The Real World

Its 7:15am. Somehow I’ve managed to wake up before my alarm, which pretty much never happens. I am shockingly awake, perky even. Its gross, but I’m actually sort of into it. Given that I don’t need to be at work for 3 hours, I make myself my daily cup of hot lemon water, meditate, and get dressed for the gym.

I’ve been waking up at 7:30am on the dot every day since I’ve moved, likely due to the fact that I now have windows – something I’ll never take for granted ever again. My last apartment move was made a bit out of desperation, and I ended up in a small, windowless room above Bagelsmith. So yes, I now admittedly wake up filled with this absurd contentment over having not one, not two, but three lovely windows, the gorgeous natural light pouring in each morning and welcoming to a new day. Silly, I know, but its the little things.

Late to class, of course. I just can’t seem to time my bike ride perfectly from my new apartment, even though its only 5 minutes away from my old place. The only spot left is in the front row, which I don’t mind, but it means I am going to be that late asshole that pushes her way through the group to get there. Owning it. Luckily everyone is too busy in their downward dogs, so I sneak in relatively undetected.

This is now my fifth apartment since I graduated college. I moved because I very much needed a change but was not ready follow the masses of 20-somethings looking for reasonably priced housing in Bushwick. I hate myself for saying it, but I love Williamsburg. Though only a few blocks south of Bedford Ave, my neighborhood is far less gentrified and much more interesting: the area is an interesting mix of Puerto Rican and Satmar, and on any given evening you’re likely to see people hanging out on the street, music blaring from tricked out cars and going to the butcher. I often want to wish them “good shabbos”, but I imagine they don’t give a shit that I’m Jewish too – to them I’m just another basic, upper-middle class gentrifier.

I think I have always been a bit restless, possessed by an innate need to keep things interesting, which is both a blessing and a curse because I am hardly ever satisfied (see: apartment + job history, dating life). For the first time, though, I feel fully content with my current situation and can actually see myself staying put. My boyfriend jokes that I’m living in a “Real World House”, but I promise its not nearly as wild as that, despite being a 6 bedroom – the roommates are all 9-5ers from around the world and seemingly have the same mindset in terms of relaxing and keeping a nice home, which is what I value right now. Considering I used to value how close I lived to the bars, I’d consider this growth.

 

Welcome Back

Shit, I’m going to be late. I always react with such shock, as if I’ve ever been on time to anything in 26 years. Though my gym is only 15 minutes away, I never manage to leave when I should. There are people out there who regularly show up early to things, whom I look at with awe: how did you become to punctual?  I hurriedly cram various pieces of clothing into my work bag, hoping they’ll make sense when I change after class.

Its 8am and “Shots” by LMFAO is blaring over the sound system. Our instructor, a perky brunette, demonstrates this morning’s torture: burpees, plank jacks, squats, overhead press, repeat. Just two days ago I was in a pool in Palm Springs. Why am I here? Several lululemon-clad women in the class around me seems to share this sentiment.

Working out first thing is a challenge for someone who is not naturally inclined to be fully functional before 9am, and its significantly harder after 10 days of vacation indulgence. Over the past year I’ve worked to make myself into a morning person, and while the aforementioned complaining may suggest otherwise, I secretly enjoy creating this habit. There is something to be said about that initial endorphin release and how it seems to make the rest of the day that much more productive. I’ve read that the most successful people have strict morning routines, and I’m trying to get my shit together.

Cool, forgot a bra. Shit only sort of together, though its not the biggest deal because the chosen shirt won’t be too scandalous without one. Small tits for the win.

Working in music also helps. The environment is very relaxed; arguably, too much so. My collection of floral jumpsuits and feels from my days at Conde Nast have been replaced by frayed jeans, tee shirts, and a general dismissal of fucks. The talent and literary department downstairs is still very formal; their interns walking around best suits and ties, in such stark contrast to the music staff that I often laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it. My career prospects are limited to places that won’t require me to wear a suit, hence my work history: music agency, music management, magazine, back to agency. I’m such a fucking millenial, and I’m okay with this.

Though happy be back in New York, I’m coming off such a post-vacation high that my productivity is admittedly quite low; my sloth-like place in direct contrast with the high-intensity nature of my job. For me, California is a slice of heaven, and experiencing with the people I love is absolutely euphoric. Mentally, I’m still there: floating blissfully through memories of leisurely swims with my boyfriend, stargazing with my mom, dipping in the Pacific and driving with the San Jacinto mountains in the distance.

For someone who daydreams regularly, I may be taking it too far today. Ultimately, I decide that I am permitted one more day of bliss, blaring “Safari Song” by Greta Van Fleet, pretending I am driving on the Pacific Coast Highway with the wind in my hair instead of tending to my overflowing, long-neglected inbox.

The Best Years

As a young woman in my twenties, I am constantly told to cherish this particular decade of my life. From the moment we leave our teens, we twenty-somethings are bombarded with the notion that these are the best years of our lives – a belief heralded by parents, families, older siblings, and colleagues alike. Recently I’ve begun to question the validity of this trope, wondering if they actually believe one’s twenties to be the most sacred or are simply nostalgic for the freedom of their younger days – before babies, mortgages, marriage and the stereotypical trappings of adulthood.  There is no doubt that one’s twenties are a pivotal time: filled with endless growth and fuck-ups that are (more often than not) easily forgiven and written off as a consequence of being said twenty-something. But now, newly 26, complete with countless triumphs, missteps, victories and failures under my belt and only somewhat of an idea of where my life is going I have to wonder: are these truly the best years?

I have never wanted a typical life, nor did I ever expect to have everything figured out by 30. My mom says that I am just like her at 26 – adventurous, willful and relatively unfazed by the future. There is certainly privilege in this overtly positive mentality that things work out as they should and there is no need to fight it, and its with this mindset that I have so far lived. Despite the frequent occasional “wtf am I doing” moment, I believe I have lived as a twenty-something to almost a comical tee. I graduated after living out the American college girl fantasy, equipped with a solid education, relationships and experiences that I will never forget.

I have been able to call New York City home for four years, which in itself is insane, but also unbelievably awesome to the point where sometimes I don’t even believe it (though I quickly remember when I see a rat scurry across the platform.) Working has afforded me the opportunity to explore the beginnings of a career in the entertainment world, and to go to more shows and festivals and create more memories than I can count. With the freedom to pursue my interests, I have learned more about myself and what I want in life, which in itself is a gift. There have been countless drinks, dates, apartments, 6am cab rides home from Bushwick, several awkward interviews, tears, bad decisions, trips, mini-tragedies, rooftop sunrises, missteps and little miracles. It has been a ride, but to think I have peaked would be more depressing than anything.

The freedom of this time is something that I know will not last forever, especially if I take the decidedly normal approach to life and settle down at some point. That luxury of having only to worry about the self, of being able to act on a whim is sacred and perhaps limited in its capacity as we grow older, but I am of the belief that freedom is not a privilege reserved for the young. There is no reason why my 30s, 40s, and 50s can’t be equally as awesome, though perhaps in a different way than my roaring 20s. I do not want to look back on this time as the best years of my life, but more so a blank canvas wherein the foundation is being laid for an ever-amazing, badass life.

 

 

To 25

Isn’t it nice to know everything and yet somehow nothing at all?

Youth affords a sense of entitlement, an ability to be both wildly confident and equally terrified of fate: to fail miserably, weathering catastrophic storms and seemingly irreversible damage, and then (quite brilliantly) to recover stronger than before. Resilience is a superpower, one that persists in the face of the mounting uncertainty that seems to loom over one’s mid-twenties. Or maybe its just mine.

While uncertainty so often begets fear, it seems that in my 25th year I have found the beauty in the unknown, on acting according to my desires but also knowing when to refuse, to walk away, to wait for the right fit.  There is no worry in simply not knowing – the mystery of what the future holds remaining untold, but an awareness each day I am afforded an opportunity to build, to grow, to be as I am and to ultimately become my truest self. My grandfather, a man of few words but incredible strength and wisdom, would always sign off each conversation with “carry on.” I plan to do just that.

Here’s to another year of learning, flourishing, being, evolving, fucking up and carrying on.

On Words

Those that know me well that I take words very seriously. This is particularly true as a quieter soul, as I fully recognize that words are weapons – ones that can be wielded to praise and persuade, to deceive or destroy, to heal and to harm. Too often we underestimate their value, forgetting that choosing instead to move on our own, stealthily, in silence.

I don’t understand why people choose to withhold, to save special words for certain occasions, or say things they don’t mean. Words that should be shared are so often contained by those who fear a negative response, preferring to hide in the safety of reticence. Others have no problem say things as they come, throwing their words around haphazardly with complete disregard for any and all consequences or understanding of their permanence. If only people could truly be cognizant of just how impactful a single word can be in bettering any and all areas of our lives.

We are groomed to believe that that actions speak louder than words, but for me there has always been an equal importance in things both said and done. More meaning exists to me in a loving message from a family member or a well-worded compliment from a friend than from a tangible gift. In relationships, words are essential – a frequent whispers of affection and love from a partner is all it takes to fall. As a result, I have fallen in love with promises that were likely never meant to be kept or taken too seriously, harping on their presence and taking them as fact. While I’m no longer quick to hang on a word, instead focusing on follow-through and delivery on such promises, I don’t ever want to lose my faith in the magic of words and the power they hold.

Moving forward into the new year, I am working to practice what I preach: to express myself fully, knowing when to retreat but never shying away from speaking up out of fear. I want to tell people I love them, to voice my concerns, express annoyances and feelings both positive and negative, without concern about being overly emotional. I want to be kind to others and true to myself. More importantly, I want to be around people who support that mindset, understanding that our differences and the breadth of our human emotional ranges should not be suppressed, but instead acknowledged as strength – an intelligence that needs to be embraced, harnessed, and expressed.

So here’s to opening our mouths and using our words for good in 2018 and beyond.

#makeamericaemoagain

WTF

Dear Universe,

WTF is going on?

I like to think that I give pretty good advice – I derive pleasure from listening to people’s problems and offering my take on things, providing a (typically) unbiased perspective and hopefully offering comfort or serving as a catalyst for some type of resolution. As I see it, all of my friends are incredibly powerful beings deserving of unlimited love, sex, money, success, happiness and fulfillment. The advice I give, sometimes harsh and always honest, supports that theory.

The same things I champion in others – vulnerability, fearlessness, strength, tenacity – have recently been completely lost when it comes time to apply said advice to my own life when I need it most. Despite being surrounded by love and an especially strong support system, I feel this incessant need to do everything on my own – to always be strong, strategically work through my problems, shove any negative feelings to the back of my mind, and actively refrain from burdening those around me with my own needs. I want to be the best that I can be in every role I inhabit, from daughter and friend, to girlfriend or employee. It is important for me to be there for others, but when it comes time to call on support I am suddenly paralyzed, terrified of becoming a “nag” or the “needy girl.” Why the hell is it suddenly so difficult to be there for myself, to be so easily giving but simultaneously unable to receive?

At this moment, my life is somewhat in flux across the board: I am having a minor, unexpected and unwelcome quarter-life crisis as I try to navigate the best next steps for my career, wondering if there is ever a time to choose profit over passion (I shouldn’t have to choose…I want both!) I am dealing with an ailing family member, which will imminently bring a devastating loss in the near future. While uncertainty can undoubtedly be exciting I know I will inevitably persevere, I am admittedly overwhelmed and in need of someone to lean on – to remind me that is okay to not be okay, to feel, to cry, to be girly and imperfect before refocusing and moving forward.

In addition to everything going on, I am falling for someone. Wasn’t necessarily planning to, but as well all know, life rarely (if ever) goes as planned. But that is a topic for another day.

On Quitting

I quit my job two weeks ago. No, I did not have another offer lined up or a trust fund to fall back on. Was it a reckless move? Sure. But it was one of the best I’ve ever made.

One of the things I am most grateful for is my incredible support system. My parents taught me the value of working hard, but also of maintaining integrity and involving myself only in things and people that make me truly happy. While they may not always understand my choices (not going to grad school), my jobs (a career in the arts/music industry), or my path in general, their support never wavers. My friends have always been there to listen to the rants that inevitably come with a less-than-traditional career path. After weeks of bitching about my job, I told them I quit and was met with nothing but unending support. Yes, things may be uncertain I will undoubtedly have to hustle my ass off, but they never failed to remind me I will land on my feet. That right there is worth more than gold.

While positive thinking and pursuing happiness is important to our overall wellbeing, so is getting to the root of our problems and taking action. Issues at work, in life or love don’t just go away and sometimes you need to sit in your shit and find a solution. Some things – including jobs, people and relationships – are simply not for you and cannot be forced into being otherwise, despite your best efforts. Maybe something that was once working for you and brought you joy, such as a dream job, partner or environment, no longer does. Mental shifts and change are all inevitable parts of life, and being honest with yourself (though scary as hell) is integral to individual growth. We are conditioned to believe that outright suffering is a part of the process, and while not everything is perfect or glamorous in the pursuit of success, it is important to recognize when something just doesn’t feel right anymore and to be able to walk away.

Quitting is not always the answer, but can serve as a catalyst for change – and it should only be done when your problems in a current situation are no longer fixable. We are too often and too easily tempted to give up on things before we have truly assessed if our problems are solvable. If you’re feeling unmotivated at work, can you change your mindset to become more productive? If you’re feeling an emotional distance between you and your partner, have you thought of new ways to reconnect? One bad week at work is no reason to throw in the towel and one bad argument with your significant other isn’t reason to break up. Knowing when to walk away is a valuable skill that should only be applied when absolutely necessary.

There is a shame around the concept of quitting, but I urge you to change your perspective. No, you shouldn’t abandon things before putting in the necessary work, but if after all of your effort is exhausted things are still not progressing, know that walking is an option. Despite what society has told you for your entire life, you do not always need to wait for good things happen. Taking agency is one of the most rewarding things in this world, and while things may never be perfect, we have full control over making our time on earth as happy as possible. If you are at a college you hate, transfer to find a better environment. If you aren’t getting fulfilled by your friendships, make new ones. If you aren’t fulfilled at work and there is no change is sight, leave and take a temporary position to keep the bills paid till you land the next gig. Do what the hell you need to do. If that makes you a quitter, then so be it.