How To Cope When The Big Apple Tastes Rotten
25 Nov 2016

How To Cope When The Big Apple Tastes Rotten




Living in New York can be the equivalent of tightrope walking. For those who walk the line dancing through skyscrapers, most days you’re on a high, feeling like you’ve mastered the art of balancing life to the fullest in the world’s most fast paced city. Then, without warning, this glamorous metropolis winds will test you with a cold, hard gust of reality, serving a platter of s*** that can send the most confident cosmo-gal falling into a downward spiral. Case and point, my past two weeks- In the last dozen days I was told I had to move out of my Williamsburg brownstone home in 30 days due to renovations, my roommate decided she’d relocate to Miami, and my beloved winter Burberry coat was stolen from a NETWORKING event leaving me seemingly homeless, friend-less, and coatless in the cold.

Unlucky? Perhaps, but New York’s sh*** surprises can be just as common as the winged-rats, commonly known as NYC pigeons, that flock the streets. Initially, my reaction was emotional and I’m truly surprised my neighbors didn’t call 911 hearing the outcry of frustration my pillow couldn’t mask. After I got that out of my system, I strangely found myself feeling surprisingly laissez fare. After four years of being dealt similar seemingly poor hands, I’ve realized the cards are often deceiving and I can turn the most untimely draw into a royal flush, with the right tricks.




For anyone being tested by the city, I urge you not to stop your head-spinning and listen up. Here are ways to keep at the top of the food chain when the concrete jungle preys on your day.

Think MACRO and Check Your Perspective

Remember that first heartbreak shattering life as you know it? Remember how you couldn’t imagine life without significant other? Remember how much better you were after undergoing that change and emerging a more self-aware butterfly? (If that’s not relatable you’re not human). In my Cuffing Season article, I urged you not to compare yourself to others. For this instance, I would encourage you to harness comparison as a weapon to combat your racing mind and check yourself. Remind yourself of a previous hardship you overcame, and how in retrospect the pain and frustration you felt were completely temporary. Find your modern day equivalent of the mantra “this too shall pass,” and say it aloud while taking a deep breath.

In New York, there’s no time to be sad or upset and dwell on the what-could-have-been. The city’s natural selection is too savage for that, so you need to grab your cape and jump into superwoman mode. Personally, I’m extremely list oriented, so, writing a plan of action with deadlines is my first step. In this case, that requires scouring Zillow, Spareroom, and Craigslist for my apartment hunt.  Life coaches have advised to visualize where I WANT to be in order to give my to-do list clear direction. So, if you’re going through a breakup, visualize yourself a confident, single butterfly free of all emotional cocoons. If you’re unhappy with your job, envision working for a company that gives you greater joy and sense of purpose. Then, fill in the details and make sure your daily action items help you achieve this tangible macro-goal.

Stay on track and Keep a Clear Head




It’s important not to let your temporary challenge consume all areas of your life, so keep your normal routine as best you can. For me, it’s vital I stay focused and positive, requiring me to force myself to workout even if I’m feeling emotionally low and wanting to lie in bed everyday binging Black Mirror. In the wise words of Elle Woods, “Endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t kill their husbands (or jump into the Hudson after being kicked around by Lady Liberty)!” Easier said than done, but keeping a stable mindset will equip you with tools to conquer your life speed bumps without burning out.

A good portion of New Yorkers deal with stressful situations by self-medicating. Need proof? Visit any singles bar on Valentine’s Day (or after the 2016 US election results).  Without detailing different methods (we all have our vices), there’s often an inclination to turn toward your pick of poison to ease life’s angst. When I heard the ridiculously short timeline from my landlord, my first inclination was “Where’s the Pinot!?” But be forewarned my fellow lushes: An impulsive reaction that’ll temporarily heal your angst could result in prolonging your challenges, rather than nipping your issue in the bud. No one wants to be THAT girl three tequilas deep in the corner crying to an unfortunate fellow bargoer about personal problems. It’s not productive or fun for anyone. You’ll also add hangover to your list of dilemmas, and saving the world on a hangover is not on anyone’s agenda. Stick with a clear head, get down to business, and keep those serotonin levels in check!

That said, rewarding yourself with a glass of Chardonnay after crossing off your life-to-do-list is completely reasonable and sometimes necessary motivation. Just monitor at your own risk, Wonderwoman.




Embrace the Change and Find the Silver Lining

This part is going to sound cliché, but there’s literally a positive to almost every hardship at the end of the day (sans my missing Burberry coat, because that just blows). When I look back at my biggest struggles, they all had some secret silver lining, even if the line could only be seen in retrospect. The more I go through, the more I’m able to recognize these positives in the moment from a more logical place than focusing on the negatives my emotions dwell on.

So, when it comes to my dream apartment being snatched from me in a blink of an eye and losing my roommate, there’s certainly a sense of loss. I mourned for a minute and then thought of some upshots. 1) I have a new vacation location in Miami with said roomie. 2) I was hardly ever in my apartment and paying astronomical rent- the universe was telling me it’s time to downsize and save money to travel, what I’ve been missing for the past year. 3) Living with new folk could open the door to some amazing new connections (after filtering through the crazy), and possible lifelong friendships.

Be it a relationship loss, apartment struggles, or a job challenge- difficult circumstances are just momentary tests. They help us navigate our inner strength to conquer and emerge THAT much more badass, with endearing stories to tell our grandchildren. I consider myself a female Forrest Gump, and add each new unexpected twist to the sordid page-turner that is my life story. And at the end of the day, your worth isn’t attached to a person, place, job, or item of clothing… even if it IS the irreplaceable fashion staple of the season. Your worth is your mind and how you handle your biz. So when you find yourself knee deep in NYC sh**, say thanks for the fertilizer and use it to grow your life’s beautiful oasis.

How do you cope with big tests? How are you coping now? Let me know your thoughts below, can’t wait to hear from you!

Fiona Johanna

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Fiona Johanna

Model and Video Content Strategist for Refinery29.com living the life in New York City.

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