One in a million
I became a New York City resident on June 13, but before I did, I flirted with the city. I courted the city. I promised my life to the city. And when it finally came time to move in and start my life in the city, she jeered at me and said “Congratulations chump, now get to work.”
From the very night that I finished my move to this very moment, the city has offered me very little in the way of comfort. In fact, living here two weeks has taught me one thing about city living: it’s painstakingly difficult and lonely.
While I had great help from friends to move in, I still carried loads of things up to my third-floor walkup. I built furniture piece by piece. I carried a 120-pound air conditioning unit down the block and up to my apartment in the sweaty heat.
Second guess yourself and exit the train station and try to get back in? Wait 20 minutes. Want to see a movie at the theater closest to you? Sorry, everything is sold out. Take another 20-minute train ride to a movie theater 10 blocks from the train stop. Need to sit down because you’re exhausted while in transit? There are no seats. Instead, get intimate with the strange fellow behind you.
I could go on. I know there are worse things in the world, but all I’m saying is that city living isn’t easy and it takes some serious getting used to.
The thing that I am struggling the most with, however, is not navigating public transit or the continual process of moving in. I’m dealing with a real inner struggle that is causing me to evaluate my entire being. It sounds dramatic, but I’m not exaggerating.
With one week at my new job down, I’ve never felt so inadequate. Sure I have the experience, the know-how and the skills, but learning a relatively new place, who’s who and how to get things done and done right is so tedious and largely comes by doing and sometimes making mistakes.
I’m not used to being the idiot; the screwup. The job I left, I left seasoned. I left with the knowledge that I did a great job and would be big shoes to fill.
I know I got there partially because I am so hard on myself and hold myself to high standards. This has not changed, so daily I end up speaking negatively to myself and it is taking a toll.
Mix that with the loneliness and I’ve got a bag of emotions swirling above me, ready to dump on me when any little trip up or breath of nostalgia comes along.
It really is true–you can feel alone in a crowd. People don’t look at you, really, unless they have to. If you talk to a stranger, you’re strange. Everyone is poring over their novels or occupying their eardrums with music.
The only ones breaking the invisible barrier are those desperately in need–for money, food or help of some kind. I think that really freaks people out.
I kept thinking last week how off I felt and wondering why I felt so alone. I asked a good friend, who just happens to be a lifelong New Yorker, and she said the majority of New Yorkers feel alone.
My bouts of loneliness, homesickness and nostalgia are too much to take sometimes–an email from an old co-worker and I feel it well up in my throat.
I was comfortable where I was. I could skillfully get my job done. I knew people and people knew and liked me. It was a good life.
But I was spinning my wheels. I was ready for something new and something challenging and exciting. So here I am, faced with this lonely city and my temporary incompetence.
I refuse, however, to be lonely. I refuse to continuously beat myself up and make myself feel worthless and unable to continue through these rough patches. Yes, I should let myself feel these pangs and hold myself to a high standard, but I cannot let these toxins invade my system and change my makeup.
A Million to One
As someone who follows Jesus, it would be ill-fitting of me to become a downtrodden, depressive loner. He calls for victory. He calls for confidence and joy.
I lost sight of him for awhile because of how busy I was, but in this new, exhausting and overwhelming experience is actually meant to turn me toward Him. I know what a believer is supposed to do in hard times, but I was only half-assing it by saying a short prayer and hoping for the best. But that is not what God is calling me to do. He wants my full dependence and trust.
It started when I was out working in Midtown that I saw a sign for a church that said “God is calling you.” I smirked and imagined God literally calling my phone. But then it got real when on the train home after a long day I saw a scrap of paper on the floor. Typically I wouldn’t touch such things, but it was a prayer some evangelist probably gave someone or left behind. “Jesus is calling you,” it said.
And this week, I brokenly prayed to God, “I can’t do this in my own strength. I’m not equipped.”
To that, He answered a few hours later from a book that I have ironically titled “Jesus Calling:”
“Rest with me a while. You have journeyed up a steep, rugged path in recent days. The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty. Look neither behind you nor before you. Instead, focus your attention on Me, your constant Companion. Trust that I will equip you fully for whatever awaits you on your journey.”
All I can say now is, let my transformation begin. I’m ready to become the person I need to be, just God, please hold my hand.