The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Res 30: Acknowledge How Far You’ve Come
When I was little, I wanted a pet mouse. I thought they were cute and endearing and pretty low maintenance. I went to the pet store in high school once with a friend and realized they were also extremely inexpensive – probably because people buy them to feed to their snakes. I almost bought one. I told my mom this later and she reacted with pure relief. She did not want a mouse.
I always wanted a pet mouse but then I moved into an apartment in New York City that was overrun by about sixteen hundred mice. I’m only exaggerating a little bit. I suddenly did not want a pet mouse. My first night in the new sublet, a mouse darted under the door frame, stared at me a moment – an intruder in his abode – and then squeezed outside the door and back into the hallway.
I texted my family group message in horror. My brother – who had at this point been living in New York City for four years – responded with a simple “welcome to New York.” I did not feel welcome. And I certainly did not feel like Cinderella.
For those who don’t know the full story, I moved to New York kind of by accident. All I had was my suitcase from Europe and, as I was about to start professional work in the nonprofit sphere, I needed some dress clothes. Because my parents are saints, they shipped a box of pencil skirts and work appropriate blouses that I had left in my childhood closet to my brothers apartment (my living situation was slightly unstable at this point in time).
Upon opening the box, I found – amongst slacks and blazers – a mouse cat toy. Then another. Then another. Then another. I was pulling out miniature mice at the same rate as dresses. I was not amused as I threw the mice across the room. How dare they tease my agony! My dad called and asked if I liked the additions to my clothing care package. Disgusted, I ensured him that I would never look at mice the same and that with all the dramatic (and sincere) flair I could muster, ensured him that I would forever be traumatized by the living conditions of that first NYC apartment.
I’ve moved three times since then, the feeling of mice running across my feet as I brushed my teeth, securely tucked away in my memory. I still don’t want a mouse living in my apartment, but the small cat toys seem a little more harmless now.
I stood on the edge of the subway platform last night, watching two rats fight over a Dorito bag and thinking of how far I’ve come.
Resolution #30: Acknowledge How Far You’ve Come
I laughed at the Dorito rats and looked down at podcast logo on my phone screen – the perfect remaining time for these last few subway stops. As I shuffled onto the train, I thought about mice and I thought about podcasts and I thought about everything else that has brought me to where I am, not just in New York City, but in life in general.
I thought of reading books by flashlight under the covers and climbing trees faster than my neighbor in an attempt to get to the perfect sitting spot. I thought of the first time I led a major service project and I thought of my first Happiness is post. I thought of everything that has led me to where I am – feeling safe and happy in this wildly bright city. And I thought of what it felt like to grow like ivy, spinning circles around old stone.