Crimson Tide: Celebrating one year at work in Boston

It was about this time yesterday in 2012 that I boarded an Amtrak train at Newark Penn Station, with two suitcases and a backpack, both unceremoniously crammed, to head to Boston. Of course, because I had somewhere to be at a certain time (I had my first day of work tomorrow) and because it was an Amtrak train, there was a delay. The train, which had already departed a half-hour late, was held up for at least an hour in Connecticut on account of some fire or other disturbance on the track ahead. Some kid, fuming at her mother the entire trip, decided it would be a great way to get back at her mom by herself in the handicap bathroom and spend the time the train was stopped in Connecticut dramatically screaming, "We're gonna die in here!"

There was one gentleman seated near me about whom I remember only a few details. When the train stopped and the girl started screaming, he chuckled for a few moments at the scene, checked his watch once (and only once), breathed deeply, and went back to reading the Sunday Times. Getting a little sucked into the girl's mania, feeling my stomach clench and nerves begin to fray from being inside the train longer than I'd anticipated, I remember wondering, "How is he so calm about all of this?"

My past year, much like that train ride, has been a lesson in control. More appropriately, it's been a lesson in letting go.

The only thing of which I was totally certain when I moved up here was my job. I didn't have a place to live and didn't really know anyone else up here since all my college friends relocating to Boston for school or new jobs wouldn't arrive until August or September. On June 25--just one week before my start date of July 2--I got my offer from HBS. But even that wasn't really certain: if my boss felt like kicking me off his service after the 3-month review period, it was well within his bounds to do so. (This was something about which I couldn't help but think).

Anxiety about "making it" right out of the gate from graduation, making friends, finding a place to live in Boston, cutting those ties from my parents that I couldn't really sever while attending college in my home state, and anxiety about just about everything consumed me. I was letting myself live by a new variation on the themes I'd lived with my entire life: fear of failure, fear of not being loved, fear of never finding freedom, and above all, fear of being "broken".

To assuage the anxiety, I sought to take control, but the more control I tried to take, the more out of control I felt. This resulted in less-than-ideal living situations, a handful of bad experiences with boys, pounds gained, tears shed, and, on top of it all, sheer exhaustion that I would discover was caused in part by celiac disease. At the end, there was no anxiety anymore, no worrying about the future. It was just depression. Purely being stuck in the past and living in fear. That's not to say there weren't awesome things going on in my life in Boston all the time since I'd moved up here--I just couldn't see them. Rather, I was choosing not to see them (or if I did see them, not value them as strongly) and instead let myself be blinded by a black and blue worldview.

One year since I moved up here, I'm starting to get the picture that I'm seriously blessed. The best moments of my year were those when I really went with the flow (and against my control impulse) and let life unfold in front of me. The only thing I can and really need to control is how I see the world and frame situations. Everything else, I'm learning, will work itself out.

It's not that I was never grateful. But the gratitude never really moved from my conscious to sink into my subconscious. I've been fortunate enough to have found a coach who, in our first meeting on May 22, got me into the habit of (and holds me accountable to) writing a list of at least ten things I am grateful for every day. And on my one-year anniversary of starting work up here, I couldn't pick a better day to share a list.

July 2, 2013: Gratitude list

I said goodbye to my psychiatrist today. I'm off of all the antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication for what I believe is for good. It took four years, but I'm clean.
I have an incredible cohort of friends in Boston, many of whom I met in the past year--I even met a gluten-free friend today, at long last! And I've been able to strengthen my friendships with those whom I knew before coming up here.
I have incredible doctors at Longwood who, though they took me a year to find, are real cheerleaders for my health and are helping my get the celiac disease and accompanying conditions under control.
One of my best friends from college is coming to visit me tomorrow for one of Boston's best holidays--the others being St. Patrick's Day and Patriots' Day/Marathon Monday.
Even though I was tired, sore from a shot, and strung out from two busy days of catching up and getting readjusted to life in Boston, I went to get a haircut even though it was the last thing I felt like doing or felt like I deserved to do for myself this afternoon. But I did it and it was so worth it.
I traveled to China for work, the thing I desperately wanted more than anything else when I started this job one year ago.
I get to drink clean water and breathe clean air (barring the occasional smokers I pass)--these were simple pleasures, hell, necessities, I yearned for while in China.
Even though I need to find a new place to live in under 60 days, I feel like I've made a home for myself in Boston and I love this city.
I made the time and found a moment of peace to write a blog post today.
I've officially been keeping my blog for over one year. That's just awesome.

With that, thank you to all of you who have loved and supported me in my transition to Boston, and special thanks for those who have been reading my blog. The journey continues :)