14 Things I’m Giving Up in 2014

The past week has been unusually warm in Manhattan. The air feels crisp and inviting, the atmosphere of the streets lively and fresh, and the people – myself included – invigorated for a New Year. I always make resolutions and oddly enough, I do actually keep them. There’s something about January 1 that makes me feel like I get a second chance (or a 26th one…) to improve bad habits or start great ones.

In 2012, I spent a lot of time holding back and not compromising. If my friends wanted to go out, I almost always selfishly insisted on the west side so I’d have an easier commute. If I was asked out on a date by a potentially wonderful man – but he suggested the Lower East Side on a Tuesday – I would have politely declined. But in 2013, I made a vow to say “yes” more – and that’s exactly what I did:

I said “yes” to Mexico in April. I said “yes” to late nights and early mornings. Yes to training for (and completing!) a half-marathon. Yes to kissing a nameless man on the corner of West 4th at 2 a.m. Yes to walking all the way across the park with Lucy in tow to the east side to visit friends. Yes to going all the way to Brooklyn for brunch — and thoroughly enjoying myself. Yes to trips to North Carolina three times, yes to new foods and new drinks, new clothes I normally wouldn’t wear, yes, yes, yes!

But in 2013, I also said “yes” to a lot of negativity.

And even more fear. I said “yes” to those really terrible thoughts that made me feel like everything that could possibly go wrong, did. I said “yes” at the expense of myself, sometimes sacrificing what I really wanted to make someone – anyone – happy. I said “yes” to thinking the absolute worst in every situation, every person, every date that left a bad taste in my mind. I did learn how to take those chances and change my attitude, but in ways that made me stronger.. and weaker, too.

What I want the most out of 2014 is to be happy. And so many things can contribute to happiness: health, friends, career, love, travel, new experiences. I don’t want to limit myself or put pressure on a timeline, but I do want to live better. I want to live with the same kind of passion, that same drive and hopefulness that made me who I am and made me a success in New York. I miss that beat in my step, that faith in my heart, that smart, sharp, kind, enthusiastic spirit that made me feel unstoppable.

And to get that firecracker Tigar back, I need to let go of some very small and very big things that are holding me back or keeping me down. These aren’t quite resolutions – just a little guide to help me along the new journey of 2014. Because really, with some of these out-of-the-way, my resolution to be happy again, might just be a reality.

In no particular order, here are 14 things I’m giving up in 2014:

1- Duck Face
Guilty as charged: if you stalk my Instagram, you’ll see so many duck face examples, it’s quite embarrassing. Sure, it can be cute. If you’re, like, 15, not, ya know, 25.

2- Investing in People Who Don’t Invest in Me
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as an adult is that friendships change. We all expect relationships to be difficult, life-changing experiences, but friendships are that way too. Even if you’ve been friends for years or just a short period of time, if someone isn’t making your life better by being in it, then get them out. People who are worth your time, will make time to invest in you.

3- Biting My Tongue
Maybe it’s my recently damped self-confidence or just the anxiety of saying the wrong thing, but in my life and in my career, I’ve had a tendency to not say what I really think. But this year, it’s time to lean in. I can’t move up – or move forward – by being silent.

4- Hitting Snooze
I desperately want to be a morning runner but snuggling in bed with Lucy is so much nicer than a 6:30 a.m. wake up call. But think of all the time I’d have to do things post-work if I got that 3-5 miler finished before my morning coffee!

5- Having Another Drink When I Don’t Want One
Sure, Saturday nights are great for having a bit too much. But a random Wednesday? With a guy I know I will never, ever want to go out with again? Forget saving feelings or following the crowd, my liver demands better. And I’d rather have less of those paralyzing hangovers post-25.

6- Judging People For Their Choices
I try my very best to be understanding and considerate, but it’s human nature to raise an eyebrow when a friend (or even a stranger) does something that isn’t quite the route you’d take in the same situation. You can’t change people, you can only be honest and caring, and thus, changing yourself. We’re each climbing our own hill and we’ll all get to the top in our own way.

7- Forgetting to Dream
I put in the hard work to get to New York and once I landed in my little apartment with my big NBC job and my big, popular blog, I sat down. It’s time to get up. I’m not finished yet – I’m merely getting started.

8- Buying Lunch Every Day
I work in Chelsea Market. For New Yorkers, I need not say more. For everyone else: imagine every delicious, decadent, expensive food you could ever imagine – from lobster to truffle tacos – a few steps away from you every. single. day. I could save so much more money (and travel so much more often) if I could plan ahead better.

9- Keeping Up My Routine
I’m a Virgo, and I love, love, love plans. I’m often the person sending out a group e-mail, trying to get my friends on-board to a new idea. But I go back to the same restaurants. I do basically the same thing every weekend. Not anymore though: I already signed up for Italian lessons and philosophy (yes, philosophy!) lessons. Time to switch it up.

10- Using the Word “Should”
It’s a dangerous word, that one. And it creeps it’s way into every worry I have: I should make more money. I should be thinner. I should have a boyfriend by now. I should live alone at this point in my life. I should save this extra $100. I should be more responsible. The only should I’ll say this year is: I should be me, exactly how I am today.

11- Getting Angry Over Things I Can’t Control
Like a long line at Starbucks. Or train delays. Or friends bailing at the last second. Or a guy with an attitude problem. Or people who don’t agree with me. Or the fact I’ll never be a size two (this girl has hips for miles). If I can find peace in every moment, I can find peace in every outcome.

12- Mentioning the Mr’s + Relying On Tinder
I’ve wasted far too much space (in my heart and on this blog) on the Mr’s I used to love. It’s time to let go of what was so I can find what will be. The archives will always be there. On the other hand, I can’t just rely on a dating app that’s basically “hot or not” to provide me with quality dating material. Bye, bye iTunes Store dating. Hello, just getting out of the apartment and into life.

13- Focusing on What’s Hard Instead of What’s Good
If everything was smooth sailing and easy, then would I appreciate the life I’ve built? If I never had to say good-bye to a friend because they moved on their own or because they were forced? If I never had my heart-broken or my dreams crushed? If I never cried out of frustration or desperation? If I never heard really bad, scary news? Life will always have it’s hard parts, but it’s never without goodness. I just have to breathe enough to feel it.

14- Being Afraid To Do It Alone
My friends won’t always want to volunteer at the soup kitchen with me. Or go to that new pub around the corner. Or sign up for a pizza making class or join a running group. But instead of dwelling in the fear of going alone, I choose to dwell in the possibility that something really amazing can come from taking a leap of faith. After all, that’s what I used to do every single day before I developed my life here.

Surely, I can do it again. Surely, I can do it with even more courage. Surely, I can open my heart to the New Year, and the new me, that’s waiting in 2014.

The Expired Metro Card

Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall…I repeated, watching my silver high heels cascade down the subway stairs. Logically, I knew the rest of my body was with me, too – but my New Year’s champagne intake made it difficult to actually feel it. One of my dear best friends J, who kindly invited me out with her and her boyfriend D, grabbed my arm and together we finally made it into the tunnel below.

Of all the nights in New York — there are really only two that it’s a better idea to take the train than to attempt to get a cab: Halloween and New Year’s. Though you may be wearing a dress that has little to it and heels higher than appropriate to ring in a new beginning — those assets won’t get you a cabbie unless you have some magical stroke of fate. We weren’t that lucky, so we braved the great underground at Union Square, along with hundreds of others.

In the hectic maze, I realized that on 01/01/13, my subway passed expired, and I needed to buy a ride to get me home. Just a few more steps and your toes will stop pinching. You can do it, you can do it! I encouraged myself as I wobbled over carefully, wondering if anyone else could detect my buzz or if they were equally intoxicated and uninterested in the drinkers around them.

As J and D waited, I went through the clicks on the screen, something I have memorized after buying subway cards for the past 34 months (wow!), to receive my golden ticket uptown. The pass flew out — and though it looked totally different than it normally does — I accepted and went with it. Within an hour, I was pushing the button to the 7th floor, excited to see my fluffy white bed and fluffy white dog.

The next morning, after some much-needed coffee and sleep, I took Lucy to the puppy park to get some energy out (and to feel less guilty for leaving her alone for so many hours). As I watched her spin around with the other pups and the cute couples who always hang out at the dog runs, holding hands and watching their “child” frolic, I reached into my coat pocket to find my expired subway pass.

Once the New Year came, this sucker wouldn’t grant me new rides or travels. It wouldn’t get me anywhere at all actually. And though looking up at the guy who was now placing his hands over his girlfriend’s ears to keep them warm, I thought about the love I miss having. And I considered the New Year as my new subway card — valid in 2013 to get me anywhere I wish to go. But that old one in my hand? It doesn’t work this year and it no longer can give me access to memory lane.

I can’t go down the “what if” trail that only leads to anxiety and making phone calls or returning text messages I really shouldn’t. I won’t even entertain the idea that the best love is behind me or that the intimacy I once shared with certain someones isn’t possible again. I won’t let thoughts of what I once had or the future I once envisioned keep me warm at night when my bed is just a little too cold for my tough skin. I won’t believe that I’m destined to wear these single shoes forever — but while I have them.. I better rock them.

Though I spent the New Year with couples and gladly took pictures of their New Year’s kiss instead of having one of my own, another single gal and I toasted to each other and smiled. And it was a genuine one — I’m happy with where I am. I feel the most beautiful, the most in shape, I’ve ever been. I’m fulfilled by things outside of relationships, and though everyone could probably use a little more loving, I don’t find myself aching too badly.

That being said, I spent a good portion of 2012 really working to get over Mr. Possibility. Though for half of it, he was overseas, he continually sent emails. Flowers. Macaroons from France. Paintings from Prague. Gifts and tokens of admiration — making sure he had a spot in the back of my mind, a sore spot on my heart, some kind of hold on me, even though he wasn’t  and isn’t ready to be anything in my life but a bittersweet, no-strings-attached memory. And while I really hate to admit it, I loved the attention. I loved knowing that some man did care about or miss me — even if I know he’s not right for me. So, before 2013 got here, I took all the steps to leave him in 2012 where he belonged. I cut off all communication and asked him (nicely) to do the same — and though I received a New Year’s text I didn’t respond to, I hope he’ll listen. I hope he’ll love me enough to let me go.

Because I don’t want to live in memory lane or with fear that I’ll never find someone to be in love with. I don’t need a place in yesterday or in the days I’ve already had. I don’t need to know what comes next because it’ll get here all on its own without help from me — but I know what’s in my past. And I know it needs to stay there — where I can learn from it, where I can grow from it, where I can move on from it. So that my bright shining future that I know in my heart-of-hearts is waiting for me in 2013 — can actually get going. Once the anchor is up — the sails will just fly out of the harbor, right?

Bye, bye, I said to that expired metro as I threw it in the trash. Lucy looked up at me with a big puppy grin that still makes me melt. Alright Lucy girl, let’s go! And without the old pass — and heavy past — the path and the year ahead somehow seem a little easier (and much more inviting) to trek.

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