Pinch Me: Looking Back to Look Forward

You know what the best feeling is? Getting a much needed reality check in which you realize you’re a completely different person from who you were five years ago, three years ago, even one year ago. I don’t know about you but sometimes I get antsy and caught all up in my present day life thinking, you know, I’m not doing enough. Am I really on track to accomplishing all I want to accomplish by 30? Am I successful? Am I where I want to be? Then suddenly I get a nice reality check that puts it all into perspective. First of all, no one has it together by 30. I don’t care who you are – late twenties and early thirties still seem like growing up time to me. In fact, maybe we keep growing up forever? Maybe we’re never actually adults, how about that? I had a nice reality check last night that reminded me of where I was 5 years ago and for the sake of reflection slash  nice dose of humility, here’s a snapshot. Five years ago to the date I was:

  • UCSC grada month into living in Santa Barbara, CA
  • living with my boyfriend I had met in Brazil who was from So-Cal (hence the move)
  • working at Citrix Online as an assistant in the purchasing department, not even in Santa Barbara but in a part of town called Goleta across the way from UCSB
  • commuting 2o minutes to work each day on the freeway
  • working in a cubicle amid hundreds of other people, taking lunch breaks to chain restaurants in strip malls or escaping to the wild preserve by hiking down the freeway to walk around, making phone calls to all my friends in the Bay I missed so much
  • joining Rotary Club in SB because I was so lonely and yearned for connecting with people I could relate to and share interests with
  • considering getting an evening cocktail waitress job at Wildcat (locally coined the Shitty Kitty, seriously the name speaks for itself) because it would be a fun way to meet people and occupy my time while my boyfriend worked at a neighboring bar
  • planning lots of visits to SF and LA where I was comforted by diversity, culture and familiar city sights and sounds

Needless to say I didn’t stay in Santa Barbara for much longer. I was there for about 6 months total, during which time I actually did make some great friends while also acquiring some valuable work experience. Mostly I finally got courage to LA In and Out, per usualmake a move for myself, once and for all. At first I made a list of all the grad schools I wanted to go to – thinking I’d apply ASAP for a MPP or MPA since I was no longer interested in pursuing law. To my surprise all the schools with my desired program were in NYC with the exception of one in Chicago (sorry Windy City, wasn’t feeling it).

I thought, maybe I should move to NYC first to see if I like it before going ahead and applying to school. So I gave myself a month to sublease my apartment, bought a one way flight to NYC and started hustling to get a job and apartment for when I’d touch down December 1st, 2010. And everything worked out better than I could have possibly planned or imagined. There’s no way I would have believed you if five years ago you told me my life would look like it does today. I don’t regret anything that’s happened along the way, its all, for better or for worse, experience that’s made me more into the person I am supposed to be. But I have to remember where I came from, even just a few years ago – first touching down in NYC with no idea what was in store for me. When I get caught up in the here and now wondering if anything is off since I don’t yet have my own multi-million dollar company, haven’t been on the cover of any magazines and haven’t yet invented a product or idea that has single handedly changed the entire world, I can remember to take it easy. No one has saved the world over night. These things take time and work, and the work isn’t always obvious. And from what I can tell so far, the hardest work of all usually starts within.

SF

You Do You, I’ll Be Me

Scratch that trusty old to-do list. In fact, tear it up and try this instead.

Ever heard of a to-be list? Consider it an exercise in changing your mindset. I don’t know about you but tasking myself with limitless to-dos is so deeply engrained I rarely notice I do it all the time–even subconsciously.

Change the way you view yourself and what you’re truly capable of. Put your dreams down on paper, then visualize them coming true. Dreams are terrifying, especially when you have really big ones.

 TBTI took a stab at writing my first to-be list and here’s what I came up with:

  • Help people always
  • Create, lead and develop a business built upon providing service to those in need
  • Make my family and friends proud
  • Be honest
  • Always tell the truth
  • Feel like I am doing what I am meant to do
  • Present a TED Talk
  • Become an acclaimed artist/writer with respected opinions and insights
  • Be a community leader
  • Be the tour guide host for an epic family vacation somewhere magical
  • Be an explorer of the world
  • Become a fluent speaker of French and Arabic
  • Become a scuba diver
  • Be a surfer in Indonesia
  • Become a familiar traveler through Latin America
  • Become a practitioner of meditation in Tibet and India
  • Be a marathon runner, at least in NYC and SF

I instinctively first wrote many of the above as to-dos, no matter how hard I tried to explain in “be” or “become” terms. Try it, you might surprise yourself!