Back in June, I sat down one evening and reflected back on my experience in New York City, being that I was about to round out my fourth year there. I pushed it aside as life continued to "happen" and dodged back and forth about whether or not it was something to cling on to for my own personal reference, or to release in hopes that perhaps it would inspire or speak to others. Today, I'm choosing the later. The beauty of growing out of our shell is letting go of shameful thoughts, such as whether or not I should be ashamed about this story that's very, very personal. But where does shame get us? Nowhere.
"It’s one of those quiet, lonely, hot summer evenings in June. I’m rounding out my fourth summer in New York City, reflecting back and trying to wrap my head around how much has changed in so little time. I moved here four years ago with the mindset of wanting more, needing more. More experience, more independence, more exposure. I wanted a challenge in a brand new environment because I always seem to fidget when I get “too comfortable” with certain situations. I was so young, so eager, so determined. Completely fine with giving up the majority of my paycheck to pay for the small amount of square footage that most my age come to terms with in order to live in this city. There was a point in time where 12-hour days seemed normal. A night leaving the office when the sun was still out was a rare treat. I found myself giving up more of me with very little in return. Less time for myself. Less time paying attention to my own needs. Less time spent doing the things that I once loved so much. Less happy, to be honest.
I felt trapped and questioned how I let myself get to that point of unhappiness and disengagement, spending more of my time upset than actually enjoying things around me. I kept those moments quiet from others – friends, family…everyone. I had bottled it up and held it in, trying to push through and hold out for a light at the end of the tunnel. “Suck it up,” I would tell myself in thinking that I was overanalyzing or being too much of a downer. Because who enjoys being around a constant downer? I felt so selfish for feeling so unhappy, knowing that plenty of others were experiencing a much harder struggle in this world and that my unsettling feelings completely paled in comparison. I attempted to maintain those thoughts and push through, but quite abruptly, I reached my breaking point. There was something in me that was pushing back, that was tired of being tired and so damn down all the time. This wasn’t the Allison that I, or anyone else knew and I was so over trying to appear as someone that I was not. Whatever the true root of the problem, I needed to resolve it so that I could get back to being the person that I, myself, actually wanted to be around as well as several others that I had removed myself from, physically and emotionally.
Fast forward, and I got there. It was a process, but I got there and I’d like to think that I came out on the better end of things. While still juggling all of life, making time for myself became a priority and I was back to doing the things that I loved and needed so much. For one, I bid a temporary farewell to New York City in exchange for five weeks in Nosara, Costa Rica to pursue yoga teacher training. And it was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I took home with me the importance of personal well-being, both physically and mentally. Life is one hell of a roller coaster ride, but we only have one of them to live, so it’s in all of our best interests to make it one where you come up for air more often than not.
Because breaking can be beautiful too, you know. Paying homage to the hardships we’ve faced and embracing the difficulties and discomfort life hands us is just as beneficial as highlighting our happiness. The devastation and defining moments that hurt are just as worthy of our respect. Acknowledging the suffering – the aching that shakes our bones and the thunder in our hearts – is an invitation to triumph. [Quote taken from Darling Magazine]
Because yes, New York has certainly thrown pain and struggle my way, but it’s also gifted me with the ability to better understand myself. Maybe that’s how you realize that you’ve made it in New York, when success is the ability to find yourself among the ever-so-cliché concrete jungle. It’s helped me to make more assertive decisions for myself. Become less judgmental (and a bit more liberal). Not feel as much pressure to fit in. Understand when to say yes and when to very confidently say no. And most importantly, it helped me to realize that it only took a little liquid courage in the form of a gin & coconut water cocktail to spill the beans (aka my heart and soul) to the most important person in my life at that time.
There are pieces of New York that will forever be stained on me and there will be those things that I’ll gladly dust off as I continue on my way. Because those sharp, jagged stained glass pieces of ourselves find their fit into the puzzle just as much as the smoother bits do. The roads that pave our way certainly aren’t smooth – they’re full of potholes, crossroads and even a few pit stops. But instead of looking back and continuing to trip, you must look ahead and appreciate whatever will unfold in front of you."
With so much love,