Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

New York State of Mind: Life Lessons over Manhattans

Gain Clarity in mad Manhattan?  Why, it’s the best place in the world!

Many people say that to in order to gain clarity that you need to escape to a place of exotic solitude.
“Go to India to find yourself,” urged one friend.
“No no, the beaches of Mediterranean,“ said another.
“What about Bali?” offered yet a third.

However, I had done all of these before. I was an Eat Pray Love junkie, spending the better half of my life escaping to exotic locales chronicling my tales of overcoming some ‘tragic’ event. (The last ‘tragedy’ was sea urchin spine in my foot. Right…I really should volunteer with the Red Cross…..)

But real tragedy or not, I’ve still been around the world thrice over and never really came back ‘finding myself’ anything other than more tan. Usually when I came back from an adventure I just wanted to leave again, avoiding all “real” decisions.

Therefore, I decided that my best bet to ‘find myself’ was not to escape to solitude but to confront chaos and opportunity head on. Thus, I “found myself” in New York City.

As they say in New York, “If you make it here, you can make it anywhere.” This city is damn hard from expensive rents to death inducing humidity. I felt that just making it out to dinner without obvious sweat stains on my butt was a huge achievement. Affording the $20 drinks was another. Traversing the city’s hot pavement from engagement to engagement, I become filled with a new sense of urgency to keep achieving, keep doing, and join the “makers.”

Over aperol spritzers and rye manhattans, I collected a bit of career, life and love advice from a cross section of Manhattan’s successful women:

1. “Know what your long term goal is. If you know that, than the steps to get there should be obvious.” – VP of a large fashion brand.
“But I’m a chameleon!” I protested. “I can do and be almost anything! I’m not a ladder but a tree with multiple branches.”
“You’re lying. Something burns in you more than anything else. And you know exactly what that is. Set yourself up to achieve that.”

2. “It isn’t about the right company as it is about the right boss and team. They will make or break you.”- CEO of a high tech company.
“But what if the money is good and I can ride it out?” I countered.
“Trust me, with the wrong boss you’ll use your hard earned money to hire a hit man.”

3. “You can keep talking career, but I think that the life partner you choose is the most important decision of your life. The right one will help you become the best version of yourself.” – new mom.
“But didn’t I hear on Sex and the City that there are no available single men in Manhattan because they mayor removed them with the homeless?” I asked.

“Oh, they exist-but girls need to look outside their overpriced martini glasses. Treat dating like a job hunt. Know what you want. Search for the best match. Try multiple. And oh, don’t show up drunk.”

4. “Dating is f**** hard. In New York, guys are accomplished, aggressive, sexy…but also selfish. Make sure they have the same values as you. For a successful relationship, values matter a lot more than money and success.”- investment analyst.

“What if my long term values keep getting overruled by short term fun?” I felt conflicted, especially in NYC.

“Stop drinking. Then see how fun they really are.”

5. “This city is what you make it. You can choose from a smorgasbord of activities and groups to define yourself so choose wisely.” – tri-athlete/business professional.

“But in Manhattan are people really athletic? Isn’t the preferred sport shopping?” I had just returned from Soho….

“There’s a great community of cyclists and runners here too-but it’s up to you to find them. Everything is here so pretty much your entire existence is up to you.”

And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there… Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.
-Ezra Pound

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