What Happens When a New Yorker Moves to California?

I grew up in New York City. Even though I haven’t lived there in over ten years, I still have a lot of New York pride. Growing up in New York endowed me with some special skills, like knowing where to stand on a train platform for the optimal exit and recognizing a real bagel.

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As a shy child, it also allowed me to not just avoid strangers, but take pride in it. I learned to walk quickly and with purpose. I was suspicious of anyone who wanted to talk to me. It made me feel street smart (or as street smart as an eleven year old on the Upper West Side can really be). (read more…)

Getting Better at Getting Rejected

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“I’m going to start online dating. What do I need to know?”

My sister has never online dated, and now that she’s happily married, she’s not likely to. But she’s not shy about sharing advice. “Be prepared to get rejected,” she told me.

This is what I call a truthslap.

We know that being rejected—or rather, being resilient—is not an innate quality, but rather a skill. Or at least something that be learned. There’s a reason Jia Jhang put himself through “100 days of rejection therapy” (and a reason why his project was covered by media outlets from Huffington Post to Bloomberg).

I’m choosing to believe that online dating is my own gauntlet of rejection therapy, and that being rejected is a skill. That means I can master it. To master it, I have to practice it. (read more…)

But I Want to Be a Prodigy

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The chalkboard outside my local yoga-pilates-zumba studio reads, “‘You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start, to be great.’ – Zig Ziglar.” It irks me every time I pass it. First, I want to erase the extra comma. Second, I hate that a catchy phrase, posted to sell glorified fitness classes (of which I have taken many, in search of flexibility and salvation), resonates and stabs me a little in my soul.

As a child, I wanted to be awesome at everything I did, right away. Inflating my unrealistic expectations was the tremendous ease with which so many early school milestones had come to me. Reading, writing, arithmetic—check, check, check. Watching classmates labor to grasp the same skills enforced a sense of difference and superiority and the belief that I should be able to conquer anything, first try. Teacher talk about hard work and different people having different strengths sounded like pap for the strugglers. (read more…)

F*&%! Where’d the Path Go?

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I’m confused about what comes next in life. It’s not just me. I see others struggling too. I’ve heard the following statements in just the last few weeks:

  • A friend: “I just want someone to tell me what job would be good for me.”
  • Someone thinking about changing jobs: “I’m paralyzed by a fear of a misstep.”
  • A 24-year-old: “I feel like I’ve squandered my life so far. What have I achieved?”

We worry about our place in the working world, and if we are making the right decisions (as if there is such a thing). We worry about which next step leads to the right ultimate goal. We struggle to figure out what are strengths are and how to use them. We worry that we are missing the right/best/perfect opportunity. (read more…)

Does Your Greatest Strength Reveal Your Biggest Weakness?

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It’s a typical Sunday when my boyfriend is happy to relax and laze about in the hammock in my back patio — and I join him for about 15 minutes before I get restless and ask what we’re going to do next. This ability to easily relax and enjoy leisure is what I call his “vacation brain.” Very little upsets him; he is generally calm and almost never defensive. There is a flipside to this enviable quality, though. His relaxed demeanor means a certain detachment. He prefers to avoid difficult things and easily puts them out of mind (sometimes to my annoyance).

These opposing traits are two sides of the same coin, or, what I think of as a Janus face.  Janus is the Roman god of motion and transitions. Since these concepts are complementary in nature – starting one thing means ending another, arriving in one place requires leaving somewhere else — Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, one looking to the future, and one to the past. Similarly, our greatest strengths are typically the inverse of our biggest weaknesses. (read more…)