January 15, 2013

Uncertainty & Newness

Confession: I should be socializing at a swanky midtown financial firm right now. Instead, I am curled up under the covers in my bed. I feel over-the-top guilty for flaking on this event, but I could hardly entertain the idea of dressing up, smiling wide, and making small talk with people I don't know or don't care to see, never mind actually go. Just the thought of it exhausts me. Hence, the bed and blankets rather than the dress and heels.

I am overwhelmed. That's not the first time I've confessed that, I know. I keep thinking I will catch up and my calendar will clear and I will have time to take a deep breath before diving in again. I'm realizing it's not a matter of catching up or waiting for my calendar to clear. It's not that I'm busybusybusy and just have a lot things to check off a list. (Actually, it is that in part, but it's more, too.) It's a sense that I am fumbling around in the dark; it's a fear that I'm acting without the guidance of priorities and values; it's a whole lot of uncertainty and newness.

It is a whole lot of uncertainty and newness. It's still a new city and new school and new apartment (times two) and new roommates (times two) and new job and new classmates and new acquaintances and the list goes on... Do these types of transitions get harder as one gets older? Or is it just that I've had quite a few of them pile up in my twenties - central NY, VT, ME, CT, DC, and NYC?

I went to Maine this past weekend to hug my friends and try on bridesmaid dresses and drink coffee I love and order food at places that still know my name and pick up old conversations where they last left off and remember what winter looks like with snow and hold on so tightly to people I love. To who people who love me. It was easy and free and joyful. To know and be known.

Still, I am happier living in NYC than I was living in Maine. My life in the city fits better, gives me more room to breathe, more room to grow, more room to love. "Do you miss Portland?" he asked from California over facetime while I stood in his kitchen. "Yes, but I love New York," I told him. His answer? "I know." They all know, we all know, and maybe that is why I returned to the city Sunday evening and proceeded to spend the past two days again feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and uncertain. How do I even begin to build a life here that sustains my love of this city?

I thought it meant saying yes and yes and yes to almost everything but especially to things that involve the possibility of new friends here in the city. I miss my far-away friends. That's something I could confess almost every hour of every day.

Tonight, as I faced yet another attempt to find people in the city who might come to know me the way my far-away friends know me, I realized that only some form of myself would show up at the event tonight. Some cranky, exhausted, overwhelmed, uncomfortable shell of myself would try to smile calmly and listen intently and speak intelligently. I would think about every movement, every syllable, and every reaction while completely ignoring everything I was feeling. Well, that's a solid way to perpetuate my feelings of disconnection that I've had lately. Hrmph.

So I decided not to go. I'm exhausted, overwhelmed, uncertain, uncomfortable, disconnected, and I miss my friends. I don't feel like going. And I think that's fine. Nobody is counting on me going other than the office assistant who took my formal RSVP and the kind-of co-worker who talked me into going but never really followed up with me. I'll feel guilty about it for a while I am sure, but right now it's more important to me that I stay true to my feelings of being overwhelmed, exhausted, uncomfortable, etc, etc, etc. I've ignored them long enough, hoping they would just go away. They didn't, so now I think it's time to direct my attention their way and hang out with them a bit.

And maybe after I've spent some time listening to those feelings and getting some sleep and checking things off my to-do list, I'll be in a better headspace to make a nearby friend or two. And maybe, little by little, I'll build a life here that I love as much as I love this city.


  1. Oh girlfriend you write what is in my brain. I'm in Toronto and left my friend s and family behind in Portland, OR almost 2 years ago. I love moving and seeing things and meeting new people but I always miss my friends and my family.

    Sometimes I feel the same way, overwhelmed, disconnected, uncomfortable. It's hard to pull out of but we'll manage. For me, I'm still out of it from Christmas and visiting home but a few days of work and I'll be back in the swing of things. I hope you find your way :)

    1. It is always so nice to know I'm not alone in these things. It takes time to build a life in someplace new, doesn't it? I always want to rush the process. I think I'm experiencing a bit of the same thing with all the time I spent over the holidays with family and friends. It's hard to leave old comforts and return to a place that still feels so new. I think we'll both find our way, though. =)

  2. i grew up in a family that went to EVERYTHING and said yes to EVERYTHING and you didn't stay home from ANYTHING unless you were puking up your guts. so it feels super unnatural to me to just say no and stay home. but i'm learning. it feels wonderful to know you can.

    1. Yes, yes, yes - you are so right. After I got over the guilt of saying no, I had just the evening I knew I needed - quiet, cozy, and comforting. I need to say no more often too. And maybe that will help me say yes to the right things more often also? I'm hoping...

  3. It's okay to flake and take some time to yourself every once in awhile. I completely understand what you mean about summoning up the energy and enthusiasm about finding (and making) new friends as well. It's exhausting and sometimes you wonder what it's all about. But I'm glad that you do like NYC, despite all the tiring newness and that someday it will become a comfortable "familiarness" instead

  4. I do like NYC and I think one of the things I will like even more as time goes on is that there will always be something new to discover in the city. I'm just getting an overdose of new right now, I think. I'm looking forward to classes staring and returning to an old routine!