Adventure-ing: Alone In New York

This is Amanda and she is one of my favorite people ever. When she told me about her latest adventure I immediately asked her to write something for the blog. She writes over at The Reality Quotient or you can follow her on twitter @JustJackson. Risks are hard, but so incredibly rewarding. It’s easy to stay in our daily-life bubbles… so much harder to get up and out the door when you are freaked out about what will happen next. That’s why this is such a great story:

One of the things I really love about my job is that I get to travel. During my first week, I trained in San Francisco where I met Lauren, who I soon discovered to be my uncanny counterpart in the universe. Then I got to go to New York City for the first time and ride a subway and eat hotdogs on the street and wear one of those shamefully cheesy I <3 NY hoodies and it was glorious.

So, when I got the opportunity to plan another business trip to the Big Apple, I was definitely excited. Then, a week before my trip, Sandy went all woman scorned, ripping up boardwalks and flooding subway stations and whatnot. The news footage was awful and New Yorkers and New Jers(ians?) were devastated. And I was…terrified.

I may have had a minor meltdown and begged my boss to delay my trip, citing impossible public transportation conditions, a cancelled reservation at a closed hotel, and ohmygosh what if Sandy comes back for more? I begged, I pleaded. Please don’t make me.

Ultimately, I had to answer to my boss’s boss about cancelling a costly trip. It was kind of like when you ask your dad for something, knowing he will say yes. Then he says “ask your mom.” And you’re like…never mind. When I had to explain my objections to the big boss, I was suddenly very embarrassed. I realized I was sounding like a big, ungrateful whiner. “I have to go to Manhattan?! And stay in a fancy hotel? For FREE? Woe is me!!”

And so my pride won over my fear and I went. But not without some considerable pouting and a [possibly subconscious] delay that almost made me miss my flight.

New York City is resilient. She’d bounced back by the time I’d arrived. Besides some stores being shut down near the seaport, the city was going about business as usual.

On the work side of the trip, I got to schmooze with some of the big shots in the company. They were impressed by my insight and my confidence in giving them constructive feedback about recent goings-on.  I learned that the scope of my job is much larger than I thought, and I ended feeling re-energized and excited to get back to the office and put new things into play.

Basically, I owned it.

In the evenings, I was on my own. Oh, hello fear! You again! Alone in New York with the bad guys, and the big crowds, and the people who would surely know I’m an awkward solo girl. On the first night, I elected to stay in.

On Tuesday, I had a talk with my mother. She said she was so proud of me and my new job. Doing all the things she wished she could. Going places! Seeing the world! She was amazed at what a strong, confident woman I’ve become. Little did she know, I’d spent the previous night locked in a 150 square foot hotel room watching Pawn Stars and ordering room service. Mothers always just know what to say, don’t they?

At that I decided to take control of my situation, live up to my name, and stomp out fear.

In that moment everything changed. I navigated the streets and the avenues and the subway tunnels all on my own. I ate alone at bars in fancy restaurants, striking up conversations with strangers. I ordered an appletini because that’s what Carrie Bradshaw would do. I sat by myself in Bryant Park, drinking hot cider and watching ice skaters glide under the Christmas lights. I saw a musical on Broadway. I passed by Henry Winkler on the street, and he laughed at the face I made when I registered that he was The Fonz(!), then he waved at me and smiled. I stood in the middle of Grand Central Terminal and watched thousands of people swirl around me until I was dizzy with pure joy. I had a fall fling with New York City.

I had a beautiful, magical, so unreal, one-week fling with New York City – my greatest adventure yet. And it almost didn’t happen.

What adventures have you allowed your fear or uncertainty to steal from you? (There’s still time!) What great adventures have you had that were nearly missed because you were afraid?

*If you’ve been adventure-ing (New York Big or teensy tiny small) and would like to share, please email me your post or pitch at betterinrealife at gmail dot com.

9 thoughts on “Adventure-ing: Alone In New York”

  1. This sounds like so much fun. I was also afraid to go alone to Paris a few weeks ago (not really alone, I was going to take a night bus alone, then meet up with friends), but in the end I went and it was so totally worth it.
    And now you can say that you lived a historic moment in NY.

  2. I travel alone a fair amount and love doing it, but I have never had a drink or eaten alone (besides in an airport). I can go to museums, movies, shows, etc all by my lonesome and be fine, but for some reason restaurants and bars still make me nervous, even if I think of bringing a book/notebook with me. I usually end up getting fast food and staying in my room. But it’s on my To Do list because it’s something I really want to overcome, so I loved reading your experiences, Amanda!

    1. I had NEVER eaten at a restaurant alone before, either! I don’t know why it’s such an awkward thing. I walked in and out of the first restaurant several times before I committed to sitting at the bar. But, the people were friendly and the place was lively so it felt much more relaxed. I did, however, have to resist the urge to nervously fiddle with my phone the entire time, instead of taking in the experience.

      1. Ooh, yes, the phone is an easy crutch. If I’m at mingling-type parties and don’t have anyone to talk to, I do the “I have something so very important to attend to on my phone right now, thank you very much” thing.

  3. Oh this post is making me CRAVE an alone trip. My first taste of alone travel was when I went to visit a friend in DC during the workweek so I had all day to mozy about the museums on my own. Delightful! These days I like to catch a movie at this theater near my work on my own just cause I can. I used to NEVER be able to do this but I was in a film criticism class in college and there are only so many times you can bribe your friends into seeing mediocre-to-bad films in a semester, so eventually I had to go solo. And the world didn’t end! Now I just totally don’t give a shit if people think it’s weird that I’m alone no matter the location and it is so, so liberating.

    1. Isn’t it so funny how self-conscious we can be about being seen anywhere alone? Like something is wrong with us if we don’t have constant companionship. When most people (especially in New York City) are too busy minding their own business to even notice us at all. Liberating is definitely the right word!

  4. Ha! I love this. I really enjoyed your enthusiasm for it all – mixed with your hilarious inner monologue thoughts! the real life stuff and the scared and the quirky. Way to conquer that trip!

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