I love being a New Yorker, but there are a few things that make it quite a rough task. It’s that feeling of never ever fully winning. That a job is never done unless it’s perfect. When we know deep down inside that perfect doesn’t really exist even though we want it to so dearly. At least with things in respect to ourselves. Why is it so hard for us to say out loud that we deserve a pat on the back? Or deserve a break? Even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Why do we beat ourselves up so hard about things? And why do we judge others just as hard or harder than we judge ourselves? To make us feel better about ourselves? It goes for so many aspects of our city centric lives. Our careers. Our dating lives. Those we bring into our social circles. And those we make sure to keep out. How we view ourselves in the mirror. How we overanalyze situations to the point that they crumble. How we compare ourselves to this person and that person and those people. These feelings, they can be fleeting, but they are a part of a cycle that repeats over and over again. A strive for perfection that seems manageable but in reality is more than unreasonable a lot of the times. Add the subway at rush hour, highly egotistical people in our faces for 85% of the day, rent, the annoying dude at your subway stop that keeps purposefully breaking the subway card machine and making you an extra 10 minutes late every single time, transportation delays, loud tourists, overpriced fruit at the bodega, and a whole lot more things that go along with big city living. Well these things can keep us high strung, and in no mood to find peace with ourselves, nor anything around us. It’s not a healthy relationship.
How did I find a way to break the mold of the typical go, go, go, one track minded New Yorker that is endlessly looking for the next best thing?
Well, I stopped looking for the next best thing all the damn time. I made a commitment to slow things down by telling myself that is what I had to do to keep from getting jaded. I took notice when my stress levels went up, or when my mood was more aggressive or the world seemed much more near the end over the tiniest of things (all feelings that are so unnecessary), and it was these days that I tried to find new ways to take a few steps back as everyone and everything seemed to rush, rush, rush. I stopped comparing myself so much to other people (even though I catch myself sometimes still doing so, and I quickly snap myself out of that funk). I stopped being impatient (I even tried smiling when the people in front of me were too slow). Instead of swearing at the heat and crowdedness of the subway, I embraced the extra time I got to listen to my music and turned it up, up, up. I started to look at the sky more, and the details of the buildings, and the faces of interesting looking people. Soon, I felt like I began to enjoy things so much more and in a much better way. I always got my job done, but in this new way the process felt sweeter and more long-lived. Just because I live in NYC, doesn’t mean I always have to keep up at it’s pace. This decision was also what saved me my sanity. And in NYC, that is a lot to say. It was all baby steps, don’t get me wrong. And there are still days when I want to kick and punch something because this city gets me so annoyed sometimes, but I know I wouldn’t and couldn’t be anywhere else right now. And that’s because I’m doing the city on my own terms. It can be done. Just take a second, look around you and find the things you love and that inspire you to love. And then take a few more seconds, or minutes or hours contemplating these things. It’s the best way to make time slow down in this city, and it won’t drive you as mad, I promise. There are more gems than pieces of junk, although it seems the opposite a lot of times. But our minds can have a good way of turning things all around to the way we want them to be when we really need it. And thank goodness for that. If you ever find yourself falling into a rut, feeling low or just straight up fed up, you can also just imagine yourself running in a field of flowers. It’s a magical remedy.
For me, right now, the greatest feeling is one of content, but still with a calm and steady eagerness to grow and create. How about yours?
*** Images shot in Squamish, British Columbia