I’m from New York City; a cultural melting pot, better known as the city that never sleeps. I made many fond memories growing up there. Double dutch on the sidewalks as a kid, free summer concerts and street fairs, not to mention tons of great food from all over the world just a subway ride away.
Choosing to leave for the first time for residency was a huge deal. I was ready for something different, new experiences, and new adventures. But moving to Connecticut was more of a culture shock than I expected. Connecticut is quieter, almost everything closes at 10 p.m., and to make matters worse I was living in an area where there were a lot more conservative people than I was typically used to.
The initial excitement of living in my first apartment in a new town wore off quickly. I was homesick and bored. Hiking and walking trails were fun for the 5 minutes it took before insects and critters, never before seen by this native New Yorker, decided to join for the walk. Not to mention, dealing with the recent loss of my dear grandmother and the stress of a failing relationship, all while starting a new job was, well…rough.
I was not happy and it was becoming very obvious. Although never a big social butterfly, I was definitely becoming more of a hermit crab. I shielded myself from the very new opportunities and experiences I left my hometown for. It felt natural to almost drown myself in self-pity, convinced that I was misunderstood. In typical millennial fashion, social media at first seemed to make everything worse. Everyone was happy, everyone was traveling, everyone was in love, and everyone was fabulously fashionable. When really, the truth is transparency can be lacking online, and everything that you thought “everyone is” was not real life.
Yes, yes, we have all heard it before, “you can’t believe everything you see online”. But, sometimes it is easy to forget about how what we allow ourselves to read and see constantly, can affect our own views, thoughts, and actions. It is so important to surround yourself with images that will inspire you to think better, eat better and be better. I mean #livingmybestlife anyone?
There are great motivational pages and bloggers that I found on my social media accounts. That is exactly how I was inspired to try meditation and mindfulness, just from scrolling through the explore page on my Instagram feed. I was able to unleash what I like to call “my zen mode”.
I did not appreciate the extent of just how powerful mindfulness and meditation is until I started. At first, the thought of completely blocking all my thoughts seemed impossible, especially at a time when so much was changing around me and I had so many different thoughts on a daily basis. I soon learned that this is not the goal of mindfulness training at all. The goal is awareness of self in the body and within the environment, a completely different and empowering concept.
Incorporating mindfulness sessions every now and again, gets me out of a rut when I feel that life is getting hectic. As a busy resident physician, and now first time mother, it is pretty simple to do. There are great apps like Headspace and Calm that are free and easily accessible. Most importantly, I have at my hands reach a way, the perfect tool to do some reflecting and work on rebooting myself.
I stopped looking to others for my joy. I am loving me. I am imperfect; sometimes I catch myself slipping into the boat of guilt, regret, and jealousy. But my awareness of those habits drive me to replace those thoughts with more positive and uplifting thoughts. Connecticut living, was no longer boring, old “not New York City” living. My new town was just that a new town with its own beauty and character. I wasn’t this secretly miserable person just surviving, but happy and learning to make the best of every day in the best way that I know how.