The 5 Lessons I Learned in 2018
2018 was a year of major shifts professionally and personally for me. There were some incredible highs, but also many moments of uncertainty, frustration, and vulnerability. But through the ups and down, I learned a lot. I’m recapping the top five lessons from that last twelve months that I’m taking with me into the New Year.
Lesson 1: You are allowed to change
At the end of April 2018, I did what was once unthinkable: I left my dream job. In late 2015, I decided I wanted to become a SoulCycle instructor. Despite having zero fitness instruction experience, despite having a terrible fear of public speaking, despite not being a great rider, I fought and worked as hard as I possibly could in order to make my dream a reality. It took a year to make it happen (two auditions, and two rounds of the ten week training program), but in December 2016, I finally made it happen. I became a SoulCycle instructor.
Let me tell you something, folks. The year leading up to that moment, and then year and a half after, were completely transformational. I cherish my SoulCycle journey because it truly helped shape me into the woman I am today.
I was challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally every day. I had to face and conquer several fears. I learned to fight for what I was passionate about, even if that meant hearing no several times along the way.
But here’s the thing- we are ever growing, ever changing. And our dreams evolve with us. About a year into teaching, I realized that I wasn’t getting the joy out of being an instructor that I thought I would. In fact, I was starting to dread it. I was exhausted in more ways than one, and I felt like there was more opportunity for me personally in pursuing my own business. It took some time to grapple with that uncomfortable feeling, but I finally worked up the courage and left SoulCycle this past April after almost a year and a half of teaching.
It’s a really terrifying thing to try and come to terms with the fact that the thing you gave years of your life to, that you put blood, sweat, and tears into, is something you no longer want. But I learned the valuable lesson that just because you worked really hard to get somewhere, doesn’t mean you have to stay there. And it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.
We all know the saying “it’s the journey, not the destination”, and as fucking corny as that sounds, it’s true. Being a SoulCycle instructor, in the end, wasn’t for me, but the lessons it taught me and the way it shaped me was absolutely invaluable.
Lesson 2: Don’t sit in your mistakes
In June 2018, the lease of my studio apartment in Midtown, NY that I had lived in for two years was up, and I decided it was time to move. I didn’t love the neighborhood, and I didn’t love the apartment. In fact, the only reason I had originally moved in there was because that’s where my ex-BF lived when I moved in with him in 2015, and when we broke up, I took over the lease. I decided I wanted more space, and I was making more money, so I had my heart set on making an upgrade.
I spent a good amount of time researching apartments on Street Easy. I grew up in NYC, and I’ve always lived in Manhattan, but I was open to exploring Brooklyn and therefore potentially finding a place with more space.
I’ll never forget finding the listing for a two bedroom apartment in Flatbush, BK. It was BEAUTIFUL! A spacious open layout, a brand new buidling, tons of natural light, and a huge terrace. The apartment of my goddamn dreams. I made an appointment to see it (the only apartment I saw in person, FYI), and the next day, I was sending in applications, signing papers, and submitting the deposit. I tend to make decisions and move quickly, and this was no exception.
I moved into my beautiful, brand new apartment at the end of May 2018, and was so excited. It felt like my first “big girl” apartment. I hired an interior design team, and for the first time in my life, spent time and money decorating the place, aka not buying every single piece from craigslist or Ikea like I have my whole life.
After the chaos of settling in though, I came to realize that I was quite far away from Manhattan. Further than I had realized. Though I was only a quick walk to the subway, due to the amount of stops and also how slow the train moved, it would take me at least forty-five minutes, if not an hour, to get into Manhattan for meetings, events, dates, workout classes, etc. And if I had to take an uber to/from Manhattan for whatever reason (ie don’t want to show up to an event sweaty in the summer, or going home late after a night out), it would easily cost me $30-$40 per ride.
On top of that, I began to also realize that there was nothing in my neighborhood. I couldn’t walk to a local coffee shop to get some caffeine or to sit and do work. There wasn’t a decent grocery store nearby. There were no workout classes within walking distance. And all my friends lived far away.
And I was also coming to terms with the fact that I had signed a lease for an apartment that was real expensive, and to be honest, I think too expensive for me. It wasn’t a smart financial decision.
I felt this growing knot in my stomach that I had made the wrong choice moving here.
So I got back on Street Easy, started looking at apartments in Manhattan, and quickly found a teeny tiny, but oh so cute, studio apartment in the East Village. I broke my lease (and certainly paid for it, ouch), sold a bunch of the furniture I had just bought, packed up all my things for the second time this year, and got my butt back to Manhattan.
Yes, it cost me both time and money. But I trusted my gut, and I can’t tell you how unbelievably right this decision was. I have felt so incredibly happy since coming back into Manhattan. Though of course I didn’t know it at the time, I made the mistake of moving to a place that wasn’t right for me. Perhaps I should have done more research before hastily signing the papers and falling in love with the apartment before spending time in the neighborhood. But it was a valuable lesson to learn that we don’t have to sit in our mistakes.
So mess up. Make all the mistakes. But then DO something about it!
Lesson 3: Comfort does not equal love
I am open about a lot of parts of my life on here, but when it comes to the romantic aspect, I tend keep things pretty general out of respect for the other person. I’ve shared the fact I’ve been in relationships, I’ve also shared that I’ve gone through break ups, but that’s usually the extent of the information.
But to shed a little more light on an important lesson that I learned this year, I want to ask you something:
If you have to practically force someone to say that they love you, do you think that they actually love you?
I’m going to guess that most people will answer “no” to this one.
My last relationship, which ended in August 2018, was something much different in my head than it was in reality. I think I thought it was something more than it truly was. I thought there was real love there when there wasn’t. I thought there was a future when there were numerous red flags that that wasn’t possible.
And because I had manipulated myself into feeling comfortable in this relationship, I also tricked myself to ignore the warnings, I gave second chances when I really shouldn’t have, and fabricated love when it truly wasn’t there.
If you’re constantly giving and not getting in return, it’s not love. If you’re comfortable with the idea of it, but the not the execution of it, it’s not love. And if after a year of being together, it pains them to say “I love you” for the first time, and every “I love you” after that feels clunky, awkward and unsure… baby girl, that ain’t love.
Lesson 4: Being nice isn’t always what’s best for you
I was on a flight from NYC to Arizona a few months ago. I was boarding the plane and approaching the aisle seat. As I began to sit down, I noticed the older man in the middle seat looking at a row ahead, to a woman sitting in the aisle. I turned to him and said, “oh are you guys traveling together? Do you want to sit together?” He smiled and nodded, and so did his wife. I stood up, and traded my aisle seat for the woman’s aisle seat so that the couple could sit together.
A few minutes later, a man approaches me and politely tells me that I’m sitting in his seat. Confused, I turn back to the woman and say, “isn’t this your seat?” Turns out, she did not have the aisle seat, but instead had the goddamn middle seat. She freaking TRICKED me into taking her middle seat, so that she could have the aisle next to her husband.
Now as furious as I was, in the moment I became so flustered with the situation and with everyone else around looking at me, I angrily accepted what had happened, and though I was pissed while saying it, told the woman she could stay where she was. And to be honest, I didn’t want to be a “bitch” for demanding my seat back- despite it being my original seat that I paid for, and it also being a long, five hour flight.
Looking back on the situation now, I’m not mad at anyone except for myself. I didn’t stand up for myself in that moment, and chose to be “nice” instead of doing what was right. Being nice is absolutely a wonderful thing in many situations- the world needs more nice people! But when your niceness gets manipulated, or when your niceness stands in the way of your own needs, it becomes an issue. In 2019, I’ll be keeping the motto “do no harm, but take no shit” top of mind.
Lesson 5: The body is ever changing
I’ve gone through personal and professional changes this year, but on top of it all, I’ve gone through some physical changes as well.
When I was an instructor at SoulCycle, I was teaching anywhere between 1-3 classes a day, 6-7 days a week. If you’re unfamiliar with SoulCycle, the instructor literally does the entire class with all of the riders. I would leave each class having burned 500+ calories. I sweat so much that I could wring out my sports bra and tights as if I had dunked both pieces in a tub of water. Seriously. The amount of energy I was expending was through the roof.
Despite eating a ton, my body could not keep up with the amount of physical intensity I was putting it through. I had all the things that society tells us we should want to have: rock hard abs, a thigh gap, a defined arms. But none of this felt good to me because I was so exhausted all the time.
Since leaving SoulCycle and no longer teaching, and also taking a break from intense exercise in general, I’ve gained weight. My stomach is softer. My thigh gap doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve had to buy new jeans because my old ones don’t fit. And I recently found out that I weigh almost 15lbs heavier than I have most of my life. And you know what?! I FREAKING LOVE IT! Why? Because I feel happier, more rested, and more balanced than I ever have before. Sizing up my jeans, for me, meant I got to size up my life. And I’m damn thrilled about that!
Bonus Lesson: Vulnerability is strength
Looking back on all of my instagram posts from 2018, the ones with the most engagement (ie likes and comments) are the ones that are the most personal. The posts that open up about body issues, like gaining weight post SoulCycle and butt pimples. The posts about major life changes, like shifting careers and being single for the first time in awhile. And topics surrounding cat calling, anxiety, fear, and just real life shit.
It’s scary to share about such personal things, but these moments of vulnerability are where true connection forms. Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing about skincare, and clothes, and travel, but I feel the most successful when women (and some men!) reach out and thank me for discussing topics that are challenging to talk about. Moments where people say, “Hey wait a sec! Me too! I thought I was the only one!”. Moments when someone says, “I really needed this today”.
Vulnerability is scary. But vulnerability is also strength.