Full disclaimer, I will not be preaching to uproot your life to a new place. I feel like we all can achieve what I’m going to talk about if we simply push ourselves to step out of comfort spaces. It just so happened my understanding was a result of moving 2,000 miles away.
My friends jokingly “hated going places with me” because I always saw someone I knew. And it’s true. Odds are, I usually was stopping for a short convo, or waving hi from afar. I credit it to being a social butterfly in elementary school. #datplaygroundlife Naturally the habit progressed into adulthood. I navigated social and professional circles alike, always building lasting connections.
Fast forward a few months and a zip code change.
With co-workers included, roughly 20 people actually KNOW who I am in New York (one of those beings is a cat). It's a weird feeling to experience. The anonymity that comes along with relocating. I craved it in the time leading up to the move. Looking back, I can definitely see I wasn't fully prepared for it.
You know that uncomfortable feeling when you don't really know anything people are talking about? When you can't fully contribute to conversation because you are new to the scene? As if you were attending a tech convention, but lived underground for the last decade? (excessive. lol but you get my point). Day by day, I felt like I had less worth and value to bring to conversation. I stopped talking and found myself doing the ["mmmmm" + intrigued smile/ head nod] and listening shyly. Struggling to figure out how I could get through a conversation without having blank stares when I explained something about my life.
You see, this city is filled with the best of the best. World-renowned leaders in every industry. Business, education, entertainment, etc. And to be honest, I never quite understood impact of being a familiar face until I wasn’t one. Now yes, I've written a 101 blogs about this, but my self-esteem as a person has always been heavily based in the approval and support of other people. Being here drove that point in like a knife. My deteriorating confidence also got my wheels turning. The "name" I built over time name gave me assurance, but also a twisted sense of reality.
Because here's what I’ve realized where everybody doesn’t know my name:
Welp, for starters, I am more than a name.
Pretty simple point, but the concept clearly took awhile to grasp. I used to stress tirelessly about maintaining a strong “personal brand”. Every single activity and choice started to tie back to “Is this Shelby”. What I’d tell myself now: DUH Yes, that is Shelby too. No one should be putting Shelby in a corner, including herself.
Conversations can (and should be more general)-
In efforts to not become a mime, I had to give myself a pep talk in the beautifully lit WeWork bathroom mirror one day. " Girl, get over yourself. Stop this madness and talk to people like you've done in other places before." So I did... and you know what? I lived. Because we are capable of connecting through stories and finding similarities, even if our lives are entirely different. Turns out most people have had a ridiculous downtown story. Everyone has binged Netflix or HULU at some point. Everyone has had embarrassing moments. When I started to just see people as people (and not some type of admissions interviewer), I started to feel better about myself.
Past merits are not the only definition of your character- What’s that old saying? Don’t rest on your laurels? I truly believe I had reached a tipping point of complacency for my potential, because I was too busy basking in the memories of former glories. I’ve worked incredibly hard for everything I’ve ever achieved in my life. And..I also can admit I sometimes fell into the safety net of my name. I always aspired to put in %150 and many times I did. Though other days I also put in %75 and relied on being me to get through the rest. You did (x,y,z) so what? What are you doing now? I became afraid to try new things because I didn't want to look stupid. If I couldn't gauge how well I'd succeed, it was no-go. Whaaaat kiiinddd of liiiifeee isss thaaaaatt?
People don’t know who I am now and it’s pushing me to step up and deliver more. I can’t rest on being the super active student. I can't rest on being the girl you remembered from dance shows. That was great for the past, but now it’s time to show it again in new ways. I truly believe this was one of my greatest downfalls in the past. Sipping the "cool kids" Kool-Aid and thinking my past accomplishments were enough to hold up my shortcomings. I'm re-learning to go the extra mile and actually go allll the way. Not only because I have to, but because I want to. It's high-key humbling to stand among people who've accomplished things beyond what I ever imagined for myself at this age. It's also slightly terrifying, but I'm meeting that fear with persistence. Holding myself accountable and confronting that devil in the details. I needed to be here for life to say "Good job sweetie, but imagine what you'll be when you (and your mild ego) get out of your own way?"
EXPAND. EXPAND. EXPAND.
We stick to the circles, places, and interests we’re familiar with. There’s nothing wrong with that, but also it's so necessary to branch out sometimes. Remember how I said I wasn't going to preach to you about doing a huge life move? Well I was serious. Expanding your life can come in a variety of sizes that don't require you to quit your day job. Try a new restaurant or bar. Walk up to people you don't know at a networking event. Go to a different class than the one where you'll always know everyone. Go to a different show. Hang out with those so-called "acquaintances" and get to know them more. Our souls need to be exposed to some fresh air. So often we place ourselves in comfort spaces because we live for the rush. We loved being loved and slightly a little bit coddled when you think about it. It's great to have reassurance in our actions and efforts. Yet..there's also something to be said about the feeling of putting yourself out there. Looking back and saying "Wow, I never would've met this person, or learned about this if I hadn't stepped out of the box."
Maybe none of this applies to you and you're grooving in the comfort zone. No judgement over here. I'm just saying, every now and then add in a little spice. If you can relate, or are stepping into that uncomfortable space now...please keep doing it. You will continue to learn. You will continue to surprise yourself and be surprised with how much is outside of the safe nest we build for ourselves. So yeah, Cheers was definitely right. Sometimes, you wanna go where everybody knows your name. And it's absolutely incredible to reconnect with those old feelings. However, sometimes the place everybody doesn't know your name, is where you learn just exactly what your name truly means.
Sending love and light always. :)