Friday, July 30, 2010

Empire State of Mind

I wouldn't say that I'm "rebellious" per se.  I don't have tattoos.  I don't have piercings anywhere but my earlobes.  And, really, let's be honest, I am a straight-laced, J.Crew-shopping, Top-40-listening, corporate-America-working, unapologetically mainstream 20-something.  I know that.  My rebellion takes place completely in my head.  My own inner struggle between being content with the straws I've drawn in life and this rebellious streak that nags at me, telling me that no, you must resist!  You cannot simply "settle" for the status quo!  There's always the thought in the back of my head that something can always be better.  It's that quest for perfection that keeps me continually on the lookout for the perfect apartment, the perfect job, the perfect boyfriend.

And that continual pursuit of "something better" appears to be symptomatic of my generation.  To us, nothing is permanent, and everything is fluid.  Anything can be changed, undone, fixed.  Don't like the college you picked?  Transfer.  Don't like the boy you married?  Get divorced.  Don't like your job?  Quit.  Isn't that part of the beauty of so many things in life?  You are allowed change your mind.  We are a generation of flip-floppers.  When I accepted my job offer over 2 years ago, my dad commented that he had never known anyone who was already planning when they were going to quit before they had even started their job.  I was very vocal about wanting to quit within 2 to 3 years of starting.  Now that the 2-year mark is nearly upon me, that nagging feeling that I should really be looking for "something better" is becoming more and more urgent.   It's pretty easy to hate this job, but I wonder how much of that hate is a sign of true discontent or whether it's simply a result of my own rebellion against myself.  I wonder how much my own state of mind is actually preventing me from embracing and enjoying my current lot in life.

Take, for example, when I first moved to New York.  I absolutely hated the idea of being that wide-eyed girl from southern, suburban America moving to The Big City.  As a result, I really tried to resist the City's charms.   When I went home and people asked me how New York was, I found myself hedging.  I was snobby about it.  I'd say something like, "Oh it's okay.  I mean, you know I never really wanted to live in New York.  It's just the only place in the States I can see myself living right now."  I could hear myself downplaying it, like it was just sort of the default choice.  No big deal, who the fuck cares, it's just New York.  And eventually, even I tired of being such a Debbie Downer about the whole thing.  I decided I needed an attitude adjustment and resolved to be less negative.  Basically, I gave in.  I stopped resisting.  I allowed New York to seduce me.  I embraced it.  And it still kills me a little to say it, but yeah, okay, I do love living here.

So what would happen if I stopped trying so hard to hate my job?  What if accepted it for what it is - a job that pays the rent and enables me to enjoy New York?  What if I actually tried to embrace it?

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