As a New Yorker, I go to the same five places every week. I have my deli where I get my coffee every morning, my brunch place I go every weekend, my spot for drinks I go to meet friends, my favorite dinner spot, and my favorite place to go for breakfast and meetings.
It is more than just a routine; it has become almost impossible to not go to these same places week in and week out. I have also found that I go into routines with other areas of my life -- patterns that cannot be broken, men that are usually broken and need fixing, situations where I keep making the same mistakes. I started realizing and analyzing these patterns when I started "checking in" places on a social media platform called Path. I realized I was going to the same place almost every single night, and I was talking about the same problems but with just different pieces to the puzzle.
I also started to recognize that I was not the only one who couldn't break patterns after a conversation I had with my roommate who is currently leaving NYC to move back to the South. In fact, it seems as if most of my friends are leaving NYC (I guess it's the time for the quarter-life "aha moment"), and my roommate told me she had a bucket list of places to visit and things to do in NYC during her last month of living here.
Just a few items on the list were visiting the Highline, going to the real Little Italy, and going to a Yankees game -- all of the activities you would choose to do while visiting NYC for the first time. Here is the catch, though: she has lived here for close to five years. I started thinking of all of the museums I had been to, the Broadway shows I had attended, and the experiences that made me fall in love with New York, and I realized most of these experiences came from when I was a child visiting the city. I had not done anything that took me outside my comfort zone in New York while living here. I have been traveling every weekend to get out of my comfort zone, not even recognizing that I don't need to travel to be able to do this. I need to be brave enough to face my life and decisions every day and push myself outside of my comfort zone in my day to day life.
If anyone read my piece on my experience at a healer/medium, I had a big epiphany after sorting through what the healer told me in regard to the way I was treating life and myself. I am in the way of myself. I have the power to make decisions that will affect not only my life but also others' lives. My dear friend gave me some advice recently; she said, "stop walking backwards into your future." I started to let this sink in and started thinking about my past three years in NYC. It has been a blur of parties, dinners, brunches, wine, amazing food, experiences and events. There were nights I remember rushing from event to event just so I could make time to see all the people I promised I would support. Now, at the age of 26, introspectively looking at where my life is now and where I want to go, I started to think: Am I living my life fully? Embracing all I can about NYC? Am I appreciating the people and the things that matter or am I letting the fast-paced life of a New Yorker and the day-to-day routines of my life distract me from what I really want?
I have a problem with saying yes to too much, giving myself up for everyone I care about and love. Another friend said to me recently, "The quality of your yesses depend on the quality of your nos." I started to realize that there has to be a point in your life or even your day where you stand up for what you want, whether that means removing yourself from situations you don't think are necessary or good for you, or saying no to too many events a night, you are making decisions and judgments that will better your life, even if others might not understand or agree with that.
I think it has become more and more difficult to "live for yourself" because we are so busy sharing what we are doing with everyone else and so busy wondering what everyone is constantly doing. This week, every news outlet and minifeed post commented on Facebook going public. There were articles scrutinizing this decision, people commenting that there are a lot better things to invest in, major companies removing their campaigns, and a whole lot of back and forth about whether this was the right decision. It made me really start to evaluate how much Facebook has changed the way people look at and share what they do and the decisions they make. People share with the world where they are at any given moment with check-ins, tags of people they were with and pictures. This obsession with posting about what you are doing, and thinking about what your ex -- or that guy you never want to see on your minifeed, or that girl you met at that one party (and still not sure if you really did meet her or if she just said that when Facebooking you) -- is doing has gotten in the way of just living. We are bombarded with so much information and feel the need to share so much information that it has almost replaced the opportunity to embrace ourselves, our lives and appreciate the world around us in the real world.
I think Facebook has changed the way we view our day-to-day experiences and what we invest our time in. We allow ourselves to be swept away by all of the sharing of what we are doing; we sometimes forget the value the experience. I started to think of this reality where so much of our time is invested in other people -- people I sometimes love or sometimes don't know, and sometimes don't want to know but have to -- and how little time I invest in myself. It also made me realize of the power of investing. What other investments can we make in our day-to-day lives that will not only positively impact us but also the world around us?
The first step is to invest in your own potential, start to live your life fully and invest in what makes you happy -- whether that is taking an hour a day to walk the streets of NYC or it is biking across the Brooklyn Bridge, it is your decision. Walk forward to your future. The second is to invest in your own future as well as others' potential to create a better future for all. My dear friend Becky Straw had an amazing event this week for her organization Adventure Project, "a nonprofit organization established to increase investments in positive social enterprises around the world to end poverty." Becky is the type of person that has dedicated her life into investing in others' potential, seeing that her time is best spent supporting others and helping them accomplish their dreams, which in turn will change their communities and the world.
I think its sometimes easy to invest in the tedious day-to-day lives of others around you, to never break out of your comfort zone, and to stay going to the same restaurants, putting yourself in the same situations that hurt you, making decisions that are for are right for others even if they might not be right for yourself. I am realizing now that there is a time to invest in potential -- your own potential and the potential of others who in turn will better the world -- and there are times to let go. Let go of the people in your life who are bringing you down and the fat in your life that is distracting you, and invest in yourself, your potential and embrace the world around you walking forwards into your future. Only when you do that can you start to see the potential in others, and always make time to walk the Highline, go to a Yankees game, and check out the real Little Italy.
Follow Amanda Slavin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ajslavin