Stop Seeking Security
I don't mean to come across as short or overly-direct. In fact, I'm talking to myself more than anything. I've given myself this advice time and time again, but I truly need to start listening to myself this time:
Libby, stop seeking security.
I've figured out why I love cities...I thrive when I am surrounded by discomfort, which starkly contrasts with what I am used to — I've grown up in a very comfortable environment. I want to be clear that I do not take this for granted; I'm very lucky to live where I live and how I live. I was born into a fortunate situation, as proven by the fact that I have access to the laptop I'm typing on right now and don't have to question whether or not I'll be fed dinner tonight. Anyhow, to get to the point of this post: I'm about to enter a phase of my life that's inherently more self-directed. I'm headed to college. I'll have more of a say in what I do daily, where I go daily, and who I interact with daily. Thus, I know that I won't feel as secure — I won't be leaning on the people I've known for years, or familiarly interacting with Donna, the cashier at my local Rite Aid, when buying shampoo and gum (of whom is no stranger to me), or going through the motions of my life feeling only semi-present. Inevitably, the blanketing newness will make me feel vulnerable. I'll be exploring new places, meeting new people, developing new relationships, and — for the first time ever strictly on my own — facing a completely untouched canvas, paintbrush in hand. For once, such paintbrush is mine and only mine. For once, I'll have complete control over the direction of the painting. For once, I'll get to choose not only the colors featured in the painting, but also the painting's composition, subject matter, and the final result overall.
...and all of this excites me immensely.
However, it also scares me. It scares me because I know myself pretty damn well and, in saying that, I know that I have a tendency to prioritize comfortability over anything. You know what I realized the other day? I realized that I've been leaving for school about 10 minutes earlier than normal (for the past month or so) without ever even acknowledging why. It has just become built into my routine to leave earlier. Upon reflection though, I'm realizing that the reasoning behind such earlier departure doesn't involve an effort to avoid a tardy mark — in fact, I've been leaving early to avoid having to interact with too many people in the parking lot on my way into school; to ensure that I get a parking spot close to the door so that I don't have to walk too far/feel overly exposed; to dodge internal discomfort (big or small). I'm embarrassed to even acknowledge this...Nonetheless, as this example demonstrates, I habitually go to great lengths to avoid feeling uncomfortable — "unnecessarily" anxious — insecure. It's as if I live by the following motto...
"If I can control it, I'll do whatever I can to make it easiest and most comfortable for myself."
Guess what? It's not a good idea. Feeling too comfortable externally leads to feeling disconnected and uncomfortable internally; to feeling like you're floating; to feeling too unwavering/neutral. So what does all of this have to do with cities? I've found that feeling uncomfortable externally, amid unfamiliarity and over-stimulation, forces one to find solace within oneself — within one's own body. In NYC, for example, the only place that really feels like your own is...well, your own mind and body. Instead of taking strides to make your external environment a comfortable oasis (something that's impossible in NYC), you're forced to adapt and cope with outer chaos by creating/concocting the opposite internally.
This is why I feel at home in New York — I feel at home because I'm not at home. My home is my body, and I am reminded of this especially when in a city. Being in a city helps me feel grounded, confident, open to new adventures, excited, and alive.
Because...I am alive.
This is a message to myself to embrace what it means to be alive.
Libby: face discomfort, challenge yourself, and live.
Where do you feel most alive?