Featuring Guest Blogger: Jessica Hill
Each week I will harness the manic energy of NYC to try something new that could better my mind, body or community. This week I…
On a particularly cold and chaotic evening in NYC last week, I stumbled hastily into a Barnes and Noble on my way home from work. After waiting impatiently to enter the unbearably slow revolving door, tapping my foot as I tried not to push the door too quickly and bowl over the little old lady in the section ahead of me, I finally made it into the store and proceeded to trip over the black doormat and fall flat on my face. It was a proper slow-mo-style sprawl a la Carrie Bradshaw in the Dior store in Paris. Bags went flying, the contents of my purse embarrassingly began to roll down the stairs…
It was at this point I had to wonder why I had been in such a hurry. Sure, the little old lady was walking painstakingly slowly through the revolving door, but all up it would have been a difference of just a few seconds, so what difference did it make? I had nowhere that I needed to be, nothing I had to do. Entering Barnes and Noble had been on a whim, not for any urgent purpose. I was just cold and couldn’t yet face peak hour subway traffic where I would inevitably end up face-first in some guy’s armpit.
I hurriedly picked up my bags and repacked my purse, tampons and all, and proceeded down the escalator towards the magazine and Starbucks section for a coffee (because clearly I needed to be even more hyped up than I already was).
As I paid for my double tall soy latte whilst simultaneously entered it as a “snack” entry in my calorie-tracking app and “checking in” to the Barnes and Noble, I was still pondering the unnecessary urgency with which I approach each day and yet still experience that nagging feeling that there is something missing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I love NYC and I have amazing friends and family, but I realized something wasn’t quite right...
NYC provides an energy unlike any other place I’ve experienced. You feel like you can do anything, conquer the world… and yet I realized I have been passively feeding off of the energy of the city rather than actively using that energy to better myself. I decided then and there to harness the energy of NYC to better myself. Each week I will try something new, get out of my comfort zone, enhance my body, my mind or my community in some new way.
This week, I will learn Italian.
Forsaking the racks of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar, I headed to the Languages section of
Barnes & Noble and found ‘Italian for Dummies.’ Yep… Really.
I took out my spiral notebook which thusfar had been filled with restaurant names, unlabelled random phone numbers, hastily-prepared budgets to justify my latest financial lobotomy, and other equally useless doodle-style entries, and I started to read and take notes - pronunciation, basic greetings, and for something a little meatier, conjugation of the verb ‘to have.’
For the first time in weeks, my mind focused entirely on one thing. It felt indulgent and
luxurious, but there was something else in there I hadn’t experienced for a while. I felt truly satisfied. For the first time since graduating from university, I was developing a new skill and bettering myself.
All up I sat for an hour. I didn’t purchase the book (sorry, B&N…). If I know I have to stop into the bookstore to learn the next chapter, I’ll actually do it. If I buy the book, it will always be at home and on hand… This makes it very easy to “do it later” (i.e. never).
Each evening this week after work I went to Barnes & Noble for an hour before catching the subway to go home. I find myself trying to apply the phrases I learnt into my everyday life (just in my head, mind. The last thing the world needs is another wannabe Italian), and when I have a few minutes on the subway or bus I look over my flashcards rather than working mindlessly on my Fruit Ninja skills. Already, my brain feels less frantic and more focused. One week. I have not lost any time with the hour I spend at Barnes and Noble each night. No other important aspect of my life has suffered. My gym routine still stands, I cook dinner and socialise with my friends and get to sleep at a reasonable hour. I’m not even sure what exactly I used to do with that hour.
I’m not saying I don’t still tap my toes impatiently or multitask to the point of absurdity, but I’m becoming more self-aware and beginning to take some of that wasted energy and putting it towards something positive and productive.
Life has so much more to offer than status updates and self-inflicted generalized anxiety disorder. Perhaps you’d like to join me as I challenge myself to try something new each week…
Ciao for now!
Jessica Hill is originally from Sydney, Australia and is currently based in NYC. Since graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics), she has been developing a mathematics website with the aim of providing universally-affordable and accessible study aids that boost achievement and interest in mathematics. She is passionate about exploring the evolving role of technology in education and in developing positive online communities that inspire creativity and encourage the sharing of ideas and knowledge.