Things are not perfect, but I've been thinking a lot lately. I've been taking a step back and trying to figure it all out - my goals, my future, etc. At risk of sounding dramatic, I'm trying to figure myself out.
Moving to a new city - albeit, a big city - was not easy. I had to adjust to being away from
family and friends, push myself out of my comfort zone to make new friends, and learn how to work in a professional setting for the first time in my life. Next, factor in the unraveling of my 4-year relationship and learning how to budget my money (yes, these tedious tasks have more in common than you think). Finally, leaving an unpleasant environment - my own apartment - and moving for the third time in one year. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
Somewhere in between the shit-storm that was 2013, I forgot why I came here in the first place. When people ask, I usually reply, "For my job." However, that's not entirely true.
Before I moved to Philly, I was stuck in a dull spot. I wanted an adventure. I wanted to move to a place I didn't recognize with people I didn't recognize and explore it. I wanted to know what it was like to be completely out on my own and have to figure it out. I wanted to learn to rely on myself and prove to myself that I could make it.
It finally dawned on me today that this "tough year" I've been having is exactly what I wanted in the first place. I have just been focusing more on the mistakes I made rather than the lessons I learned. I got my adventure. Sure, I have problems, but the positives in my life far outweigh the negatives. My family is healthy and happy, I have learned once again how to be myself, and I have made it 14 months in this new city.
Sadly, I've been too busy mourning the death of my past that I have not looked around to catch these positives in a while.
When I first moved here, everything was exciting. I had no idea what people meant when they talked about Queen's Village or Fairmount. I used my GPS to get everywhere and for a couple weeks, I could safely say that I knew no one. It was challenging and I cried... a lot.
Even through the tears, though, I looked around more. My eyes were open. I would go for a walk and marvel at all the different types of people walking by. My cellphone was glued to my hands and I instagrammed everything I possibly could. The coffee I got in the overpriced, hipster-ish coffee shop down the street tasted better than any other coffee I ever drank. The cable cars were so cool and look at me learning how to get around using the subway. Even driving on the Schuylkill was amazing for me - I would just look at the cars on either side of me and daydream about the people's lives inside.
Sometime between then and now, I stopped looking. I became comfortable - I found friends, I found enemies, and traffic was no longer (or ever will be again) exciting. The coffee was overpriced and tasted just like the cheaper coffee I made at my own house. I did not care who was driving next to me on the Schuylkill just as long as they stayed out of my way. Life became life again. I focused less on the positive side of my move and more on the negative.
My thoughts centered around losing my relationship, being far away from my family, having endless bills to pay and constantly getting stuck in traffic. The negativity slowly wore me down until finally I burned out. I did not want to be in Philly anymore, but I also had no idea where I wanted to be. Home? Somewhere else? Really, I just wanted to run and hide from all of my problems.
After a long talk with a close friend, she pointed out, "You keep saying you are so worried about 'making it' and 'surviving', but you're here. You are surviving. You have an apartment, friends, a car, and a job. You haven't moved home yet and it's been more than a year. You are breathing and talking to me right now. If that's not surviving, I don't know what is."
It finally clicked - I was surviving. I got the adventure I wanted but yet, I just wanted to run along to the next adventure instead of dealing with my problems and enjoying the ride. Deeply surrounded by my negative thoughts, I lost the magic of the adventure. Focusing on what other people had that I didn't - love, money, etc. - just made me forget that I got the one thing I wanted all along. I got the opportunity to move somewhere new, make it on my own, and learn to rely on myself.
I cannot say all my negative thoughts are gone forever - we all know that is impossible - but for now, I'm learning to see the good again. Traffic will never again be exciting, but when I drive into the city, I take a second to look up at that beautiful skyline and feel small again. I take out my phone and snap a photo of a tall building just like a tourist - even if I've seen the building a million times. I am back to pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and realizing that it is helping.
In fact, today I wanted to go to an art exhibit in the city. It was a tribute to the 70's punk rock era which I am incredibly interested in. Still, I was worried all day - would I hit traffic? Is it worth it to drive into the city? Where will I park? But finally I overcame and decide to just go.
Unfortunately, when I got there, it was closed. I was bummed but figured I was already in the city and I missed the gym, so maybe I should just walk around for a while.
It was exactly what I needed. I watched with my eyes wide open as a skateboarder tried over and over again, and failed every time, at a new trick. I watched a burned-out photographer beg people to "Kiss, kiss" in front of the love statue. I saw people older than me, younger than me, people with more money and people with less. More importantly, I felt the magic of the city again.
So I just sat there, taking it all in. Finally, I realized I could be surrounded by complete chaos and feel at complete peace. I can't say that I'll stay here forever, but it's nice to know that - for right now - I'm exactly where I belong.