Onward & Upward

When I was in college, I vowed to always say yes to adventures. I tried to go along with unexpected, spur of the moment plans as much as I could because it always led to a good story and a fun, memorable experience.

So when the opportunity to interview for my dream job came up, I couldn’t say no – and I didn’t. It would require me relocating, but after four years of commuting into Manhattan for internships and work, the idea of not having to commute with the masses, deal with crowds of tourists, traffic, stress, transit delays and the list goes on and on, was pretty appealing to say the least.

Several weeks later, I’m officially a resident of the state capital and eager to start my next adventure. I’ve already started bringing some of my belongings three hours north to my new abode. I’m almost completely packed at home, the moving truck is reserved and everything is ready to go.

These changes have been a long time coming, so I couldn’t be happier or more excited that the time is finally almost here. It’s about time I move up in the world, geographically and professionally. New home, new job, new life.

It seems people are generally sympathetic when I tell them I’m leaving the city – “Oh, well, you can always come back in a year.” But the truth is, I couldn’t be more excited to leave. Ironically, I’ve found that there’s not much for me here anymore. This is the city that never sleeps, but it’s not the only city in the state. Or the world. I’ve lived here for my whole life; I’m ready for a change and something new. I’m beyond ready for a change of pace and a change of scenery. Being surrounded by nature instead of buildings, concrete, trash and tourists will be refreshing – literally. New York City will always be where I’m from, but I’m ready to call a new place home.

I was born, I have lived

Don’t run away. Don’t be shy. You’ve got questions, so do I. Every day is a chance to change the story. Don’t run away. Take a shot. Give it everything you’ve got. Without pain, tell me, what’s the point in glory? 

Life has been moving faster than ever lately. I took a chance, accepted an offer and am starting a lease on an apartment next month. I’ll be relocating to a great new place for an amazing opportunity. While I’m leaving behind the so-called glamorous bustling city that ever sleeps, I’m thrilled for a change of pace. A fresh start.

This will be the biggest adventure I’ve embarked on to date and I can’t wait to get started. But first, packing.

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, But Experience Does

Being a few years out of college, it’s about the time when my peers and I look at each other to evaluate and compare the varying degrees of success we’ve achieved. Some of us have reached mid-level jobs in our careers, some of us have gotten engaged or married, some of us are well-established and making good money, and some of us are achieving our dreams.

Arianna Huffington is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter because of her positivity, inspiration and encouragement and commitment to a healthy mind, body, and work/life balance. She shared an article last week from Entrepreneur comparing success to happiness, emphasizing the fact that they are not one and the same as some may think – a very relevant point for my fellow millennials and me. Having been at a crossroads of my career before, I have had to face that question: Join the corporate world with a consistent paycheck or freelance in a cut-throat, unpredictable industry?

They say that money can’t buy happiness. Maybe it can at first; paying the bills and having extra funds to splurge on a night out or a new pair of shoes is undoubtedly satisfying. But after a while, I think we all learn that designer bags and a closet full of cute outfits don’t have long-term effects on our state of being. Material objects won’t bring us happiness. They’ll make us happy for a moment, but chances are it’s probably not fulfilling. So much research has been done to show that investing in an experience is better for us than splurging on a material item.

I would be a hypocrite to say that I’ve never spent a lot of money on material possessions – I’ve had shopping sprees and have decided to buy the designer bag despite not really needing it. But I’ve also been lucky enough to be able to invest in traveling, and the overseas trip I took last year is one that I’ll never forget.

We often think that attaining certain things – whether material or not – will make us happy. “I’ll be happier after I buy the new iPhone” or “I’ll be happier when I’m in a relationship.” But more often than not, these statements are false. We can show off that we have these things and maybe others don’t, and maybe that might be satisfying for a moment. We want these things because aside from happiness, we think they are markers of success. But maybe they aren’t.

Perhaps the mark of success is different for every individual. Maybe it’s starting a family. Maybe it’s landing a dream job. Maybe it’s safely backpacking across Europe alone. Or maybe it’s just figuring out exactly what we want and going after it.

“I guess this is growing up.”

I’m at the age at which I know more people who are married, engaged or in very serious, long-term relationships than who are single like myself. On my social news feeds, pictures of diamond rings, black-tie parties and babies outnumber those of wild nights out partying.

It’s a weird feeling to realize you’re really an adult. Growing up as the youngest of three children and one of the younger cousins, I’ve always been one of the youngest people in the room. But for the past few years in social or professional gatherings, that’s no longer been the case.

I think I’ve always been an independent woman. In college, since my friends and I had very different schedules between classes, work, internships and other activities, I frequently ended up eating meals alone. I never minded it; rather, I kind of liked it. I often used the time to study or unwind from my previous class, or prepare for the next one.

Today, I typically run my errands alone – my way, on my time, at my pace. I prefer not to have to wait for someone else. Sure I’d rather not to have to lug all of the groceries from the car myself, but moving at another’s pace for an extended period of time exhausts me too.

When it comes to traveling, I always prefer to go alone. Having to wait on someone else is something that never interested me, and seems like a waste of time when time is most precious. But on the other hand, having a travel buddy is invaluable – as long as you have an understanding about your goals and itinerary (or lack thereof) for the trip. It’s been said that you never truly decide whether you get along with someone until you travel with them; I’ve seen this proven in my own experience. But that’s a tangent for another time.

The twenties have proven to be a time full of change, growth and learning. It doesn’t stop, and probably never will. This is the time to figure out who we are, what we want and how we’re going to get it. In the immortal words of Blink-182, “Well, I guess this is growing up.”

Family Means Nobody Gets Left Behind… or Forgotten

(I’ll admit, Disney’s Lilo & Stitch made me cry.)

Growing up, I always felt like my (mother’s) family was so small. Friends would often have large gatherings with extended families and mine was tiny. I knew it was because most of my mother’s family lived overseas, and we weren’t that close simply because we were physically so far away. Traveling there over the past few years, I was shown such generosity and unconditional love that I’m not used to, that we don’t show in the States. Now don’t get me wrong – I love my family in the USA, but the family culture, bond and love overseas is truly something else that Americans just don’t have. To be treated like royalty by some people I had never even met was truly something else.

I have been so fortunate enough to spend time with my extended family and go back to my roots, the places where my family comes from. My trips only solidified the strong connection I have to my family’s past.

This past week, two of my cousins from overseas visited the USA and stopped in New York for a few days. I hadn’t seen them in four and a half years. While their visit was short, it’s always so magical to see them. It feels surreal, like it was a dream that may not have actually happened.

Having family on the opposite side of the world and being so close to people who live clear across the globe is nothing short of difficult. Goodbyes are never easy. It’s always, “Until next time!” And it always gives me even more reason to want to travel, because there are so many familiar, loving faces to see. No matter the distance and no matter the time that passes between visits, this is my family.

Time Traveling

It happens every time I eat hummus. Or drink rose tea. Or speak Hebrew. Or breathe the aroma of seasoned meat grilling on a Halal street cart. I float back to another time and another place, extraordinary sensory experiences that will always remind me of being somewhere else – if just for a split second.

Of course, mental pictures are invaluable. Vivid mental memories often seem so current (a la “Feels like just yesterday that…”), but those don’t hold a token to the memories my tastebuds have of Israeli hummus or my nose has of the scent from meat cooked in Middle Eastern spices. The mental images pale in comparison to the memories stored in the physical senses.

We hear it all the time about so many different things: “It’s like riding a bike.” Not necessarily in this context, but it’s a similar idea. Our tastebuds remember the unique foods we ate. Our noses remember the new smells we hadn’t inhaled before. Our mouths remember the movements of a foreign language we hadn’t previously practiced. Mental pictures are invaluable, but they’re just that: pictures.

I’ve always been one to learn by interacting with something: by doing something. We learn to drive a car by driving a car. I learned to shoot and edit video by doing it. Looking at a diagram or reading instructions isn’t nearly as effective for me as physically performing an action. By doing and interacting with something, we become familiar with it – I know my brain records it like a video that plays back the next time I’m in that situation.

I recently had to take a refresher course in CPR since receiving certification last year through my job. I’ll admit, I had forgotten most of what the instructors told us. 30 compressions, 2 breaths. But as they said, the act of performing CPR is one of pure muscle memory. Once I did it, I remembered. As it goes, practice makes perfect. Memories are a weird thing.

I am certainly no scientist – while I minored in psychology in college, I am admittedly no expert in the field. My perspective is based solely on my observations from my own experiences; something that occurs to me each time I have one of those brief moments. Surely that’s something people can relate to: being reminded of a faraway place or random memory just from tasting or smelling something unique. And for me, those memories are far more powerful in connecting me to my past experiences.

“Yep, wrestling.”

While I decided that 2015 was going to be a year of trying new things, one thing I hadn’t anticipated was getting into a new television program. This typically wouldn’t be anything groundbreaking, but it’s not just any show – it’s wrestling. (So sometimes, the ground – or ring – does break.) Shortly before the new year began, my sister and her boyfriend bribed me with homemade pizza from scratch to come to their apartment to watch the WWE’s Monday Night RAW. Food is the most effective way of bribing me, so I went.

Coming from a broadcasting and production background, the bit of WWE programming I’ve seen since then has been some of the most entertaining and fascinating television I’ve seen recently. The development of in-depth, intertwining storylines with so many characters is brilliant, but any programming worthy of airtime will have that. One of my favorite aspects of it is that at some point during the show, one of the superstars references something in the news. A few weeks ago, Jon Stewart even made an appearance on RAW. For kids who probably don’t keep up with current events, it’s a neat outlet for them to hear about things happening in the world. WWE also hosts an annual reading challenge to encourage kids to read, with the grand prize being a trip to WrestleMania, the event of the year. On top of the content and off-screen initiatives, my sister also helped me realize how many anti-smoking commercials are aired during WWE’s programming on other cable channels (i.e. USA and SyFy). As long as children don’t imitate the professionals’ moves like my older brother did on my sister and me when we were younger, it’s hard to argue against it.

Growing up, my sister and I often watched wrestling as it’s what our brother wanted to see. I always hated it. It’s weird to come back years later and see the programming and the larger enterprise for what it really is – and to enjoy it so much.

And in the interest of full disclosure, congratulations to my big sister for landing her dream job! Tomorrow will mark the first time in over two years that we’re not going into work at the same company and while this makes me sad, I couldn’t be more happy and proud.