The Art of Independence

August 25, 2016

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After three years of being a New Yorker, there’s one thing that I’ve learned. Being independent is an important quality to have in this city. In a city that seems to continuously be going in all directions and with new faces crossing our paths on the daily, it can be easy to be overwhelmed. I’ve thought about this a lot since I moved to NYC three years ago. And I know for a fact that my first few months here I would not have survived so easily if it wasn’t for my sister already being here, and instantly becoming my closest friend here. She still is. She was the person who calmed me down when I got lost on the subway and felt so frustrated at life. She was the person who listened to me vent when my boss at work pissed me off so hard I wanted to cry and kick and quit on the spot. She was the one who gave me a shoulder to lean on when I needed a place to escape from an evil roommate situation. And she was an open door when I needed to get out of my place and just shut things out for a little bit. The world outside one’s doorstep in this city can be a hurricane, with the looks of a bully that cannot seem to ever be conquered alone. Which is why I understand why the idea of seeking refuge with people who are friends or acquaintances, at all times, is a form of protection in this city that is a sea of ever-changing experiences and characters that can sometimes hurt us or knock us down. And the idea of facing it all alone . . . well that’s quite scary right?

I once wrote a blog post mentioning how NYC can feel to some, like the loneliest city in the world, despite all the bodies and all the action and the endless amount of things to do. That’s the thing about NYC, there is so much going on at once, time feels almost useless because there is never enough time for it all. Never enough. And well that sort of passing of time, of having what seems like the world at our fingertips, but not enough time to grasp at it, that can be a pretty lonely feeling. And yes, I’ve had that feeling many a times. And in times like these, I always try to change things for the better.

Instead of feeling swept away by time, I made the decision to use every second of my time. And I started by looking at the idea of loneliness and how I could change it with different sorts of perspective into something that I shouldn’t be fearful of, but something that I would want to embrace and embody. Loneliness vs. Being Alone. It’s a sometimes confusing concept, but there really is a major difference between the two. And the concept, for me, heavily relied on my sense of independence. How strong am I on me own two feet? How often do I rely on others for supplying the answers? How much do I motivate myself, without the approval by others? How confident am I in situations where I won’t have someone there to back me up? These are all questions I asked myself, and they all involved qualities that I knew were things that would help me survive the city that I live in in a positive and self-empowering way. So, I worked on strengthening these qualities, little by little every single day, during the times when I had a little more time on my hand to be alone with my own thoughts. Little old me, myself and I. NYC really is the perfect sort of city to be independent in. You can get lost in it an amazing way. A way that is much different from feeling lost in a lonely sort of way. Take away the crutches and find ways to utilize your time independently. You can’t always rely on a friend or a family member or a co-worker to be there for every sort of situation you find yourself in. So being prepared to have your own back is key. And you yourself should always be the first person you confide in before anyone else. You’ll find that by doing things alone . . . getting a slice of pizza, checking out an art exhibit, going to a movie you really want to see, taking a walk to the park, people watching, introducing yourself to someone new who seems interesting, etc. . . . are in ways the baby steps to becoming your own best friend. You might be surprised at how far from lonely you will feel after seeing how far you can get by just relying on your own two feet. Having your friends and family around the other times, well those are just extra perks.

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