New York, New Habits, New Me

Subway Station in Queens, NY
Subway Station in Queens, NY

“Isn’t it wild and intriguing and beautiful to think that everyday we are new?”

-Taylor Swift, Foreword 1989


When I first started drafting this post, it was titled “Well, I’ve Already Embarrassed Myself so I Might as Well Do the Thing Properly”. I get embarrassed easily. It doesn’t matter if it was something silly I said when I was 5 or if you mentioned this blog post to me later today, you could probably see me squirm if you looked close enough. Being embarrassed almost makes me squirm as much as being wrong. I despise being factually wrong and nothing brings the weight of failure like misgauging the reaction of someone I tried to please. I think the discomfort about the past stems from a combination of gained knowledge, experience, and skill. The present is more of a people pleaser thing.

We live in a time where we can spread our thoughts and ideas and feelings with just a few clicks. And they’re hard to get rid of. We simply can’t delete or erase the mistakes that we’ve decided to make public. We are now left with two main options. We can deny, ignore, and justify, or we accept responsibility, evaluate, and conclude. Only one of these options is a champion to true, positive change.

I decided that although grudging tolerance to my past self was all I wanted to accept in the beginning, it wasn’t the most uplifting way to start off my second debut into the blogosphere. My eighteen months in New York was truly a once in a lifetime experience for more reasons than one. As a missionary, I focused on the spiritual progress and wellbeing of others. I was truly happy and had countless experiences where I saw God’s hand in my life. I changed, and I want that change to last forever. With the everyday pressures of life, I sometimes struggle to know how to apply the things I learned on my mission into my new world.

A concept that takes a lot of effort for me is the growth mindset. I can remember when I was in Queens, my friends had me “talk back to negative thinking”. Basically, everytime I said something negative (which was often), I had to resay the thing in a growth mindset kind of way. For example, if I said “I can’t talk to people like a normal person” I would have to change it to more like, “Talking to people isn’t one of my strongest skills, but with practice, I can get better”. It was an exhausting practice, but it worked. I felt like it was something we were always talking about, and one of my leaders in particular was always encouraging us (including her husband) to make sure that we were approaching challenges in a healthy way. I admire her a lot, and the message of the growth mindset stuck. Soon enough, when I was asked to help out with other sister missionaries, I was spouting off the same advice I received, with a testimonial attached.

Talking back to negative thinking was just one of the important daily habits I started as a missionary. We are taught that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6, The Book of Mormon). Many people at least know how to be more successful in life, but struggle to actually do those small and simple things.One of the quotes that had great impact on me in my time in New York I learned early on, but didn’t quite know how to apply until much later:

“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”

― Albert E. Gray

The key of success is right there in the final line of the quote. What is the purpose? Is your purpose bigger than your weakness, your failure? Is it bigger than your pride, your ego? I’ve come to find that if you want to have your purpose bigger than the menial tasks required to accomplish your goal, it has to be bigger than you. I believe that my greatest application to finding purpose is to take the time to see where I’m at, where I want to go, and how I’m going to get there. Regular time to reflect, evaluate, and readjust is essential to reach our full potential.

I started this blog as a recommendation from a high school teacher. I wanted to go into political science and be a writer. Plans changed, I didn’t have a clear vision of my goal, and the blog quickly puttered out. While I still think that being a journalist or a speech writer would be fantastic amounts of fun, that’s not where my main goals are at. Right now I want to write children’s books, and while that might change as well, I think I have enough data to suggest that I have a desire to write something sometime, so I thought it was the perfect time to start learning to be the best writer I can be.

Today I’m grateful for change. It’s our choice that decides if those changes are positive or negative, but we have all the tools that we need for our success. I’m grateful for the habits of peace and happiness, and the opportunities we are given each day. As we learn to harness change, we will be able to see a new way that truly, life is good.

~Ali

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