It’s my Birthday Month! My favorite month of the year! I love October. I love the Fall. And I have loved getting older.
That’s probably a very faux pas thing to say, being an actress and all…but it’s the truth.
I am a happily married woman, and the end of September marked my 10th year anniversary living in NYC. Really for all intents and purposes my adult life began when I moved to “The City” in 2006.
As I reflect back on the past decade of being a New Yawker, I am filled with immense gratitude for all that I’ve learned thus far (including the good, the bad and the ugly).
To celebrate, I’m sharing Ten Big Lessons I’ve learned (or am learning) from the past ten years in NYC.
(DISCLAIMER: In no way do these lessons mean that I have anything “figured” out. Au Contraire-I’m just getting started… ;)
1. Find something that brings you joy and just keep doing it, not expecting results. Ok- I know, I know, I know! I started this list with probably the hardest lesson (at least for me).
Sometimes I would get so frustrated that I wasn’t making money as an actor, or I wasn’t getting the “recognition” that I thought I deserved, that I would drop my passion. I complained that I couldn’t do something because this agent or that company didn’t notice me or see my “true genius.”
But somehow I started to realize that my immense joy of acting, writing and creating were gifts for me. In this creative flow, I feel truly alive, energized and inspired. And I don’t want to stop doing them.
When I began to realize that these gifts were something for me and couldn’t be taken away from me, somehow it didn’t have to be about the results anymore…(Even though the results can definitely be an added perk!)
2. Spend time on the “inside.” When I finally started spending time on the “inside,” my life in NYC really began to change for the better. If you have read some of my other blogs, you know I love walking in nature. I also love writing. Meditating and praying are also a big part of my life.
I think especially in a place as frenetic as NYC, it’s important to take time to slow down and go inward.
3. There is a fine balance between listening to the wisdom of others and following your own intuition. I have found that getting “the inside right” has really helped me with trusting my own intuition. I think of that beautiful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt- “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” But I also acknowledge keeping an open mind and giving respect where respect is due.
In New York, people are very willing to give you their opinion on everything. It’s something I’ve come to appreciate in many aspects while despising in others. It’s a balance I’m learning…
4. Do things outside your comfort zone. The things that I’ve been afraid to do that have been outside my comfort zone have usually turned out to be the most worthwhile experiences that I treasure.
As Sarah Bernhardt famously said, “Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”
5. It’s ok not to get along with everyone. This one is still a hard one for me. You see, I like keeping peace. I hate conflict. And there is some part of me that would really like to get along with everyone. But sometimes that’s just not possible. And that’s life. And it’s ok.
And in a sea of 20 million plus people in the greater NYC area, I really can’t (nor do I want) to be everyone’s BFF.
6. Be Honest. I used to think that I had to have everything figured out. I used to think that I had to pretend to know everything. I didn’t want to admit that I needed help or that I was hurt or that I didn’t know the answers. So I kept quiet.
But I really want to be better and do better. And I’m learning that if I’m not honest with myself or with others, I can’t do that. So I am committed to speaking my truth, as vulnerable as that may be.
New York taught me to be a little louder and prouder to be me. It is a place that encourages up front, in your face honesty. While it’s not in my nature to be an “in your face” kind of person, I am glad that New York encouraged this unabashed quality in me.
7. Invest in something outside yourself that brings you meaning. Find a cause you’re passionate about and spend a little time doing it each week.
One of the most life changing experiences I had in my twenties was working in a non-profit social justice ministry, Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries. I loved my time working there and being with the students in the after school program. There, I was literally unable to be self absorbed because there were 30 kids needing attention and care!
I think in a city where so many people have such strong ambitions and goals, it’s easy to feel isolated and a little lost. For me, working at RMM was a wonderful antidote to this
predicament and provided a wonderful grounding.
8. Support your tribe. Find people that bring you joy, that inspire you, and that give you energy. And then support them! I hate to admit it, but sometimes in the past I thought I was too busy with my dreams, my desires, and my goals that I forgot to pay attention to my tribe.
But I have come to see that those that build a community here whether it’s with family, friends, school or some kind of networking group are the ones that really thrive. Finding a tribe and building each other up is key.
9. Finding out what you don’t want is necessary to finding out what you do want. It’s ok to be scattered and to do a lot. It’s ok for things not to work out. I used to think I was too busy and trying too much, but now I’m so glad! I think it’s a great time to be busy in your younger years so that you can eventually invest in what you do want.
I have had so many different kinds of “survival” jobs in NYC throughout the years. I have learned how to be flexible, adaptable and work well under pressure with many different kinds of people. It has all been part of the journey. And I am certainly more clear about what I do and do not want now.
10. Be patient- Things Take Time. As technology and communication becomes faster, I think people (myself definitely included!) have expectations of instantaneous results.
But personally, I’ve also found that the most beautiful things in my life have tended to unfold through a process when they’re ready, kind of like the caterpillar turning into the butterfly. After all, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Before I moved to NYC, one of my acting teachers told me that it would take about ten years to get fully settled in the city. At the time my pride secretly thought that this wouldn’t be the case for me. But she was right. It has taken time. And I am glad for all I’ve learned.
So these are my ten lessons over the past ten years in NYC.
Now I’m curious to know yours!
What is some advice that you have learned from the past ten years that you would tell your younger self? Regardless of where you live, I’m curious to know what you have to say!
Please share in the comments below!
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