How to Become An Astronaut Pirate Afraid of Subway Rats

It’s 29 degrees, gray, and snowing in April, making me wonder how the groundhog that saw his shadow could be more accurate than cable news. 

I’m standing on the curb outside Newark Airport, waiting for an Uber driver to wind through an endless tidal wave of yellow cabs and be salvation from the biting wind. 

The trip had already been long enough. What was supposed to be a brief, two-hour nonstop up the East Coast turned into a cross-country adventure with scenic stops in Ohio and Illinois.

On our final leg from Chicago, I started to realize “Welcome to New York” is a bit optimistic… and Taylor Swift probably didn’t arrive in the city intimately wedged between two large Italian men on a bumpy Southwest flight to Jersey.  

But, at long last, we’d arrived! 

My friend and I finally exhale when we manage to Jenga all of our belongings into our Brooklyn-bound chariot. Two millennials were moving to the Big Apple with an even bigger dream… a bit cliche, right? 

Laying in bed that first night though I couldn’t decide what that dream was, not because I didn’t have one, but because I had too many. 

My whole life I’ve struggled to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up… but somewhere between 6 and 26, it becomes less adorable to want to be an astronaut pirate who writes travel guides from the high seas. 

While I’m afraid of drowning and too claustrophobic to be an astronaut, I *have* always had diverse interests and dreams… dreams of being an author, a photographer, a corporate executive turned philanthropist, and management consultant jet-setting around the world solving huge problems. 

Like the bags we haphazardly stacked in the trunk, I tried so hard to figure out a life where all those dreams came true – where I found meaning, purpose, and peace… using every aspect of myself – all before falling madly in love with an airline pilot who also went to culinary school and played the cello. 

Not only was I missing out on the present moment by obsessing about the future, but I also was too busy trying to solve the equation that I wasn’t moving toward any one of those dreams or using any of my gifts. 

Here’s something I’ve come to learn about math. It’s the worst. Also, when you’re trapped inside your head trying to “solve-for-x” all you’re doing is missing out on the only thing you genuinely have… the present. 

The real solution is the understanding career, love, and life itself is not about figuring out what’s forever, but about what’s first. 

So, out of all your dreams, all the aspects, and interests that makeup who you are, which one are you going to try next? Whether it’s a job, a person, or a place, the beautiful thing is if it doesn’t work you have the freedom to try something else. 

Stop the math. You are not a formula… so stop seeing yourself as an algorithm and start allowing yourself to move on and try new things. 

It doesn’t mean it won’t be scary… in a lot of ways, I’m afraid! New York is daunting and expensive, and the subway rats are enormous. 

I think in different seasons words mean different things. And in this one, “brave” is merely doing what’s next… starting with going to buy a parka because a damn groundhog saw his shadow.