New York City: Keep Working at It

I haven’t written in a lengthy time yet again. It’s been now three months since I moved to New York City, and well. It has been all but anything less than mixed bag of challenges. Some small victories. And generally a constant barrages of me asking myself if I made the right decision. The original plan was to blog my journey so far in the city. And frankly, I suck at the “daily diary” type blogging and it made me feel unmotivated at best. And that to me was a sign. We’re going to what I know. And that’s me. Sure it’s going to be a little more anecdotical but I’ll still sprinkle in a few special items.

But where do I begin on this hiatus I took? What is the point I start at and what is the point I stop? Let’s begin with the story thus far. I made the first mistake moving into Washington Heights. While the initial cost savings were a blessing. The emotional and personal cost was quite high. I can quite figure out people today and I won’t pretend to. But to put it in perspective. Let me explain it this way. As a Black man I have seen my share of injustices. But now to the be the unwilling victim of more because I am a man is wrong.  Plus to do it in a way to keep me powerless is far worse. I mean seriously, I read about what fellow black people went through with Jim Crow laws and becoming truly free. And if you’ve heard about my stop in Virginia you know I’ve experienced it too. We were powerless and to be the victim of someone with a vendetta against men was not in my program. So I can say I was charged more for rent merely because of a penis. That was the welcome for me in the city. I had no allies and no support. It was me versus the world it felt.

Then there was all the problems with the housing situation. Which related back to the whole I had a penis so I’m paying more in rent with no protection legally (in a way.) Black mold, leaking ceilings, mice, cockroaches, and a superintendent who intentionally would enter without notice.  It’s not the living situation I even anticipated.  I mean, the people I lived with argued the problem was because of me. That had I never came none of this would’ve happened. Or it is due to the fact that I am unclean male. If you ask my mother she’d be hard-pressed to hear that I am a dirty slob. That I live in filth and expect a woman to clean up after myself. Yet, this is the state of where I am. The gaslighting by the other roommates to tell the landlord that it  was mere exaggerating is more than enough to sour anyone’s experience.
And now comes the point where you ask me is it still worth it? Is it still worth moving a place that rent cost 4x times that of Montgomery County Pennsylvania. A place that is so densely packed with people an average trip to the grocery store can take over an hour just to pick up bread and milk. Eggs are $4.99 at the local grocery store. If you’re a smoker quit now cigarettes are $12 (I don’t smoke.) And now I’m just trailing off because the question I asked and get asked still sits perfectly perched on my keyboard. Was it worth it?

Yes. Okay. That was weird. Expecting anything different? No. I truly mean that. New York has made me hungry for more. I love my job. Being surround by startups and this young vibrant culture of people needing to make it themselves. Makes me want to do more. I’m also black and I know quite well about that. Being in NYC reminded me of an article from FastCompany by Lydia Dishman titled How These Black Founders Are Building Startups without Investors. In it she talks about how Black founders are under-represented and not to mention women too.  As the system shows minorities have to fight hard to be anything more. And that is what I am talking about. New York City is the mecca for startups this is where Uber, Warby-Parker, Amazon, Casper, and some of the other big names you know came from here. If you’re hungry it’s either here or California. And being part of it is what I wanted for a very long time.  So you get your foot in the door with something you enjoy. A job that makes you want more and you start there. For me being a minority I just want to take every chance I can get.

It’s crazy to think in a place where cash is king, that I’m sitting here talking about opportunities. But isn’t that the truth of it all? You take every one you get. You know where you want to be and you know what you want to do next. You have to start and keep running every chance you get and I can’t stop. I look at it and I want to ask what have I done. But that’s not the way to think about this. It should be about what I am going to do next.  And you can ask the question hat have you done because that’s the experience part of it. But it shouldn’t be a feeling of regret or of self-doubt. It should be really what it does to create the next opportunity.  In Star Wars: Rogue One Jyn Erso has a line that sums this all up so nicely. She says:

They’ve no idea we’re coming. No reason to expect us. If we can make it to the ground, we’ll take the next chance… and the next, on and on, until we win… or the chances are spent.

That’s exactly how I feel about being here in NYC. Maybe it is just me I truly believe we have to keep going until all our chances run out. Because how do we know if we’ve failed unless we keep going. Either we give up now or keep going until we’ve tasted failure. And even then failure isn’t the end. Just the question we have to ask ourselves of “what can I learn to improve myself next.” So yeah, sure this has been a challenge 3 months. But I’m going to keep taking my chances. Because that’s all I have and I’ll keep working at it.

 

 

Cover Photo by Jamie McInall from Pexels

(Repost) A Hard Topic for Men: Vulnerability

I remember the last time I had a good cry for a beautiful reason. It was my brother’s wedding, after doing my toast…. The sight of him on his special day. I had written a speech and did away with it. I spoke from my heart. The whole time I kept thinking. I’m going to cry. I’m going to sob my freaking eyes out. And I did. The tears couldn’t stop coming and even now I can feel them sitting behind my eyes. I cried because it overwhelmed me with good emotions. Things that felt good. I had opened up my heart in front of a room of friends, family, and loved ones.

Since then I am sure I’ve cried other times from the emotions I was feeling. And as a male, especially a young male. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I was on Reddit the other day and I saw this question from one the users posed to women of the site asking “How do women feel about vulnerable men?” The responses were many responses to me were eye opening to read. However, it really got me thinking. Are men like me in fear of appearing vulnerable in front of women? In front of the ones we love? Or in front of anyone? Are we hard-wired to shy away? If you do reading on it there is a plethora of information. One of my favourite sites to read Psychology Today, they posted it about it and had some interesting revelations. Dr. Emma Seppala wrote ,

Although we may try to run from vulnerability, it is an inevitable part of social relationships. Even outside of romance, vulnerability is something we encounter frequently: calling someone who has just lost a child, asking a friend for help, taking responsibility for something that went wrong at work, confronting a family member about their behavior, or sitting by the bedside of a friend with a terminal illness. Opportunities for vulnerability present themselves to us every day, the question is whether we will take them.

She goes further to cite examples about how we as men try to find pragmatic solutions or try to fix problems in our relationships. That we do avoid vulnerability. And I kept thinking about the “why?” And the depth of what this really is. Being vulnerable in front of someone who you really care about is daunting. I am sure men and women go through it. However, part of me leans towards the fact that as men we learn to face it and try to skate around. But why? Why avoid something that enables us to feel. That enables us to relay emotions and share a social connection at a deeper level.

I am not ashamed to admit I cry, have these feelings I want to share with that special someone. My family, my closest friends, my girlfriend. I am also not ashamed to say I am scared as hell to open up for the fear of getting hurt. However, life is about the risks. It is about the chance that it will hurt us. If you look at it from the position of a romantic relationship, it is important that we look at our vulnerability. That the very moment you’re feeling scared to say what you’re feeling. Or cry in front of this person or anyone in fact. Admit when we’ve done wrong. Raise our hand and say that we’re drowning and need help. Say when something doesn’t make us feel good. Or even grieve in the presence of another soul.

Intimacy is only successful when we are open and honest. Being open and honest allows us to be vulnerable, and that seems scary. Frightening is the idea that I will show my heart and have no assurances of what happens next. And no one likes the hurt or the unknown, sure we can act tough pretend that we don’t care. Yet, the key point is we’re only human. We have feelings; we have hopes; we have dreams; we have these things that everyone experiences. We feel things. And here I am questioning why avoid vulnerability?

The people closest to you, those who love you…. they love you for you. Vulnerability isn’t this evil lurking to destroy you. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “[d]o one thing every day that scares you.” I am not too afraid to even admit sometimes I’m scared myself. Allowing myself to be vulnerable. How do we know we’ll get hurt if we don’t take the chance? How do we know that vulnerability is bad if we’re never vulnerable?  I think it is something we as men (and women too) need to remember isn’t out to kill us. That moment where we are at the edge... that we’re vulnerable.  Why not take the chance and see what happens? Life is too short to hide.