Beautiful sunny sunday as I look out over the tops of buildings, 160 feet off the ground. 17th floor in a high-rise along the river in Manhattan has its advantages; quiet from the double pane windows and being removed from the real core of the island with all its squabbling and craziness.
I remember twenty years ago I had arrived to this same room I am in now from college in Vermont. I had chosen to leave mid junior year because of it's over price and lack of focus. Yearning to be out in the real world and away from the pompous pretention of discussing life from the top of a mountain, here I was... crash landed on to concrete, away from the community I had loved in that crazy forest fishbowl.
If I had one sadness from back then it would be my 20s. Most people in their 20s here in Manhattan experience a wild ride of career beginnings, advancement, wild night life, clubs, parties, a continuation of the roller coaster of puberty now in beginning adulthood.
For me, when I crash landed in manhattan I was beginning my 20s, but I had spent 10 years prior living in hard core debauchery... testing my limits, perception and after 10+ years of partying, drinking, pot and other wild mind blowing substances, my body was tired. I had grown up. So my 20s were the transition of cleaning myself up, working hard and creating music.
This is wonderful, and a decision I do not regret. Health and fitness is a beautiful thing, and cleaning myself up was an act of love. My sadness, and what made it the worst years of my life was its isolation. The only "friends" I had were just partying, drinking buddies. Idiots that had serious problems and refused to clean themselves up. Some overdosed and died, others just got more and more angry, and unhealthy. When I made my decision to clean up, I had to pull away from them and let them go. So for the first time in my life since I was a boy, I was facing the world sober. All of my social skills had come from being drunk or high, and I felt the worst fears and social anxiety. There were no meetups.com or anything like that, and in hind sight, I probably should have cleaned myself up with some kind of group like AA. Might have made the transition easier, and made new friends that understood my struggles.
Instead the only socializing I saw were the crowded, packed sports bars where everyone new each other, and of course were getting drunk.
I was alone. And Im a social guy! Those years of isolation were horrible. I spent much of the time playing music which helped and eventually I began dating again which got me out and socializing again. I moved back to Vermont, and then Louisiana, got married. And even though the marriage failed those journeys helped me get perspective on those difficult years. Now because of ailing parents I am back in the same city, 160 feet off the ground in a beautiful tower overlooking this concrete silly place.
The social anxiety never went away and is still here. There is so much I want to do with my life, but the thought of one step out the door to do it, floods me with a wave of fear. I am not a quitter and I know that we all struggle with a battle of some kind. It is part of the human condition, and it builds strength. This is my struggle. So much of my life is wonderful and I am so happy to be here on this beautiful Earth.
And so I fight this demon with each day. And with all the resources the internet has to offer, it's not like those dark years 20 years ago. Meetups is a fun resource, and timeoutNY is great too. Dating is super easy now with online dating, and I have family here that I feel comfortable with to go out and explore places with. I've decided, and committed to making a list of all the things I want to do here in NY, a kind of micro-bucket list. I'm going to do something new and social each weekend, whether it's a class of some kind, drinks at a bar, a new restaurant etc. I can beat this thing. The world is a great place, and life is to be lived! Sure I lost my 20s in sadness, but it was meant to be, maybe I needed the time to reflect and process the major and positive changes I was going through. Sure it's unconventional, and not what most people do in their 20s but I've never lived life like anyone else or the norms.
Life moves very fast. I want to enjoy it while I can. So for everyone suffering from decisions in their past, or anxieties don't give up. Know that deep down you love yourself and are just trying to do what's best for you, and there are resources out there to help if you need it. Life is what you make it, so don't let the negative thoughts late at night get to you. It's just reflection, shake it off, do a dance and move on. Tomorrow is a new day.