I always hated it when people said things like, "just go with the flow" or "whatever happens, happens." In the past, I've graciously ignored it because after all, no one actually feels that way. We're more or less trying to control as much as we can, perhaps deluding ourselves into believing that our choices play a part in where we end up. I mean, that only seems fair, right?
New York City is a place of endless opportunity or utter failure; it really depends on how you look at it. I've arrived here on the scene quickly learning the basics; everyone here is thin, uncomfortable shoes will seriously ruin your day, and only the rich can take cabs everywhere. I remember telling my mother on the phone how I missed my college days and the constant encouragement/validation you'd get. She lovingly responded, "So you feel like a small fish, huh?" to which I said "No, Mom in New York City, I'm seaweed."
With my graduation not that far behind me, it appears I'm a walking cliché trying to figure out my next move. I wake up very early to go to a fantastic internship that I love, but am still waiting tables to pay what seems to be an only increasing amount of bills. I'm now in a place where literally everyone seems to be just as smart, attractive and hardworking as I am. This only makes it harder to shine here with jobs being so hard to find -- we know how the economy song and dance goes. Naturally I've been freaking out in spurts, wondering how I'm going to pull off this new life of mine and it's been sort of disheartening.
In the midst of all this pity-party-throwing, I had to go the dentist. I've masterfully been putting off a cleaning for over a year, and with my dental insurance probably on its way out soon, I knew it was now or never. In the parking lot I walked past the shiny BMW that I knew belonged to my dentist of years. I sat in the waiting room looking at the photos of all the amazing places around the world he had visited, and observed the number of patients around me in his seemingly booming practice. Now, don't get me wrong; I was never the type of girl to need tons of stuff. But I couldn't help but envy the fact that his life was in order. Just before I was about to kick myself for not going to school for medicine instead of journalism, I was called in.
Towards the end of my appointment, after prodding at my teeth, he was making small talk about what I've been up to. After joking about how I'm in that post college, pre-career limbo, I saw his eyes get wide. At first I couldn't recognize what I had said to get such a reaction out of him, but then it seemed all too obvious. Could it be that my dentist was envying me? Me, the girl who cashes in her coins for groceries?
"You could do anything you want now," He said. "There is nothing holding you back or tying you down. You're now in that stage of life you only appreciate once it's passed. So try to enjoy it."
I walked out of there feeling oddly lucky, but also trying to grasp the fact that the dentist is usually a place I avoid rather than walk away from feeling enlightened. But maybe he's right. Maybe not knowing where we're going isn't such a bad thing. Maybe going with the flow isn't annoying advice, but actually, a well-disguised privilege.
I know deep down that someday things will make more sense, and for the first time, I'm starting to appreciate the fact that nothing in my life right now really does. While I'm certain I'll never be someone who leaves everything in the hands of the universe, these days I'm trying to just enjoy where I am in the moment. Oh, and I didn't have any cavities, in case you were wondering.
With my new mindset, I type the last few click-clacks on my laptop to end my first article for the Huffington Post. In this little corner here, I'll be sharing all my experiences, whether it be wisdom received in a dentist chair, dating in this crazy city, or anything else I stumble upon. But should you find yourself feeling a bit lost, remember that you're not alone. Just think of me, your little wandering New York seaweed.