On New York, and on life
My thoughts and reflections after a whirlwind ten weeks
After ten weeks in this city, I have a lot to reflect and think about on my last day before I embark on my next journey. This post has no clear theme other than what’s been going on my head. Thoughts about New York, about being lost, about feeling useless, about feeling useful, about adventures, about learning, about healing, about loving, about everything and about nothing. Hope you enjoy the thought ramble :)
On New York
I came into the city determined to hate it. What happened was I fell in love with it. Always something new to do. Always someone new to meet. Always something new to eat. I can’t wait to come back because I’ve barely scratched the surface. Preferably with a little more money. Damn, this city is expensive.
On being lost
The last two days, I’ve had an overwhelming feeling of being lost. While I know where my next step takes me (LA), I don’t know where my next life step is. There’s no degree of certainty. No degree of structure. No guidebook on how to do life. But maybe that’s the point.
I’m working through how to manage the ambiguity. That was one of the points of my gap year: to be more comfortable with uncertainty. My conclusion is there’s nothing wrong with being lost.
Who actually told us that feeling lost is bad, and that we actually have to have everything figured out?
I’m trying to remember there’s no right or wrong path to doing life. And that a lot of what I’ll do won’t make sense to a lot of people. I’ll have a lot of people who disagree with me. That’s okay. The only people’s judgment who I should care about is mine and the ones who’s opinions I trust.
I’ll make some stupid decisions along the way. Might totally blow up on my face. But at least I know I’m having fun.
As long as that statement is true, I can ride through the lost.
On being open-minded
In reflection, I wish I didn’t go into my internship with the determination to not like it. Because that’s exactly what happened. I was so upset, hateful, and closed off, that I didn’t let myself experience what the experience could have been.
I wasn’t an open slate that wanted to be molded. I was the molded vase that already hardened.
That’ll change going forward. I realize that I won’t always like every single task I’m doing. But that doesn’t mean the experience can’t be valuable, a learning experience or something I can make my own.
Life is short. I don’t want to be stuck being “the girl with so much potential”. I want to be “the girl that fulfilled all her potential”, “the girl that did”, “the girl that was kind”, “the girl that gave”, and “the girl who wasn’t afraid”.
I want to wake up everyday and know that I’m doing everything I want to, not just think about what I want to do.
On healing and giving myself a break
When you’re surrounded by big dreams and big people, it’s easy to feel like you’re not enough and to burn yourself out from trying to keep up. One of the reasons for taking a gap year was to let myself heal from all the pressure I put on myself since first grade.
I’ve called my mother crying on the phone before because all the stress got to me. She gave me the permission I needed to quit the clubs that I didn’t want to do. She told me to drop the class that I clearly was struggling with. She reminded me that nobody cares if I did either of these things.
Walking away isn’t a sign of weakness. Nor should it be touted as quitting and the stigma attached to it. Sometimes, you don’t need to tough it out at the expense of your mental health. Sometimes, you just need to breathe.
I can change the world a little later. I need to take care of myself first.
I remind myself that I have nothing to prove. I have no one I need to impress. And I don’t need to ask someone to stop doing the things that are making me unhappy. I’m in the process of giving myself permission instead of seeking it out.
The caveat is it’s a balance. As are most things in life. I’m just trying to find what battles I need to fight and what battles I need to walk away from.
On a lack of passion or life purpose
I never really had a passion nor a life purpose. There isn’t that one thing that gets me up every morning. This was the curse of my innate curiosity for everything. This lack of passion felt wrong.
I caught up with one of my mentors in New York and he said some people don’t have a passion and that’s okay. People are always changing. People are dynamic. You won’t like today what you liked yesterday.
Instead, he suggested finding good enough.
Find that one thing that is good enough, that will keep you interested for a certain period of time, put your head down and do it, and after that time is over, see if you want to move or stay.
The idea above seemed to be a better approach to life for me than trying to find “the one passion”. It didn’t limit my scope for learning. It allowed me to be open to all sorts of experiences and opportunities. And it didn’t make me feel existential all the freaking time because I hadn’t figured out my passion yet. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. Who cares?
As for life purpose, I always thought it should be that one thing you wanted to do. Fix global warming. Eradicate world hunger. Abolish human trafficking. Extend human life. Again, as a result of my curiosity, there were a lot of things I wanted to do, and I didn’t want to limit myself to the world of opportunities.
Funny enough, Buzzfeed helped me find a purpose that I resonated with (don’t judge).
Live your life with as much enthusiasm so other people can benefit from it.
In other words, I’m just going to keep having fun, share my love, and continue being a crazy badass. This purpose just lets me be and doesn’t stop me from changing the world in the million and one ways I want to.
And here’s a little secret. Every time one of you message me with support, appreciation, or wanting to do what I’m doing, you push me further to live out a crazy life. You give me more enthusiasm.
On love and vulnerability
Despite being a very affectionate and caring person, I struggle with vulnerability and loving. I would probably go as far as saying I hate it.
That was until I met one of my new friends. He was easily one of the kindest, warmest people I’ve ever met. If you know me personally, I tend to use terms of endearment very easily. That’s just me.
My friend commented that, “seeing how comfortable you are with using terms of endearment makes me really happy and encourages me to use them more…and knowing you inspires me to love more.”
But wait, I don’t love.
Love is that really icky, extreme thing that’s ridiculously all consuming. My new friend taught me that love doesn’t have to be that. It can be light. It can be a state of being. It can be simple. He pointed out to me that my positive aura and ability to connect with people is how I love. Never thought about it like that.
Vulnerability. I explained to him that it’s something I box away because I don’t like letting people in. It makes me uncomfortable when someone knows me as well as I know myself. Especially if it’s not on my own terms.
As a result, I struggle opening up in relationships. I keep four cement walls up. Along with a barbed wire fence. And a line of tanks for good measure.
My friend laughed. His suggestion was instead of keeping the box behind an entire army, just bring it to the same room. It doesn’t need to be open, but just there.
He said there’s too much good in me to not share with the world.
Okay, maybe I’ll bring down two cement walls. And remove a few of the fences.
New York has been great for my sense of adventure. I adopted a mentality of less thinking and more doing. Four nights out of seven in the week, I was usually out doing something, meeting new people, and trying out a different flavor of NY.
Sometimes, it worked great!
I’ve met with strangers and explored the parks, ate at new restaurants, seen beautiful sights, had enlightening conversations, learned more about myself and why I believe the things I believe, and why someone else believes the things they believe.
Sometimes, it wasn’t so great.
I’ve bumped into a few certified crazies. Didn’t know how to fully handle invasive people that would call every night. Shocked to hear such open, sexist conversation in my face. Couldn’t believe I had to explain what explicit consent was to a grown man.
If I didn’t have my sense of adventure, I could have avoided the bad. But then, I never would’ve experienced the amazing good.
You need both to give yourself a sense of appreciation. Luckily, the good majorly outweighed the bad.
On not going back to finance
Well if we’re being serious, this shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. But it was never because of the people or the environment. They were amazing. And I definitely plan on staying in touch with many of the folks I met.
It came down to a fundamental question that many of the senior speakers had us ask:
“Is the first thing you want to do in the morning check the markets? Is it read WSJ? If you don’t have a passion for this, don’t do this. You’re going to hate yourself. Don’t do that to yourself.”
My answer was always no. I tried to find other ways to make it work, but what’s the point of trying to fit a square plug into a round hole?
Probably the last validation I needed of my choice occurred on my last day. I went to say goodbye to one of my favorite traders. His parting words to me were,
“Samanee. You’re one of those exceptional people. You have a spirit. Don’t ever lose it. You can get the offer and you can do US banks. But you have it in you to do more than this.”
Sigh. Going to miss those folks.
On making choices that don’t make sense and don’t get support
Telling my parents that I wasn’t going back to finance and that I cancelled a private equity interview sounded something very close to cricket sounds at the other end of the phone.
I understood why they weren’t the happiest. I’m walking away from “the tried and true path” to a path that’s not even been created yet. Dealing with any sense of ambiguity is difficult, especially as a parent who only wants what’s best for their child.
In those moments, I have to hold on to my why.
I know what I want which is not an ordinary life. I have a rough idea of how I’m going to get there and it’s not by taking a traditional path when I have the wiggle room to be a little more risky. But I also realize the consequences of taking this route which tends to be a lot more push back.
Let’s just say I’m very delusional. I believe that I’m the exception. And I like living in the clouds; the view is so much better from up here.
It’s these beliefs that allow me to keep going and push back on the push backers. I got one year for life to knock me back down to reality. Until then, my head will firmly be in the clouds.
And as I remind my parents, what’s the worse that can happen? I go through an entire year and I will have learned a lot, meet some great people, and will come back to a college I love, full of people I love more.
More so, I will have figured out if I was right or they were.
If I was right, then I will have successfully started my great big adventure.
If they were right, I’ll never have the regret of wondering, “What if”.
On final thoughts
Getting a full day to do nothing but think has been eye opening. I’ve been so go-go-go that I never had time to fully digest and reflect upon my experiences. While self-reflection is somewhat painful (cause boy do I have a lot of thoughts), it’s always valuable to see how far I’ve come from where I started and where do I want to continue going.
Leaving this city, I’ve gathered a greater sense of myself and my capabilities, I’ve learned why meeting people is always a great experience, I’ve learned the value of staying more open-minded, and I’ve checked a box off my list of potential career paths.
It’s been a great ten weeks New York. Until next time :)