Somehow, no matter how old I get or how diligently the city attempts to jade me – the simplest pleasures of life still outweigh the bad. Like yesterday morning when I took one step out of my brownstone and felt the soft snowflakes land on my face, and for the first time in a very long time, I remembered how carefree I used to feel.
The part of North Carolina I’m from was rarely blessed with snow days, and I can remember attempting to fall asleep as quickly as possible, and waking up incredibly early – just to see if maybe, just maybe, the weatherman was right. And of course, to determine if I was free from school for a day and could spend an afternoon sledding down the bumpy hill in our backyard, followed by my mother’s hot cocoa and my father’s chicken noodle soup.
It wasn’t until college that I really experienced what a blizzard could be like and if I’m honest, going to school at Appalachian State was probably a brilliant idea, for many reasons, but one huge one: to prepare me for cold winters in New York. Though it was surprising to have any classes cancelled because you knew what you were getting into when you signed your tuition check, but when we did – my friends and I tucked ourselves away in our apartments, watching America’s Next Top Model marathons, sipping on mimosas, and strategically putting off any homework. One of these monumential snows, Mr. Idea and I were snowed in, and though it sounds like I’m an old man exaggerating – we literally had to walk a mile to the nearest grocery store so we could eat for the week. He let me borrow his thick socks and pants that were way too big on me, so I wouldn’t freeze to death, and in return, I agreed to make his favorite cake. See, give-and-take, right?
But in Manhattan, having a get-out-of-work for free day doesn’t happen very often. To be a New Yorker, you must adapt the Postal Service mentality too – rain or shine, sleet or snow, we will arrive at the office at nine, frozen and already dying to go, yet making our boss the dough! With my high-heeled boots (yes, even in this weather), layered sweater dress, tights, gloves, scarf, and earmuffs – I walked a little slower to the train to enjoy the snow. I felt the incredible desire to spread my arms wide, raise my face to meet the cloudy sky, stick out my tongue, and let the flakes fall against me. I considered it for a moment, but then remembered my age, and decided I could just happily smile before going underground.
As I watched the people hurrying to escape the snow and ice, I thought about how I’ve spend the majority of my life reaching for and rushing toward something. I have never been complacent, stationary, or satisfied with the idea of just “being.” In a way – I have to figure, while I’ve lived, I have also been waiting for the life I wanted to actually start. Between sledding and studying for finals -I somehow managed to stop experiencing the freedom life offers and started focusing on tomorrow, more than today. In such a short amount of time, my life, who I am, what I want, and how I perceive my future has completely changed. Sure, I’m the same lady at heart, but I have to wonder – did I ever really enjoy those moments of peace? Of rest? When the snow gave me every excuse to do nothing, and now the same snow doesn’t give me any leeway? There has always been an end-goal, a plan, an unattainable person, title, or place I wanted to make available to me. There has always been a belief that once I reached this certain thing – whatever it may be – that’s when I could breathe. That would be when I made it.
And yet, as a 20-something who is now working as an editor, propelling her career, residing in the city she’s always loved – have I actually stopped pursuing the next big thing? Perhaps I’ve let finding Mr. Charming fall to the wayside (currently, anyways), but aren’t I still going and going, without a true destination in sight?
Do I feel like I’ve made it? Or maybe a better question is – what does “making it” even mean?
Since moving to New York, actually landing a job, and figuring the rest out as a I go – I haven’t remained still. There have been afternoons where I admired the city and all of its beauty; evenings wrapped around Mr. Possibility; nights spent pouring out blogs posts because I just can’t stop writing (even if I wanted to); – but there have also be all-nighters spent reading about how I can be a better editor, a stronger writer, and a profitable blogger. Though I’m very happy and proud of the things I’ve been able to accomplish in a remarkably short amount of time – there is always more that I want. And I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad quality to have – I would much rather seek more and therefore give and receive more, than to never help anyone (including myself). But if the constant pursuit for who I hope to be becomes more powerful than who I am right now – then I’m missing what will probably be one of the most brilliant decades of my life.
If I don’t stop to smell the roses – or play in the snow- am I fearing that success or love won’t come, and therefore keeping myself from believing that everything is really, truly, on the right track?
One of my dearest friends, L, when I get upset about a disappointing dude, a setback in my career, or when everything I thought was steady, crumbles, she tells me: “Linds, you just fake it until you make it.” This is her kind way of letting me know that sometimes, even when we don’t feel like we’re doing the right thing or heading in the right direction, if we have faith that all is well and going according to a divine plan, one day, we’ll stumble across what we we’re looking for. Or across something we never thought we wanted, but turns out to be perfect for us.
What if we don’t ever actually feel like we can stop pushing for something more or reach the decision to do absolutely nothing? Maybe “making it” is an illusion to keep us shooting for those things, those people, those addresses, those vacations or those faces of children we’ve yet to meet. Maybe to make it, we must realize and accept, we never really will.
And if we can just rest assured that if we keep going, if we don’t surrender when the days are long and discouraging, if we don’t stop being our own biggest fan – then we can also realize that in the middle of our going and pushing, hustling and bustling – it really is okay to raise our pretty face up high, close our eyes, and embrace the serenity of the now.