Before I kick this off, pardon the typos – I’m exhausted.
It dawned on me at 5:40 this morning that I have to write some things down. I don’t have anything groundbreaking to say, just some thoughts that have been brewing inside me. I have shared them with many in person, but feel it might be therapeutic to put some things in writing. I also think that documenting this recent chapter of my life wouldn’t be the worst thing. I haven’t had much time to write between my day job and teaching, but since some of my responsibilities have minimized – and I seem to be completely incapable of sleeping lately – I’ve got some spare time. I’ll backtrack a little later on some of the missing pieces but here is the big idea lately.
Since April, I have been toying with the concept of “my comfort zone.” A motto has developed in my head: “If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing.” Sounds great, right? A simple statement to remind me to push myself to new limits.
Great. Grand. Wonderful.
Most normal people would pick a new hobby or create a simple stretch goal. People with less sense (yours truly) decide to get a little crazy. I packed my bags, said ‘goodbye’ to all the people I’ve known and loved and moved 1,400 miles away to New York City.
Now before you think this is some pity party filled with regret or me looking for sympathy about how I’m all alone here – it isn’t. Do I have a few friends here? Yes. Is this something I have been contemplating a while and have thought through? Yes. Having said that, no matter how much of a planner I try to be, NOTHING prepares you for the emotions or the panic that creeps up when boarding a plane that’s the first step to changing your life. I spent the last 6 weeks putting on my big boy pants in front of everyone and acted calm, cool, and collected. Within 30 seconds I went from “going on an adventure” to “Stage 5 Freak Out.”
“What the hell am I doing?”
“Why didn’t I just learn a new language?”
“I have to start a new job AGAIN and this time I brought it on myself.”
“Did I lock the door?” – You never escape mild OCD.
“Is this what a panic attack feels like?”
“Am I dying? I think I’m dying.”
We have crossed over into the “Uncomfortable Zone.” It wasn’t cute. It was terrifying, lonely, weirdly exciting and every bit of overwhelming that it could be. Thankfully my neighbors on the plane didn’t seem to notice or mind me really leveraging my Breath App on my Apple Watch. I had never pressed “breathe again” so many times in a row….I had never pressed “breathe again” ever.
72 hours later I moved into my temporary home with strangers (a family with a dog) that have been so kind and gracious, have seen more of Manhattan than I thought possible in this amount of time, successfully navigated the Subway, got lost twice, paid to use the restroom multiple times (they aren’t kidding when they say “Customer Use Only”), reacquainted myself with some friends, had a few freak out moments via text with others (thanks, by the way), started my new job, viewed 8 apartments and submitted an application for one in Spanish Harlem.
Apparently it’s not the place it used to be. Either that or I’m going to die. I’ll keep you posted on that.
All that being said, while “comfortable” is a VERY strong word, I am developing some sort of groove and acclimating ok. I even gave directions on the subway yesterday. New Yorkers are friendly and smile at you. They say “thank you” and even hold doors open. Once I get into my own space and finally nail down a routine I think I’ll be able to swing this.
I think the reason people are so afraid to do something different is because of simple fear of the unknown (and devastating failure). Being uncomfortable with your situation (in most cases) is really a state of mind, not an actual physical dilemma. Getting through the discomfort is actually the simplest part – the secret is to just pull the trigger and do it.
While I do NOT have this life figured out nor am I some man filled with words of wisdom, putting yourself through a new experience (big or small) is the best way to stretch and grow. The steps to success are pretty simple:
- Just have some sort of plan.
- Be flexible so that plan can change.
- Know your support network.
By the way they are the real heroes – and if you’re reading this you know I’m talking about you. Friends have checked on me. Some have introduced me to friends they know just to help me feel more comfortable via social media. Coworkers have text me wishing me good luck on my first day at work. My dad (who rarely calls) picked up the phone on Sunday and asked how my first day as a “New Yorker” went.
Not to be cliché, but I have never felt more lucky and fortunate. If nothing else, what I thought would be a personal journey of self-discovery has transformed into me recognizing all the love I have in my life.
Not to bad for a perpetually single man.
Also not to be cliché, but it just dawned on me that I’m sitting in a Starbucks working on my blog.
All I need is a Pumpkin Spice Latte and an infinity scarf.