November 26, 2017

Home me vs. travel me

Someone said something to me the other day that I can't stop thinking about: I wish I could be the person I am when I travel when I'm home in New York. Does that grammar make sense? I agree. Me too.

I'm lucky, I travel a fair amount—most of the time, I'll go somewhere for work and will bookend the trip with a couple of leisure days before or after. By December, I'll have been to Helsinki, Austin, Philadelphia,  Oxford, Brighton, Aspen, the Hamptons, Los Angeles, Nashville, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taiwan, and back to Oxford, this year alone.

In fact, I wish I could travel more—for so many reasons: the newness, the escapism, the being anywhere else other than at the office, the being anyone else besides my everyday self. This year, international travel has felt especially cathartic—things don't seem quite as dire abroad as they do in the States right now.

Even though I live in New York City (where lots of people from all over the world come on their vacations), I think it feels to me just like home feels like to anyone, anywhere. I grew up here, I work 14-hour days here, I commute here, I eat here—every. single. day. For decades.

Here are some disjointed thoughts I'd probably try to connect better in prose if I were writing this on someone else's platform:

Last week, fresh off a 12-hour flight, I popped over to my friend's house for a belated birthday dinner party (it was sweatpants and pizza themed—the best party theme, ever). We've known each other since we were kids, 13-year-olds, before and after the advent of internet, email, social media, iPhones, and data-driven everything. She's a research scientist and university professor, and her work couldn't be more different to the industry I work in, but we both have the same problem: too much to do. We both love our jobs, we love doing all the things associated with our jobs, but there's just too much. During our conversation I heard myself say something out loud that I've been repeating to myself for years, without ever truly actualizing: We can't control the work, but we can control our reactions.

I've been thinking a lot over the past few months about giving myself permission to let go: of stress, the onus of responsibility, emails, endless to-to lists. The most important priority in my work life is revenue and succeeding as a business. All the other "priorities" we're tasked with need to be prioritized. It's not possible to run after 25 things at once and expect to do any of those things well (or even correctly).

My energy ebbs and flows in an extreme cadence. I work very hard during the week—most days starting around 5 a.m. at my desk in front of my computer, and usually working until 6:30 or 7 p.m., or whenever I can no longer see the words on the screen in front of me. I lead a team, I make decisions every hour, I put all my creative mind power and energy into my work, collaborating with other departments in the building. On the weekends I'm a puddle. I rarely leave my apartment, I try to avoid speaking to other people, I move as little as possible, I order food delivery on Seamless, maybe I'll do some online shopping.

I wish I could be the person I am when I travel when I'm home in New York. Mostly, when I think about this idea, I think about a feeling. When I'm traveling I feel free, inspired, creative, and happy. Somehow I need to find a way to feel that way, even during those weeks I'm on the ground.