6 things I learned from my year in SF

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1. Be vulnerable. I was able to make some really good relationships in just a year by being vulnerable, by being my authentic self. I also was able to open up to people in my life who I never quite felt comfortable being vulnerable with. I was able to say “I need you” and “it would mean a lot to me if you [fill in the blank].” These words used to be so hard for me. It used to be easier to just take care of myself and not put myself out there. But I realized that I do need people, and that I have to tell them or they simply won’t know. I have to be vulnerable to develop deeper relationships.

2. It’s ok to slow down. This does not equate with lack of ambition or laziness. It’s healthy to slow down and take care of yourself. Trust me. Everyone around you agrees.

3. Let others plan. I used to be the planner. I spent a year essentially saying “just tell me where to be, and I’ll be there.” This goes for work happy hours and team off sites as well as outings with friends. I stopped planning everything and let go of that control and enjoyed other peoples’ plans. It was invigorating and reduced stress greatly.

4. Be realistic with what my heart, head and body can handle. Ok I’m still working on this one, but I’ve gotten better at being more realistic at what I can take on and be successful at — at work and play. And I’m still working on being comfortable with saying no. No, I cannot take on that project. No, I cannot schedule another fun thing into my week because I actually need sleep. No, I cannot chat on the phone because I’m tired. No. And guess what? I’m still me! The same person I was before I said no, but stronger (and probably nicer because I’m more rested.)

5. Stop and look around. I spent a lot of time merely observing my surrounding. Whether on my hour-long commute on the 101 from SF to MPK, or on epic walks around the city, or sitting on Chrissy Field beach or in Washington Park. Just. Looking. Around. Enjoying the scenery. It’s amazing how many people go through life not really seeing what’s around them. It’s quite grounding.

6. Be present. Part A. Stop thinking about the future and the past and think about right now. I’m pretty good at this one. It’s a gift. But…Part B. I’m lucky my marriage lasted the distance. A year is a long time to be apart from your partner. I understand why some don’t make it. It’s hard. And it’s even harder getting back together and relearning each other. And it’s not just about the way you were before. You can change a lot in a year, so now you have to relearn being together and assess if you still even like each other. It’s tough! You have to be present- the new you, the new them, and the new now. Now. You have to be present and not worry about tomorrow or regret the past. You have to appreciate each other and what you have together. And not get caught up in the stupid shit that can break you down. You also have to be present for your partner- what are they going through right now? What do they need right now? Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Now. It’s always about right now.

I loved my year in SF. I don’t think I’ll ever have anything like this again in my life. I’ve grown and reflected and have gotten to a place of acceptance- for myself and people around me. Even if I return, I’ll be a different person, with different goals and desires. I appreciate all I’ve been through this year, and I have no regrets, as hard as it was. My task now will be to take these lessons with me to NY and to not lose sight of them. Perhaps this piece will help me- I can look back anytime and remember and get back to this new me.

Now here I am, one week into NY, and you know what? I like my life. I like me. I’m smiling. I’m happy. Maybe it is true that it’s not where but who you are, what you think, who you’re with, that really matters. I’m with me. Finally I can say this in my life. It’s actually not about those around me…its me I’m happy with. Like really, truly happy. Acceptance. I accept me and my flaws and the good and bad and ugly things. I’m ok with imperfection. I’m fine with my flaws. I’m a good person contributing good to this world for whatever short time I’m here. And that makes me feel good. I may not do the things you do or care about the things you care about. But I’m doing good things in a flawed world. My flawed self is doing what I can to make this world hopefully a tiny bit better than when I arrived. And you know what? If I don’t leave it better, I at least know I tried. I’m not consuming and taking and ripping the ground apart for my selfish needs. I’m seeking places where I can make an impact, do some good, while still enjoying my short little life. Who knows what tomorrow brings? Right?

Learn more about me and my work: http://www.romanocog.com/.

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