from the 2021-2022 cohort, Effie Alofoje-Carr. Though she had presented at a previous CD session back in October, I hadn’t had the opportunity to speak with her directly. Effie herself was one of the older Fellows during her year with Challenge Detroit. My moment had arrived, and I had to ask, did she also feel this pressure, this age-related anxiety and doubt about where she should be in life? Turns out, she did have similar sensations. Listening to Effie’s thoughtful response, I remember feeling a sense of relief that comes with being seen and understood. She got it, and something clicked. Despite having numerous conversations with family and friends, complete with various forms of reassurances, sometimes those same sentiments hit differently when conveyed by certain people in specific moments in time.

After two days of solo driving, I finally made it to Detroit from Miami. My new adventure begins!

Effie talked about how she had felt behind, how she had felt lost, feelings that I too was experiencing. But then, she talked about her belief that everything happens for a reason. In rushed a flood of thoughts from the past few years. After just over a year and half of being back in the United States, following living in France for five years from August 2016 to July of 2021, I still felt scattered. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, and I was having trouble translating the sense of identity I had worked so diligently to cultivate in France to my current environment. Yet, Effie’s response grounded my swirling thoughts and reminded me of my faith, which has only strengthened since my move back to the U.S. Why was I questioning if I was in the “right” space, when I have yet to be in the “wrong” space in my life thus far? Effie’s journey is her journey, and my journey is my journey. And as she said, everything is happening as it should, when it should. Her words signaled a reemergence of my impatience to let go, and let life unfold. Being patient throughout a journey still underway is part of having faith, activating the ability to maintain trust despite an unknown future. 

Whether twenty-nine, and years out of grad school, or twenty-three, and just months out of college, if I am in Detroit as a Challenge Detroit Fellow, it is because I should be here. While I still have my human moments of questioning myself and my decisions, with each day I become better at relaxing into the present. The more time I spend questioning and wondering “what’s next?”, the less time I have for absorbing and appreciating the details of my current journey. For now, I am grateful to spend my last eight months, three weeks, and four days of twenty-nine as a Challenge Detroit Fellow, learning from other Fellows of all ages and backgrounds, and patiently awaiting whatever my journey holds next.


 About Hannah:

Hi, I’m Hannah! Originally from Traverse City, Michigan. I have been blessed to live in New York City; South Hadley, Massachusetts; Paris, France; Miami, Florida, and now, Detroit! I received my undergraduate degree in International Relations with a minor in French, from Mount Holyoke College in December of 2015, and my master’s degree in Migration and Interethnic Relations, from Paris City University (Université Paris Cité) in Paris, France in September of 2018. I love people and learning about ways of life different from my own. I am an avid baker, a big time foodie, and I walk everywhere!

Why should someone apply to be a Fellow?

I encourage others to apply to be a Challenge Detroit Fellow because you can never learn enough from passionate people!