Yesterday evening I had a major, life-altering ah-ha moment.
You know sometimes when you’re minding your own business, working through your to-do list and all of a sudden you realize something about yourself that was right in front of your face the whole time? Yeah, that kind of ah-ha moment.
I was reading Rachel’s blog earlier this week and learning all about her recent trip to Manhattan with her husband. Rachel’s joy for her experience in the city was infectious and I loved seeing the city through her eyes (and blog post pictures). I read the cute post, wrote a comment about how great it was that she enjoyed it and closed with a casual remark about how when I lived there I hated it.
To understand the ah-ha moment I have to give you some background…
This kind of comment is second nature to me. My close friends and family know all too well that I planned from age 12 to 22 to move to NYC and be an actor. And so when I graduated from college I did. And then I cried. A lot. All the time. In fact, cousin Rachel (whose babies I want to steal), had to come to my apartment when I lived in the city, drag me off of the mattress I was crying on (which was on the floor) and take me home with her to Queens and Steve and pizza and make sure I was ok. (She and Steve also delivered and assembled an Ikea bed from me to prevent more floor mattress crying, but that’s a whole different story!)
So yes. Maureen + NYC – health insurance (where were you when I needed you Obama care?!?!) + a waitress job – any previous waitressing experience + standing in line for 5 hours and not getting to audition = Crying on a floor mattress Maureen.
I was 23, it was my life and I didn’t like it.
So the moment I got cast in a professional play in D.C. I left and never went back.
Ok sob story over. Life is life. I never starved, had tons of friends there and learned that the lifestyle of a struggling actor wasn’t for me. Growth.
…Now you’re all caught up.
Well, in response to my casual comment, sweet Rachel responded with a very earnest, “Why did you hate it?” and so I answered her by typing the first things that came into my head.
“HAHA well I was there as an actress after graduating from a musical theatre program in college. So I was auditioning (or waiting in line and not getting seen at auditions every day) and waiting tables.
Looking back, it’s one of those experiences that I wish I could say to my 23-year old self “Have fun, enjoy this city, don’t try to save money, this won’t last forever!” But at the time, I had no health insurance and felt like I had no future so it was really hard for me to be there on a day to day basis. I never took time to enjoy the city b/c I was so worried about money and what I was doing with my life.”
And then I stopped and stared at the screen and removed my hands from the keyboard and just sat.
“I was so worried about money and what I was doing with my life.”
And there it was. Ah-ha.
These are STILL the two biggest worries that take up my mental space and impede my life. And if I could have only spent the brief time I was in NYC enjoying it, maybe I would have been happier or had a better experience or whatever. What will I be looking back on in ten years at this time in my life? I bet my 39-year-old self will think, “Man, when I was 29 I had a new husband, a condo near the city, a good job and I could do whatever I wanted… sleep late, get a manicure, meet friends for dinner. I wish I hadn’t been so worried about not having enough money or what I was doing with my life.”
BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I SPEND MY DAYS WORRYING ABOUT.
For the record, we are not rich and we are not poor but we make enough money to support ourselves and save a little. We have more than enough money to meet our needs. I do not go hungry. I get to go on vacations. SO WHY AM I WORRYING ABOUT MONEY?!
And if I had a penny for every minute I questioned my job or my purpose or what I am doing with my life, I would be a millionaire! I spend so so so much time agonizing over this and the choices I make each day and are they the right ones and I should just be focused on doing the best where I am now.
If I could go back to New York, I would take my own advice and I would pay my bills and then spend the rest of my money seeing shows and drinking wine because it was only a short period of time. That was not the year I needed to worry about a 401k. It was the year I needed to buy eggs and pay rent.
I know that there are all kinds of other realities with this situation. Everything happens for a reason and I’m grateful that my NYC experience went as it did, because it led me to where I am today.
But the very important realization I had last night is that for the past 7 years (at least) I have been worrying about money and life purpose. Both have worked themselves out just fine with every curve in the road, so my goal is going to be to recognize when I enter this place of worry, recognize it, say hello, and then let it go.
I don’t want to look back in ten years and think, man when I was 29 “I never took time to enjoy the city b/c I was so worried about money and what I was doing with my life.”
So I won’t let that happen. Knowledge is power and I don’t have the answers to why I worry about these things or what I can do to stop them but I do know that if I’m aware of it, I can at least try.
Do you have overarching fears or worries? What are some of the ways you’re working to let them go?