In Another Town

Who are you?

That was the question that was asked to me for my most recent job interview. “Make a 15 minute presentation that answers the question, ‘Who are you? Personally and professionally?'”

Well, damn. How do I answer that? I know who I am, or so I thought, but I think like many of us, I just get so wrapped up in the day to day life, that I often forget to sit and reflect on who I am as a person.

As many of you know, this past week I was doing a bit of travelling. I had an interview at NYU, but made a pit stop in Albany to visit some family. So within the past weekend, I was in New York, Albany, and now Buffalo. And it was bizarre. I felt as if I was living three separate, very different lives.

In New York, I felt like the person I wanted to be. I was dressed to the nines in my stylish new suit,  I was wearing my favorite pair of dress shoes, I was making my way up and downtown via subway and cab, and meeting so many incredible people. All in the span of one overnight trip.

In Albany, at home, I always find myself in this strange role. Does anyone else feel that way? Even though I’m 25 years old, and basically a full adult, I still find myself molding into my old high school self.

And then now, here I am…back in Buffalo, writing this blog post. Today is great – I’m surrounded by friends “doing work” [hey, friends], but in general, I’m not the most thrilled to be back. There are only a few months left, and I will definitely miss some people here, but especially after such an amazing trip to New York, I’m kind of just ready to be there.

But that got me thinking.

In general, I used to think that no matter what setting, I was just myself. The same Michael, regardless of the situation or the people I was around. But I’ve been realizing lately that I am different…not necessarily around different people, but definitely in other places.

At home, I’m happy. It’s good to be home. But my role is very different. In Buffalo, it’s cool…but it’s not the place for me, and my happiness level has plateaued here. And then, visiting a completely new city in hopes of potentially moving there, I realized I am a completely different person. I felt complete in a way. I had the time to be with really good friends that I missed a whole lot, while also feeling fulfilled in (hopefully) doing really well in the interview. I just felt that, for the first time, I was living the life that I wanted. This potential job would be amazing, having a consistent group of friends and social supports would also be great, and on top of it all, I was meeting so many new people that I would love to get to know even more.

In another town, I am the same person. In another town, I felt completely different.

“Maybe you just need a change of scenery,” some people have said. But I’m always torn by that. Do I really just need a change of scenery, or am I just running away from a life that I am not completely happy with, and haven’t necessarily put in the effort to make any better?

Who am I? That is a really great question. And through this visiting of other towns, I’ve learned a lot about myself, especially considering that this next step in particular will be choosing the next significant part of my life. I’ve learned that I am someone who needs social support in my life. AKA, friends. I can’t move to another new place where I don’t know anybody and hope for the best. I’ve learned that my next job is important, but it’s not the most important thing. And maybe most importantly, I’ve learned that no matter where I go, I am still myself.

So, regardless the all the other towns, who are you?

 

 

In which I relate to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

I can say, with an estimated guess, that most people who read this blog are loyal Facebook friends. With that said, most of you reading this probably know that I spent the past ten days in Europe. And for those of you that didn’t know or aren’t friends with me on Facebook, I spent the last ten days in Europe!!

And as much as I want to blog all about my trip, I have to stay true to the twentysomething theme of this particular blog. However, there was one day in particular that really stuck out to me. Docking in Livorno, Italy, I knew we had a full day ahead. We were scheduled for a driving tour through Pisa and Florence, seeing some of Italy’s biggest and most famous monuments. Two in particular were the Statue of David and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Since some of you might have clicked this link just to see some beautiful pictures of the trip, here you go!

But in my journal that night (yes, I kept a travel journal), I found an interesting comparison between these two monuments. I wrote: “The Tower of Pisa is not famous because it’s the most beautiful, most adored, or even biggest monument in Italy. It’s famous because it leans—because it’s unique. Because it does something that no other building is known for. It makes me wonder…shouldn’t it be like that for all people? For me? …especially in comparison to the Statue of David, which is known for being the best, most beautiful sculpture from the very best artist, Michelangelo.”

I continued: “Are you more of a Statue of David? Or the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Not everyone can be the Statue of David, and to be honest, as great as that would be, it’s a lot of pressure to uphold such a high standard all the time! The Tower of Pisa is much more relatable, anyway. Everyone leans a bit off course, sometimes. Goes a bit off track from the original plan.”

And in this journal entry/blog post, I confess that on my trip to Europe, I found myself relating with an inanimate leaning building. Awesome.

It makes sense though, doesn’t it? Think about it. If I think about all the people that I know, there is only a very small handful of people that can equate to the Statue of David, metaphorically. This one guy in particular, we met during college. He is absolutely gorgeous now—and was then, too. Perfect amount of scruff, tousled hair, built, literally a model traveling all over the world. We shared one kiss in the rain and I will never again forget that one moment with my own Statue of David.

The reality is, though, I idolized him more than anything else. The Statue of David is a perfect representation of man, literally known for being the most proportional marble statue in the history of the world, epitomizing this perfection. I wouldn’t want the pressure of that reputation, and I definitely wouldn’t want to be with someone who I saw in that way, because I would always feel inferior.

So, if we’re speaking in metaphorical Italian monuments, are you the Statue of David? Or are you the Tower of Pisa? The Tower may be leaning a bit, off the course from its original path, but still standing tall and proud. What’s interesting about the Tower of Pisa is that without its “past” of going off course and leaning to the side, it wouldn’t even be famous at all…just another building gracing the ground of Italy.

And fun fact about the Tower of Pisa: Italian architects, once they realized how much the Tower was leaning, decided to dig underneath the Tower a bit and pour in concrete underneath and all around. That way, it won’t lean over anymore, to the point of falling down and hitting the ground.

I have to say, I’m inspired by that building a bit. In addition to being famous for its complete uniqueness (as opposed to its perfection), it also has the ability to concrete itself and keep itself from falling over.

So, question of the day: Are you the Statue of David? Or the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Trick AND Treat: A Twentysomething Perspective

Being a twentysomething is all about gaining perspective. Granted, life in general is all about gaining perspective. As a thirty- and forty-something and beyond, I still hope to be gaining new perspectives because that means growth.

One perspective that has hit me particularly hard in the twentysomething phase is acknowledging the gray area. Or in other words, not everything is going to be in neat little packages. Life is rarely all black or all white…there is usually a little mix of both. Oftentimes, it is in this weird middle area that is undefined and a little bit messy. Undefined. Outside the box. And that is a difficult perspective to grapple with because we, as humans, like to fit everything into these neat little boxes. We categorize because it’s easy and makes us comfortable. Yet being comfortable doesn’t allow for growth.

Another part of acknowledging the gray area is realizing that there are always multiple perspectives: there are at least two sides to every story. Because of this, the word “or” has basically been removed from my vocabulary. Life is a spectrum of opposites and all the spaces in between. Happy or sad? Good or evil? Trick or treat? The reality is, the answer is probably a little bit of both, meeting somewhere in the middle. Most days, I’m mostly happy, mostly good. But I think there’s always a little in between, a little gray area.

In the spirit of yesterday’s Halloween holiday, being a twentysomething is no exception to this gray area rule. Being a twentysomething is not a matter of Trick or Treat. It really should be Trick and Treat. Because to be honest, it’s full of tricks, but it’s also full of treats.

Here are my top ten Trick and Treat twentysomething moments.

  1. Paying for laundry is definitely an inconvenience, but clean clothes are nice.
  2. Grocery shopping and cooking meals is time consuming, but having the choice to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, is incomparable.
  3. Having to work a full-time job is, no surprise, a lot of work. But the full-time paycheck is a nice incentive to keep going.
  4. Making friends as a twentysomething is more difficult, but the friends that you do have are some of the best yet. Quality over quantity.
  5. Being single can feel lonely, but there is no better time for self-discovery, exploration, and improving your sense of self-love and self-care.
  6. Having to take on new adult responsibilities can be overwhelming, but the new-found sense of independence is worth it.
  7. Figuring out who you are and who you want to be is one of the most complicated things you will ever think about and try to execute, but you have an incredible sense of self-worth after you re-work through your own identity and your own values.
  8. There seems to be little to no time for anything “fun,” but when you do have the time, it is the most glorious part of your day.
  9. There is no longer a “norm” for how to live your life, but the freedom to live your life however you want is extremely liberating.
  10. Although life can seem challenging at times, it will all come around. Some times are worse than others, but the gray area shows that no matter how tough it is, there is always a little spot of light just around the corner.

The important thing to keep in mind, especially when you’re in a rut, is that there is always an “and.” For example, I might be feeling really awful about something one day, but I need to keep in mind the “and.” The gray area. I might feel the tricks, but I also need to acknowledge the treats.

So what are your tricks? What are your treats? And how do you find the balance in between the two?