Goodbye, Goldilocks

This post is part of Reverb10, a project that provides daily prompts in the month of December to help you reflect on the past year and set your intentions for the year ahead. 

Goldilocks and the search for the perfect porridge

Today’s prompt (from Victoria Klein):

What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

I’ve been like Goldilocks this year, trying on New York experiences and rituals until I find the ones that are just right. (If you’re new to this blog: I moved to New York a year ago, after 10 years in Washington, DC.)

As I navigated life in a new city, I found myself comparing every experience against some kind of external measure: how I’d expected New York to be; how things had been back home; how I wanted things to be, in Amanda’s Ideal World.

Measured against such rigorous and shifting criteria, New York often failed to satisfy me. It was definitely too hot (this summer was miserable), and certainly too cold (though buying what I call a sleeping bag coat made a huge difference). It was too loud, too crowded, too many smells. It didn’t feel inspiring enough. Don’t a lot of artists live here? Where’s my inspiration, goddammit?!

In the absence of inspiration, and peace, and quiet, I wondered: Why was I here?

Then, before the city could answer me, I’d start back in with my evaluations.

I remember when I was first promoted to the level of director at PBS. I was thrilled at the opportunity to be in charge of content strategy, but struggling to find the time for strategy on top of all my other work; this, by the way, was on day 2 in my new role. A colleague stopped by my office to say hi, and I unloaded my woes upon her. “Amanda,” she said. “Chill out. Don’t think about it so much. Just do your job, and the strategy will come.”

Right.

So after a year in New York, here’s what I’ve learned: When you make a big change, give it room to breathe. Romantic that I am, dramatic as I am, I expected moving to New York to feel like a Brand New Chapter. But moving to a new place doesn’t mean that every day of your life is about that place. And if you’re hyper vigilant, analyzing every new experience to figure out what it all means, then you’re always outside of the moment; and moments, of course, are where things happen.

So back up. Back off. Brush your teeth, read the mail, call a friend. Let the change marinate before you put it under the microscope.

Did I answer the question? Here’s the one thing I appreciated in 2010: getting to do this. Getting to make this move, to learn these lessons. Even in my lowest moments, I knew, deep in my bones, that these were important experiences…that I was growing. I appreciate GROWTH.

How do I show my gratitude?

Well…I’m still here, aren’t I?

Photo by Flickr user violscraper

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