Perception: Life Lessons from Solo Moments in New York
I was living in New Jersey and I had moved from a small town in upstate New York for work. My job required me to travel to the Manhattan corporate office on Third Avenue in the 40s.
When I came out of Penn Station, I opted to walk to the office because I was too afraid to take the subway. I didn’t take a taxi either because to get one meant survival of the fittest and I didn’t feel very fit.
So I started walking north a few blocks before turning east. I was crossing a major intersection with loads of people. One guy, who was crossing in the opposite direction, was carrying a closed umbrella under his arm horizontally. This was not a tiny travel umbrella. Rather, it was full size with a hook at the top. Because the hook was horizontal it caught onto the shoulder strap of my attaché bag. The man was unaware that he was pulling me backwards through the intersection until I said, “Let go, let go.” He and his friend realized what was happening and stopped to unhook me. Then his friend quipped, “That’s the best thing you’ve caught in a long time!” We all laughed.
I never expected to have fun in New York City. I was too busy being scared. Yet I realized from this incident that my fear was out of proportion. It helped me to recognize that fear can change the way I perceive everything. I could look at something as unknown and scary or new and exciting. It was a choice not a given.
Though I was only in my 20s at the time, shortly thereafter, I left my corporate job and plunged into my own training and consulting business. That put me on the road to traveling throughout the United States; until then I had never been out of the Northeast. I was a young, single female business owner, traveling solo at a time when hotels didn’t have skirt hangers, ironing boards, or hair dryers. Business travel was designed for men.
I am still self-employed as a people-skills expert, teaching and speaking all over the U.S. on customer service, teamwork and change. I have been traveling for this work for 20 years, and I still think of that day in New York City when I went from being scared to feeling empowered.
Unhook yourself from what’s holding you back
so you’ll have energy to latch onto your dreams.