I just moved to New York City
“I’m going to stop you right there. I want you to verbally list out three things that you have accomplished because you haven’t owned a couch.”
This is what you hear after you diminish yourself in front of your life coach.
I pause not knowing what to say. I pause realizing how much I use this metaphor. I pause because she just showed me a glimpse into how I see myself and it is a difficult reality.
I often resort to self-deprecating humor when I compare my life to other friends my age and it usually goes something like this, “So-and-so owns a house, a boat, and has two kids. I don’t even own a couch.”
“Verbally list three things that you have accomplished by not owning a couch.” She said it again.
“I moved to New York, I’ve travelled all over the place, and I have the freedom to move anywhere that I want because I don’t own a couch.” I blurted out. Not a sophisticated list, but all felt important.
“Not so easy to move across the country with a couch is it? Not owning a couch has meant freedom for you. That is a beautiful thing.”She said.
She has a way of spinning all of the countless ways I diminish myself from a negative to a positive.(See below, I could list a hundred more (I think we all could) The left is what I apologize for, the right is what she sees from her lens)
Finished my degree later in life=Wisdom and self awareness
Change my mind a lot=Growth and evolution in the rawest form
I had no idea how much I diminish, apologize, and tiptoe around things that I say and how I act. Now that I have the awareness I’m going to make an effort to pause and spin it into a positive. I over explain things all of the time when there isn’t a need to do so. We over explain our insecurities and I don’t want to anymore.
I’ve been seeing my life coach/mentor/listener since mid-November and it is amazing and uncomfortable, and emotional, and has given me a clarity and drive that I haven’t ever had before. I didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into, and didn’t really know what a life coach did, but I’ll try nearly anything when something lands serendipitously on my lap.
The conversations are usually on the phone, and it’s incredibly intimidating when a stranger says, “Tell me about you. This is about you.” It’s not very often that we are given the opportunity to have a willing listener. (Something else I want to improve this year, be a better listening friend) The first conversation with her I started with a lot of “ums, and I don’t knows,” but then I started telling the story of how/why I moved to New York. After a few sentences of telling my story to her, she stopped me, “So you moved to New York without a job, without having gone to school here, and only “sort of “knowing one person? Can you just pause and recognize that that is inspiring to me and you should be really proud of yourself.” I blushed through the phone and a smile stretched across my face the first time I heard her say that. (She says inspiring things like that all of the time, and it really seeps in after a while)
“Yeah, that does feel good, and I’m proud of that.” I usually talk to her while fidgeting on the floor of my bedroom and smiling. And then my story begins to flow out of me, comfortably, confidently, and clearly. By speaking life to my thoughts, feelings, and struggles I have been able to take an internal inventory. This inventory has helped to figure out how far I have come, but most importantly where I want to go.
My list of goals I want to accomplish this year is short, but very precise.
I have a new energy around my goals and feel really motivated to accomplish them. I have four things on my list, and one of them is to buy a couch. It’s no longer a soft place to sit, it’s going to be an extremely symbolic and emotional day when I make the purchase.
When I buy a couch I am putting down roots.
Roots! Something I haven’t been ready for until now. I’m always seeking clarity and have felt very spiritual in this new year.
I cut out a bunch of pictures of couches and put them on my dream board this weekend. I have a sexy little grey number in mind with a chaise lounge on one end…but I’m not quite ready yet but I have a feeling 2017 is the year of the couch.
I had a rough week. Nothing “bad” happened. It has just been emotionally draining and confusing.
Two weeks ago,my best friend (Haley) and sister-in-law (Jeri) visited me in New York and I couldn’t believe how home sick it made me. It was such a great visit, and we were New York’s finest tourists anyone has ever seen. These were my people. These are the pee-with-the-door-open friends. These are the friends that have seen me at my worst, and hopefully my best. I missed that sort of connection, and I didn’t know how much. When they left my apartment at 5:30am I sat on my couch and cried. Not a few tears, it was the kind of cry where you can’t catch your breath. My emotion took me by surprise because things have been going decent for me here.
But I realized that when they walked out of the door, I was alone. The silence hurt my ears. Their absence hurt my heart. I felt lonely in my aloneness. Alone chasing whatever it is I am chasing. Proving to myself whatever it is that I am trying to prove. I dialed my brother’s phone number this week and had to hang up immediately because I couldn’t get myself together enough to say hello. I just burst into tears. I miss my brother. And I am missing my niece grow up. I miss my nephews, and I miss my sister. I miss being able to drop by my parents house to chat.
I had a great conversation with a co-worker, Claudia, last night, coming home from the Yankees game. She has only been in New York for one year and she came from Texas. It felt good to vent, and to empathize, and to hear from someone that I look up to that she is still having a hard time. She seemed so put together, and tough. But she is feeling the exact same thing. She gets scared on the late night train rides just like I do. She gets sad when she sees someone talking to themselves on the sidewalk. She feels overwhelmed with the tight space issues. Hearing these things make me feel more…normal. I feel unsettled and alone this week. She encouraged me to fight for what I came for. Everything is a fight here. She kept telling me that this place makes you better, because nothing is handed to you. I think I am used to not having to work so hard to make things happen. I am lazy, and this is not fun for me. I have learned so much about myself, and humanity since I have been here.
Now I need to remind myself what I am fighting for. What do I want? What do I really, really, really want? I need to shift my focus on the fight. Fight for what I came here for…even though that is even blurry today. Despite feeling inadequate, I have to pursue my dreams. I have so much I want to do. I want clarity on what I want to pursue wholeheartedly. I wish I could break open a fortune cookie to see what I was meant to do.
Part of me has a feeling that I want to run…perhaps to the West coast? Perhaps to a little town somewhere that I can afford. Somewhere with a washer and dryer. Somewhere where strangers smile at you. Somewhere with pollen.
To sum up my stream of consciousness here. This week is hard. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Most importantly; I have great friends, and a wonderful family. Despite feeling worn down I am forever thankful for the people in my life, and for the opportunity to stretch myself. Even though stretching hurts right now.
When the train zips over the Manhattan bridge and you can see the skyline of Downtown and a glint of the green from the Statue of Liberty, that is when I remember that I’m here. I’m here! It is easy to forget the simple fact that I live here now. I need to focus more upon living in the moment, and letting these flashes of New York sear into me.
I have been temping again this week, but it is an entirely different experience than my first assignment. I was able to come in for an hour last Friday for training (which was a very welcome task for me) and I did not expect the delightful experience that I had. A smiling face greeted me and offered me coffee, and one of the first thing she said was,
“Now where are you from? I know you aren’t from here, you don’t look jaded.”
I told here where I was from, and she asked questions, and I felt like she actually cared. It felt so good to talk to someone with such a cheerful personality. I felt like she actually saw me. She gave me shampoo samples (it is a high-end shampoo company) and sent me on my way feeling refreshed and nourished.
The company is in the meatpacking district, my favorite part of the city so far. As I walked away and had a silly grin on my face because I was so happy to have a job that was actually going to be pleasant. I looked up and noticed that a huge crew of people were setting up to shoot a movie right outside of the building! Tents were being set up, and the street was lined with trailers where I’m assuming an A-lister was sitting right inside. I didn’t stick around to see who was being filmed, but in that moment I was so deliriously happy to be in this city of opportunity. It was the perfect timing for me to receive the spark of a “New York moment.”
I saw my first musical improv show at The Pit, and it was amazing. There are so many amazing people here that are following their dreams! I was also able to see Beauty and the Beast on Broadway this weekend, and it was incredible. I sat in my chair in wonder at the talent of the actors, and the beauty of the theater. Yesterday I ate lunch at Chelsea Market, and it reminded me a lot of Pikes Place Market in Seattle.
I am going to focus more upon looking around and really seeing New York…because, I’m here!
I have had people ask my, “What makes New York so hard to adjust to?” Everything is different. It feel like I am in a different country.
The main difference is space. You are in such close proximity to people in this city. You are forced to interact with people in a whole different way than in most other places. I am from the suburbs of Denver-not even the city. If I sat on a table for four at Starbucks in Colorado-I could be assured that no one would sit at my table with me, no matter how busy the lobby was. Here in New York, they don’t have the spacial luxuries to have a personal bubble. Every table, every chair, every bench bar stool, and sidewalk are full of people. New Yorkers seem to be void of spacial anxieties that most suburbanites have. This is both a beautiful thing and undeniably uncomfortable for me to get used to. I keep wondering how much my life would be different if I grew up here. You are exposed to people in a way that most of the rest of the country is. You are exposed to the arts, culture, the richest people, and the poorest people. What an amazing place to grow up.
I was able to work a few days this week through my temp agency. I filed papers, in a storage closet for 17 hours. I spoke to two people in three days, and they were just giving me instructions. My hands were busy, but not as busy as my mind. I was stuck in the closet-thinking and getting choked up at the thought…
“Is this going to be my life in New York?”
I was the invisible worker. Replaceable. As a temp you are quickly forgotten, so why would the employees invest any of their time into you? I get it. But walking in on my second day I felt an unbearable sadness. Another day in the closet. My feet hurt standing up all day in dress shoes, and my wrist hurt (the constant reminder of my former career.) I cried the whole way home on my second day feeling completely defeated.
On my third day temping for the same company, I was a little more hopeful knowing that it would be my last day filing endless stacks of papers, but I was still so sad walking to the train station. While I walked down the stairs, I heard the most beautiful sound. A woman played the violin in the middle of the platform with her eyes closed. I stood close to her in the sea of people and I wept, not for sadness, but for the beauty of the music that she was giving to all of us. She gave me hope to finish my day strong. She made me realize why I’m here. This is the city of dreams.
The violin has always sounded a little sad to me- and it was like the exact sound that my heart was making. I was so moved by the sound of her music. It gave me strength for the day… for the week. With each person I meet, who is chasing their dream, it gives me nourishment- and it fills my soul a little.
That, and having a roommate who brings me home a root beer float when the city takes too much from me.
This city is hard. But it’s going to be worth it. The violinist taught me that this week.