Monday, January 16, 2012

Guest Post: Head vs. Heart

This week's post come's courtesy of Meggie Smith, who I'm delighted to call a best friend and, as of this year, fellow New Yorker. You can check out her blog here; set aside a few hours because you'll be hooked.

Sitting on my couch (OK, not so much a couch as a creaky twin mattress under a lofted bed- but hey, it was France and I only had 250 square feet to work with!) with feet on the coffee table, and a glass full of rosé reflecting the lavender and burnt orange twilight of a sun setting over the Spanish tiles of sloping Provençal rooftop, I was relaxed. And with good reason. Earlier that day I had turned in my thesis, effectively completing the Master’s degree I’d spent the past 9 months working towards. My friends would be over in an hour to celebrate, and I had a call with my Google recruiter in several minutes. I should have been nervous, but the beautiful circumstances around set me at ease.

The phone rang and the ‘+1 212’ on the display looked both foreign and familiarly comforting. My recruiter and I exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes, and then he relayed the good news. “Meggie, your resumé and experience look great. Both hiring managers want to interview you, but you can only go for one position. Which do you want to pursue, Chicago or New York?”

I paused, not able to give an immediate answer. Earlier that day, I had made a list of pros and cons for each city. Chicago far outweighed the pros of New York. It was familiar, close to my family, affordable, with Midwest charm and a haven for fellow Michigan alumni. Most importantly it was home to so many close friends I would need more than two hands to count them all. The list for New York City was paltry in comparison. Cathlin, writing, and inspiration were what I had come up with, my wonderful best friend’s residence the only tangible advantage on my list. Deeming writing and inspiration move worthy qualities to a city I’d briefly visited four times in my life seemed retrospectively absurd when reviewing my list.

But before I knew it, my heart made the decision for me, as I confidently blurted “New York” into the phone receiver. Ten months later, as a fledging New Yorker thoroughly enjoying and soaking in the wonderment of her new city, I suppose you could say the rest is history, the “right” choice made.

Lesson #50: when moving to a big city: don’t let your head preside as the all-knowing master of ceremonies over your choices. For decisions big and small, listen to your heart and go with your gut. Whether you call it God, the Universe, your inner guide, whatever, sometimes you just need to stop and listen to yourself, tapping into your own great wisdom. Amidst the noise, bustle and endless options in the city, you can feel pulled in a million conflicting directions, re-thinking and over analyzing the minutiae of life’s decisions. What restaurant to eat at and whether or not to purchase those high waisted jeans are scrutinized with the same fervor as larger decisions, like which apartment to take, going for a new role at work, or if he is really the right guy for you.

At an impasse, sometimes the best way to go forth is to stop and breathe, ceasing the city and cerebrum’s cacophonous assault on your choices, clear your mind, and listen to yourself. When you tap into your own wisdom and follow your heart and your gut, your decisions may surprise you. But if you’re true to yourself, there really are no wrong choices. You’ll be in for an amazing ride, and if you’re as lucky as me, your next great adventure amongst a million new friends and neighbors in the city that never sleeps.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

“I'm not confused, I'm just well mixed”

- Robert Frost

I had a strange few years of my life that I'd like to tell you about. Essentially, it revolved around the following scenario: every time I was promised great music at a party with friends, I got mediocre beer instead. Time and time again I attended multiple parties in my young twenties expecting to enjoy one of my favorite bands' music. After being promised we'd play Beirut at said parties, I would wait to hear the trumpet blaring, hip shaking gypsy music of the wonderful group.

But each party visit, I was offered a ping pong ball and a beer pong match up instead. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy playing beer pong as much as any other Big 10 grad (though the allure has faded with age). But why, oh, why were we playing beer pong instead of sitting around (and dancing) to Zach Condon and friends?

Finally, late one night, I asked the party host point blank - "So, just when are we going to play Beirut?" I could hardly hide the frustration in my voice, so desperate was I to hear this or this. The host stared at me for a few moments before simply pointing to the ping pong table and saying, "what do you think we're doing?"

It was my turn to stare back. What could he mean with this cryptic statement? Were the band members hiding under the table, ready to jump up for an impromptu jam? A fellow midwesterner shook his head and took me aside, explaining to me that the term "Beirut" refers to the game of beer pong for pretty much everyone from the east coast (and beyond, but apparently I'd missed that).

Oh. I guess that explains it. The fact that I never thought it was weird that people would have parties focused on an indie band with a relatively small (but passionate) following evades me as well.

Lesson #49: Don't assume you know the lingo everywhere, and also don't be afraid to just ask. Sure, you'll feel and look silly asking someone to define a confusing sounding phrase they've known their whole life (hopefully not beer pong in this case), but you'll feel far sillier if you spend years attending parties because you thought some of your favorite music would be played. Maybe even sillier yet if you tell others of your misunderstanding that lasted far longer than it should've.