“The Greatest City in the World” and What It Taught Me (Weeks 3-10)

So much for my big plans to blog every week… but here I am with a clear mind (and schedule) ready to recap my second New York summer. As mostly an end-of-an-era style reflection for myself, here are my top 3 bullet points of what worked, what didn’t work, and what I learned.

What Worked

  1. My Internship. If we’re being honest, internships can really be a crapshoot. I have never been asked to get coffee for someone, but on my first day in the city I saw a young man (presumably an intern) on a coffee run for what must have been his entire office. Unfortunately for him, it seemed like he had never ordered coffee in his life, since he had no idea throw to answer any of the barista’s standard questions about his lengthy order. And when he finally got all of his coffee, he walked outside and (bless his heart) he didn’t know where he was going. I watched him try to balance all eight of his coffee cups on a nearby trash can so that he could fish his phone out of his backpack and look for directions. I’m sure that it is totally possible for him to start here and work his way up to great success, but I thank my lucky stars to have had an internship at BAA that fulfilled me so much more. I am incredibly grateful for the multitude of hands-on opportunities I had to learn and grow, and also the chances to apply my skillset and gain confidence.

  2. My Faith. Over the past few months, I have been on a quest to read the Bible every day. I feel like as a Christian I have a duty to engage critically with the book we profess as divine truth, and I’d personally like to read it before I do that. And this summer I didn’t fall behind! I also got to attend Redeemer West Side on many Sundays and joined a small group for summer interns! I was really thankful to have that fellowship to look forward to every Wednesday, especially since I couldn’t make it to church every Sunday. I feel like I have spent a few years in an in-between state of mind with my faith, believing in God but unsure of how the Bible can and should be applied to my life. This summer proved to be a very productive one in terms of taking action to get out of that mindset and into certainty.

  3. My Routine. Toward the end of last school year, I concocted an obscenely long morning routine in an attempt to accomplish more things that were never urgent enough to be put on a to-do list, but I wished would get done nonetheless. My 3-4-5 method is as follows: Pray, Make bed, Drink a glass of water; Bible study, Write in a gratitude journal, Exercise, Shower; Breakfast, Read News, Meditate, Read something else, Study Spanish. This routine in its entirety can take 2-3 hours if not more, so it should go without saying that I was unable to complete it every day this summer. However, it was still very nice to have a list of things I could do if I had extra time in the mornings. Apart from that morning structure, I really appreciated the daily structure necessitated by my work hours. The nature of a “work day” is not very comfortable or familiar to me, but this summer I relied on its broad regularity to help feed my desire for routine, and it definitely allowed me to be more productive, organized, and focused.

What Didn’t Work

  1. My Social life. I had long days, y’all. Like get-up-at-seven-don’t-get-home-until-eight days. And at the end of those days, embracing my truest introvert self, I really just wanted to come home and go to bed. I often lacked even the energy to return texts from old friends, let alone hang out with new ones, which I definitely regret. I had always heard that the city could be isolating, and I didn’t believe it until I experienced the exhaustion that made it so. But here we are and I know I can keep working in the future.

  2. My Top Chef Dreams. Since this summer was my first time living alone with a kitchen, I had big plans. But alas, New York said, “No ma’am” and gave me lots of dollar pizza, to which I replied, “Grocery store?” But New York just looked at me and said, “Peanut butter and jelly only. You have no time to cook.” And I said, “Wow, New York, you’re right.” So thank goodness lunch was catered every day at work.

  3. My Free Time. It should be abundantly clear by this point that I didn’t have any free time, which was definitely part of the problem. The other part is that when I did have time, I was still lacking energy. I’d like to say that I spent my summer living my best life and exploring the city like I did last year, but that would be a lie. A more accurate statement would be to say that I watched a lot of TV… But I can’t even say it was a lot of TV because on most days I could only get through one episode of Grey’s Anatomy before being ready to hit the hay. Definitely something to work on in the future.

What I Learned

  1. Work Ethic. It’s not that I didn’t have work ethic before, I just didn’t have many places to put it. As a busy college student, I often have a lot of things competing for my time and attention. This summer, though, was a nice contrast and I often only had 2 or 3 things to think about at once, which allowed me to give each of them my full attention. This gave me more time and energy to spare, which I channeled into saying “yes” to every extra coaching or small transcription I was asked to do. Giving myself more opportunities to succeed was incredibly valuable, and is an attitude I hope to apply to this coming school year.

  2. Self-Forgiveness. In giving myself more opportunities to succeed, I also gave myself more chances to fail, which strengthened my ability to forgive myself for small mistakes. I often think back to my first time playing auditions three years ago, when I took each wrong note as if it was grounds for ruining my entire day, career, and life. I knew that the more I sightread the more comfortable I would be, but I didn’t anticipate the fact that my comfort level would not be linked to my playing ability, but rather to my ability to forgive myself and move on. So I started this summer with goals involving perfect playing, but as soon as I changed my goals to be more closely related with forgiving my inevitably imperfect playing I became much happier… and also better at sightreading! What a shock!

  3. Discipline. With so little time and such an obsession with routine, I had no choice but to be disciplined. I’m hesitant to say I “learned” it because it just snapped into place as a side effect of my lifestyle, but either way having so much to do and so little time really forced me into a new and more focused outlook, which has made me very excited for next year. Speaking of…

For those of you keeping score at home, I am in fact a senior. Yes, it’s crazy. This week I moved into my first apartment and I’m very excited to get back into the swing of classes next week. Stay tuned for what’s coming next year and beyond because let’s be honest I don’t even know. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day :)

Reagan Casteel