3 Decisions That Saved Me in New York

Some time ago, I had to dig myself out of a horribly scary 9-month unemployment streak. On a spring evening in 2009, I flew into New York City for the prospect of a job. I had 2 suitcases, a twenty dollar bill, some credit cards, and a high school diploma. I didn’t know a soul, except for the nice recruiter man who had promised me a job interview Monday morning.

This is a (sorta) cool story for a freshly sprung college grad in their twenties. But I wasn’t. I was a divorced, single woman with three teenagers, starting over. And pretty much desperate after a heart-wrenching divorce and no job prospects. But I had learned having a worst-case scenario liberates you.

I landed and was scared to the core. I felt like a tiny, half-lit ember floating in a literal ocean of human beings. I’ll tell you what saved me those first moments in New York: three decisions.


Even with the 9 million new imaginary friends I inherited (see below), it was ME that brought the magic to my own life. I was 100% responsible for making sure I got what I came for. This way, there was no wasted time blaming bogus job leads, bad weather, or unhelpful desk clerks.

“I am my own golden ticket” became my currency. It was a context to come from, not a belief I had to have about myself.

A “context to come from” is working capital that you can apply to any situation — whereas, a “belief” is like a building that has to be sold before you can move in. We tend to own beliefs like we own property. A context is a liquid asset: immediately available and free.

In this way, being your own golden ticket eclipses how strapped you may be at this given moment. Perhaps you can’t rub two nickels together. But you are an infinitely creative being and that eclipses everything: Economic slumps, circumstances, and pessimistic relatives.


Emily Dickinson said, If your nerve deny you, go above your nerve. And this is exactly what I intended to do as I circuited an aggressive number of networking meet-ups dotting the lower half of Manhattan. And let me tell you, I almost puked every evening getting dressed for these, as I was deeply self-conscious and introverted to the point of paralyzing social anxiety.

The antidote lied in making the unwavering and stubbornly quixotic decision that everyone was my ally and wanted the best for me. And I would give them my friendship back, which was a vital part of the inner-agreement, as, when requiring oneself to give something back, you must evangelically dig for the evidence and come up with something to present. In a benevolent twist of fate, I would come to meet my three very best friends, Jason, Jill, and John at these networking meet-ups. But before I ever had a real friend, I had everybody as my friend.

I wore the companion-colored glasses everywhere I went. Yes, even the streetside produce guy was a friend (he wanted to give me healthy fruit and veggies to fuel me). The cab driver. The Starbucks kid. The recruiter man…(none of the jobs he had lined up worked out)…but he and his wife took me to dinner. And right from that bar I was offered my first job by a stranger. I learned how to ask, and knock, and say yes, and speak in public, and ride the subway because everyone there was my friend.


My patchwork approach to solving problems had me circling the airport of my life. There are certain moments in one’s timeline where it becomes glaringly impossible to retreat to tired, old methods of coping. This is where bad ass broads come out of the shadows and take their life back. And this is what happened for me. I eliminated delay, fear, and stalling. I bypassed my own normal processes of decision making with radical action. I stopped emotionally voting on things that had already been decided. I untethered from transaction living and instead gave of myself judiciously, but without reserve, to the right causes. I grew allergic to drama and put myself in the company of other people who were causing great things in their lives with optimism and wholehearted engagement.

You transform your life when you rise above the clanging distractions of your circumstances and see them for what they are: invitations to catalyze the shit out of life.

You transform when you decide to take on the YOU that caused every circumstance showing up in your life…especially the ones that don’t look like your fault.

These three decisions are what paved the way for the most enormous change of tides, and what opened up the possibility of completely reinventing my life. If you are at a crossroads and need a supportive hand, I write to my inner circle about these issues, and I’d love for you to join us.

Originally published at stephaniestclaire.com.