I find myself sitting in Think Coffee, staring at the enormous building that is the Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards. Funny enough, the restaurant directly across the street is Mercado Little Spain, the first restaurant I ate at with my family after arriving last week – the first time I had ventured out into New York City since I landed.
I didn’t mean to end up at this particular coffee shop; it just happened to be the one I found after meeting several staff members at the church that is already becoming my new spiritual community. I sip my bright yellow turmeric latte, watching the tiniest little black terrier dog skitter past the window with its owner, feeling the most excited I’ve felt since arriving. My energetic color is probably as bright as my gold latte.
Don’t get me wrong: I have felt beyond thrilled to be living in New York City, the city I’ve dreamed of living in for the last decade! But there is always the transition period, where I feel utterly alone, without friends, without a community, without a plan. Some days I feel like I could run across Central Park and back without stopping; other days, I feel hopeless and overwhelmed, unable to muster the energy to leave the house. Living with family has certainly helped with that immensely – I don’t feel nearly as terrified or alone as I did when I moved to San Francisco.
But as I worked to find my footing when I landed here, I still walked through my first several days here feeling heavy, wanting to hide, wondering, am I really ready for this?
I wondered how long it would take me to make friends; I wondered how long it would take for me to actually climb my way up to becoming a professional writer; I wondered if I even really had a plan or knew what I was doing.
The answer to that last question is no, I did not have a plan, and no, I still do not know what I’m doing.
Of course, my good old friend, my inner critic, is attempting to have a heyday with this information.
You need to get a job right now. RIGHT. NOW. Why aren’t you concentrating on getting a job RIGHT NOW? Are you even listening to me?
Maybe you’re not actually supposed to be a writer. Maybe you’re not good enough to make it as an artist – writer, singer, actor, or otherwise. After all, you’re not marketable with your tattoos and piercings and colored hair.
You should stick to things you know how to do – do what you’ve always done, because you know you’ll succeed in those things. Babysitting, kids ministry, office jobs. It’s safe, and you know you’ll make money there.
And every time my darling inner critic says anything remotely related to my move and my future, I kindly say, “Thank you very much, you can go take a nap now.” Because it’s exhausting to constantly worry about me, and it needs some rest.
That’s not to say I don’t worry about these things – who wouldn’t? It’s terrifying to take a risk by uprooting and moving to a brand new place! I don’t know what’s going to happen!
For those first several days, I channeled all of my anxious energy into writing. I wrote two blog posts, and I finished the first act of the musical I’m working on. I spent hours every day on writing not so much because I love it (although I do – it brings me great joy) but because it prevented me from spending that energy worrying about the overwhelming mountain of ‘to-do’s’ that lay ahead of me. I did not spend any time exploring the city, unless it was to find a coffee shop in which to write.
Yesterday, though, I finally gave myself permission to go out and have fun in New York City. I bought a matinee ticket to see Beetlejuice on Broadway just because I could. I walked down 8th Ave while talking to my mom on the phone because I had time. I went to lunch today with the creative arts director at my new church and then spent another hour talking to some other staff members because I didn’t have anywhere to be.
And you know what? I feel more alive and fulfilled over the past two days than I have when I threw myself into my writing. I obviously love writing because it’s what I want to do with my life, but I also need a well-rounded, varied experience. I need friends, I need a community, I need hobbies, and I need a job. They all contribute to my well-being and health.
Right now, I get to hop into the fun adventure of finding where all of these are for me! I frame this new beginning as a time when I get to go discover where all of these new pieces of my life are – because they all exist already. It’s just a matter of finding them.
And I know they’re not all going to appear all at once – I’ll find them all one at a time. But I trust that I will find them. Right now, I’m working on a church community and friendships – and I’m only thinking about making writing and theatre connections for the time being. Once I feel more solid here, I know that I’ll find the right job and opportunities for me.
After I tuck in my inner critic, I remind myself that the ‘not knowing’ is the adventure. Yes, I desperately want to feel rooted here, with good friends, a supportive community, and an amazing job, but that’s just not where I am yet, and I want to enjoy this part, nonetheless. It may feel destabilizing, and that’s certainly an uncomfortable feeling, but when I can reframe my worries into more positive opportunities for adventure, I find myself enjoying this unstable, uncomfortable, unclear point in my journey here. I don’t need to throw all of my focus into seeking these things out and making them happen. I have set the intention to cultivate and manifest these things into my life; my job is simply to follow the path ahead of me, and doing things that right now that bring me joy.
Seeing a Broadway show.
Auditioning for the creative arts team at my church.
Walking through Central Park.
Spending time with my family, my cousin, and her friends.
Drinking good coffee and writing whenever I feel so moved.
Making lunch and coffee dates with new connections and new friends.
And when I do that, opportunities and friendships reveal themselves. I trust that. I have to; otherwise, I would feel overwhelmed all the time, frozen in anxiety and fear of the unknown.
Beginnings are hard. But they can be fun, if we let ourselves experience our zeal for adventure. I have to remind myself of that every day, but it’s worth it, to experience every bit of joy and excitement I can.
With love and gratitude,
(Cover image photo credit: Colton Duke on Unsplash)