Imperfection: A Love Story
As I sit outside a neighborhood cafe and watch the diverse population of New York City, I think back to when I first moved here almost two years ago. I am not going to tell you my story of moving from Texas to the Big Apple, because we’ve all heard that one before. What I am going to tell you is how I discovered that life somehow has a way of giving you what you need rather than what you think you want.
Growing up, I always romanticized my life and, to some degree, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. However, when your expectations are based on those romanticized ideas, you are likely to be disappointed. Having a glass half-full mentality is different from believing that if your life is not picture-perfect in the way you always imagined it, then you are somehow a failure. Being a 20-year-old fashion student in New York City can lead you to believe many things that are simply not true. I believed that if I didn’t move to NYC to attend fashion school, then I was doomed for a very boring existence. I believed that if I didn’t have a huge group of friends in the city and brunch with them every weekend, I wouldn’t be “living my best life.” I believed if I didn’t secure the exclusive internship, I was a failure. I imagined that life in New York City would be just like it is portrayed in Sex and the City, and guess what, I was disappointed.
I remember the first time I saw a cockroach in my apartment. I may laugh now, but at the time it was possibly the most disturbing thing I had seen in the city. I cried and called my mom. I remember getting lost so many times with a basically dead phone and standing on the street questioning my entire life. I remember being disappointed when my so-called “best friend” didn’t congratulate me on my raise at work. Life sucks sometimes, especially when you feel like your expectations are not being met. All the things I expected to happen, naturally…certainly…did not. Learning how to kill that cockroach in your first apartment, finding your way around the city, and making friends who truly value your friendship won’t come easy. Things will fall apart, and starting from square one is inevitable. “That’s another reason I love New York. Just like that, it can go from bad to cute,” as Carrie Bradshaw says in SATC. It’s funny that the people you think have it “together” usually do not. Moving to New York City was not a mistake, and after countless attempts to plan my escape, I have realized that I would not be who I am today without this experience.
I do not know everything, and I most definitely never will. The truth is that even your parents still don’t have it completely together as much as they would like you to believe they do. What I do know is that all those things I imagined for myself and believed I wanted were not actually what I needed. Measuring your success and worth by the way you look, how many friends you have, how much money you make, or where you intern will never fill you up. Having dreams and setting goals is important, but not accepting that there will be set-backs and disappointment along the way is unrealistic.
Here are some of my beliefs that helped me stop focusing on perfection:
1. If you don’t get the job or internship—it wasn’t meant to be.
I wanted an internship at a company that I obsessed over for so long. I imagined having a 9-5 Monday through Friday schedule. I imagined working in an office that was aesthetically pleasing and sitting in a big conference room pitching my ideas to people I admired. My dream company emailed me during the interview process to tell me they decided to withdraw their summer internship program this year. I was disappointed but dusted myself off and went on to pursue other opportunities. The internship I have now is not exactly what I envisioned, but it didn’t take me long before I realized it’s exactly what I needed. The company allows me to be hands-on, pitch and create ideas, and then see these ideas come to life. I am learning so much more than I ever expected.
2. Adult friendships are hard; be appreciative of the few good ones you do find.
For the longest time, I envied those Instagram stories where a group of girlfriends were brunching at one of the most popular restaurants in the city. I thought there must be something wrong with me. Why am I not getting invited? My closest friend in the city is 23. She works two jobs and barely has time to cook dinner for herself, let alone go to brunch every weekend. The moments we do find in our schedules to sit on a patio and sip spicy margaritas are so much more meaningful. Life isn’t a movie — people are trying to find themselves just as much as you are. You’ll find yourself sitting alone at a cafe more than you thought. Remember that being comfortable with being alone is a power move.
3. You can’t plan the best moments of your life—they just happen.
This one is pretty cliché and hard to admit, but many of the best things in life just kind of, you know, happen.
I met my boyfriend when I least expected to, and I even got a good job I pursed on a whim. I am not saying the things you plan for will not happen. What I am saying is if you stop putting so much pressure on yourself and your life to be perfect, the outcome will leave you so much more fulfilled. When you stop always striving for perfection, you will realize everything that was meant to be is right in front of you.
I hope by reading this you’ll feel less alone and that you’ll realize how perfectly imperfect life is. Being in your 20s has its good days, but most definitely will bring you bad days. When those moments come that are so full of happiness, ones you never even believed existed, relish in them. Allow yourself to take it all in and be present during those times.