(Originally seen on Foliohport.com)
“New York is a diamond iceberg floating in river water.” - Truman Capote
This past weekend marked my anniversary with New York.
I find myself reflecting each year as the date rolls around.
I’ve been swept up in the energy of a city that never sleeps and changed right along with it.
I moved here three years ago from sunny Los Angeles. I had been living in a bubble in LALA land, and I couldn’t see the forest for the trees of my life. I was wrapped up in the routine and patterns that defined me.
My life was absolutely fine, but fine has never been my goal.
I was bored. I felt stuck. I was in a rut that I had been trying to think myself out of. I’ve found, though, that you can’t think your way into or out of change.
It was around this time, at the height of my apathy, that I took a trip to New York to visit some girlfriends. There is nothing like a change of scenery to change your perspective.
During my visit, I got it in my head that I had to move to New York, and a cab driver corroborated everything by telling me, “You’re going to be a millionaire if you move to New York.” It was a done deal.
Jokes aside, my gut was screaming at me that I needed to shake things up, and this was it.
Back in my sun-drenched apartment in LA, my gut feeling turned into an obsession. Within two weeks I had put in my notice at my job and with my landlord. Another few weeks found me on a one-way flight to JFK.
Call it irresponsible. Call it crazy. Call it running away. Call it ballsy or adventurous. Call it what you will. I needed the move. I needed a kick in the ass. Or more gently put, I needed a completely different experience to open myself up to what else was possible.
They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I was ready, and New York became my teacher.
As a teacher, New York had varying approaches, not all of them very orthodox.
Sometimes New York spoiled me, throwing opportunity and lavish experiences my way. Other times it tested me with challenges and uncomfortable situations. Sometimes it stretched me, and other times it made me shrink, taunting me to see what I’d come up with. It put me in rooms and with people who made me sweat. It tested my voice and resolve. It questioned my patience.
Once in a while, usually when I didn’t think I had anything else left to give, New York threw a pop quiz my way that I wasn’t prepared for. But, the guru that it is, New York always followed its lessons with a reminder that everything is going to be okay, more than okay.
This year, as I reflect upon my move and the girl who came here, I’m in awe of how much has changed and how much I’ve learned along the way.
From where I sit today, it is everything and nothing like I expected it to be.
I moved to New York single, jobless, and unsure of the direction I wanted to point myself in. I had one foot out the door of my acting life, but that tapping foot had no idea where it wanted to go. Three years later, I’m living with the love of my life, I’ve had multiple jobs and tried out a few new career paths that have led me to my passion for coaching and entrepreneurialism. I’ve met mentors and made new, inspiring friends. I’ve found more of myself.
I’ve learned how many of the cringe-worthy cliches we hear are annoying because they’re true. I’ve learned you do have to love yourself first, and life really does start at the end of your comfort zone.
In a city where you’re often sardined and personal space is a luxury, I’ve learned how to create spaciousness. In a city that never sleeps, I’ve learned the importance of slowing down. In a city where anything goes, I’ve learned the power of setting boundaries.
New York reminds me constantly that control is an illusion. Anytime I threaten to forget this, it’s right there waiting for me with a smack down. Sometimes a literal smack down...like my bathroom ceiling caving in with sewage onto my freshly blown-out hair as I’m leaving for an interview.
As I think about New York, this teacher of mine, I think about the example it leads by.
It’s a city that continues to thrive and pulse with energy despite hard times, attacks, and storms that weather it down. It’s a city that embraces change with its constant evolution, yet manages to respect its past. It’s a city that takes its limitations and makes them its strengths, building upward, and creating beauty in the cracks in between.
New York has taught me that we figure things out by trying and by failing. It's taught me that we can’t just talk our way into lasting change. We have to go out, try, fall, fail, and happen to life.
I’m not suggesting everyone who is looking for change to pack up and move. Far from it. Often, change starts from within, right where we are. But, change isn’t easy. We’re wired to repeat habits and patterns.
So, if you’ve got a gut feeling that just won’t go away, that seems unrealistic, crazy, or ballsy - I say, listen to what that voice is whispering. Maybe it’s your teacher showing up. The question is, are you ready?
P.S. For those of you wondering, LA or NY? My answer is both. But, NY pizza wins every time.