If I could have bottled up that moment, I would have.
I was sitting alone, in Lincoln Center, watching the sun set and tourists jog up and down the stairs in front of the New York City Ballet. I rarely cry in public, and [very] rarely do I publicly admit to crying at all, but boy — the tears were flowin’ — steady as the summer sun. Just, flowin’.
I thought about where I was sitting a year ago — bright-eyed, ambitious, excited, and encouraged to start a new life. A life apart from anything I had ever known. A life that would both build me up and tear my heart down in places I’d soon figure out.
I graduated, like many I’m sure, with the hope that things would somehow just fall into place. Life would happen. Quickly, quietly, and without much drama. Because that’s me. I don’t do drama.
And for the first few months, that’s what happened. My job happened. A job I’d been dreaming about since I was a high school freshman. An apartment [by grace and the best luck on the face of the planet] happened. A neighborhood happened. Community started to happen. Friends happened. It was weird, but yet, that’s what I wanted.
Things to happen.
And over the course of a year, I’m so grateful for those things that happened. And the tiny moments and snapshots you’ve probably seen on social media, full of joy and laughter and success and friendship and love and self-exploration. I think [and I could be wrong], but it seems like I’ve learned more over the course of this year, than I have over the previous twenty.
But I’ll also tell you something else. Something else that started to sink in when life started catching up with me. And I wasn’t just a recent grad anymore. And I had time to process. And grieve. And celebrate. And cry. Beautiful, beautiful tears. Tears that would spark memories and sadness and longing and gratitude and so much more. Something that the adrenaline of “figuring it all out” really prevented me from seeing and understanding until now.
Those things…. those tiny snapshots… are part of a huge story. And the story isn’t all rainbows and beautiful sunrises and sunsets [because yes, I am obsessed with those] and ice cream cones with sprinkles and smiling faces and encounters with celebrities [because I have a lot of those too]. There is also some tough stuff. Some stuff no one told me about what happened the year after graduation. The stuff that should probably be included in some class they require to graduate. [Can I teach it?]
So no one told you that when you move to a new city, you have to start from scratch? New friends, new social customs, a new “normal,” everything new? That you’d start to drift apart from some, closer to others, talk on the phone with friends you’d only see over the holidays [if you were lucky and schedules aligned], watch your friends and family move in a million different directions, and feel far from it all?
No, no one ever told me that.
Really? No one ever told you that you’d have to budget? And be careful with your money? And think about saving and investing and insurance and giving and trying, in the end, to keep it all balanced and take good care of yourself, too?
No, no one ever told me that.
Hmmm. And no one ever told you that you’d have to make decisions on your own? Things as simple as what you’re having to eat for dinner that night [no, not Raisin Bran like you had for breakfast], and as complex as planning your first real “vacation?”
No, no one told me that either. I hate making decisions.
That’s odd. And no one ever told you that you have to fake it for a while? Fake that you know what’s what, that you understand everything you’re supposed to [and Google when you don’t], and that you’re a lot more important [in business] than you think you are? Fake it until you finally believe, from the bottom of your heart that you are that important? That you do know the things you’re expected to? That your company, or whoever it was, hired you [and only you] for a reason? They believed in you?
They saw that something special that I see in you, too.
No, I definitely didn’t hear that.
And you’re sure no one told you that you’d fall on your face a few times? You’d mess up? Make mistakes? Big ones? That you’d walk away feeling dumb, but the next day laugh about it over happy hour? That you’d think you were the only person in the entire world to make that mistake, when it fact, everyone has done the exact same thing? Maybe even worse?
Nope, no one told me.
Well guess what, my friend, I have good news for you.
Now you know.
You know those things. And some of those things you learned the hard way. And some of those things you’re still learning. It’s tough to make new friends. So give yourself a little grace. Give yourself time. Plenty, plenty of time. I know life moves fast here. Quicker it seems than anywhere else on Earth [believe me, it’s true, I’m convinced the hours and minutes really are shorter here].
And know that you might be in a different spot and place in life than your friends and family and colleagues. And that it’s ok. You might be watching them and wishing for a moment you were right there with them. Or doing the exact same thing. But remember that it’s ok to want different things. To have different perspectives and goals and timelines. It doesn’t make you any less of a friend. Any less of a daughter. Because you’re not them… You’re you.
And only you.
Pretty darn special and smart and beautiful and talented, you.
And if I were you, just knowing that would make me smile.
So cry, grieve because life is different and hard and challenging, and worth a good cry. And then celebrate what it’s become. And better yet, what it’s becoming. Because there’s something special in store for you. I just feel it.