If you only get one great love, New York might just be mine.
It’s no surprise that as a twenty-something dreamer meandering the streets of Manhattan, one of my spirit animals is Carrie Bradshaw. Her seemingly fictitious world accurately mirrors the reality we face as New Yorkers and confronts questions we didn’t know we had until we graduated from our adolescence and moved to the Big Apple.
The women she spends her life commiserating with represent many of our own friends we get to navigate through love, loss, and the pressure to fulfill societal standards with. Yet despite the fact that they didn’t survive their dating days during the digital age of Tinder, Instagram and the social media garbage we begrudgingly swipe though today; these women still managed to experience many of the timeless struggles we inevitably face today.
As I recently re-binged the series (it’s available to stream on Amazon Prime — you’re welcome), I found Carrie’s words, lessons, and struggles hitting me differently than they have before. Maybe because I’m getting older? Wiser? More cynical? Regardless, I began writing down her questions, conclusions, and witty quips to share with the rest of my world; because I feel like the seemingly benign and “melodramatic” internal questioning we’re all afraid to own deserves to be met with a little reassurance that we’re not always alone in our thoughts. Here are some of my favorite take-away moments, questions, and lessons penned by Carrie Bradshaw to get you through your week, your year, or your life when you’re in need of a little guidance, commiseration, or perspective.
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Carrie repeatedly revisits self-love throughout the series, specifically within relationships; on a constant quest for a healthy life balanced with love for herself, her friends, her partner…and her addiction to shoes. But how do we ever truly know if and when we’re balanced? As we bravely tiptoe along the tightrope of life, carrying our relationships in one arm, and our self-love in the other, will putting too much weight on one end throw us off balance and eventually be our downfall? To that effect, if leaning too much into our self-love starts to evolve into something unhealthy, is that just as detrimental to our balance as leaning on others to serve as the needle in our barometer for happiness?
I got to thinking about Narcissus – a man so consumed with his own image, he drowned in it. Did he have no best friends to mirror back a healthy review of himself? And why is it that we can see our friends perfectly, but when it comes to ourselves, no matter how hard we look, do we ever see ourselves clearly?
I often wonder what Carrie would have to say about the modern-day selfie; healthy or harmful? Brave or vain?
Is it possible to draw a clear line between confidence and narcissism on our own? Or will we ever be able to impartially evaluate ourselves without the guidance and insight from those around us? And what about those who can’t seem to muster up any bit of self-confidence at all? Can they only see themselves in the reviews that others give them? At the end of the day, is the ability to accumulate compliments for ourselves and owning the best parts of us a blessing or a curse?
To that end, Carrie also weighs-in heavily on our inevitable self-reflection through the eyes of those around us. We can feel so great about ourselves one moment, then defeated the next when someone else doesn’t see exactly what we do; which can quickly generate a laundry list of reasons to doubt our self-love.
Why is it that we only seem to believe the negative things people say about us? No matter how much evidence there is to the contrary — a neighbor, a face, an ex-boyfriend can cancel out everything we thought was once true. Odd, but when it comes to life and love, why do we believe our worst reviews?
I realized that the critic I was most afraid of was me. The truth is, at any given moment, someone, somewhere could be making a face about you. But it’s the reviews you give yourself that matter.
I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic. Those that are old and familiar. Those that bring up lots of questions. The that bring you somewhere unexpected. Those that bring you far from where you started. And those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.
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Because our self-love informs so much of the love we give to others, it inevitably becomes the precursor to a healthy relationship with, not only romantic partners (more on that later), but our friends.
Friendships don’t magically last 40 years. You have to invest in them. It’s like your savings: You don’t expect to wake up one day when you’re old and find a big bucket of money waiting there.
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In a town where everyone’s dying to couple up, sometimes there’s nothing better than being out of a relationship. You have time to do your laundry, freedom to play your favorite bad music really loudly. But the best part about being out of a relationship; plenty of time to catch up with your friends.
Is single life in New York such a constant flurry of fun and friends that settling down immediately fills us with the urge to shake things up again? And why does becoming part of a couple imply settling down?To be in a couple, do you have to put your single self on a shelf?
Relationships, no matter how good, are inevitably a series of compromises. But how much of ourselves should we be willing to sacrifice for the other person before we stop being ourselves? In a relationship, when does the art of compromise becoming compromising?
People say everything happens for a reason. These people are usually women. And these women are usually sorting through a break up. It seems that men can get out a relationships without even a goodbye. But apparently women either have to get married or learn something. Why are we in such a rush to move from confused to Confucius? Do we search for lessons to lessen the pain?
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I realized I had just entered an interesting chapter of my life. I had outgrown the boys of my past and not quite grown into the men of my future.Can you get to a future if your past is present?
Some love stories aren’t epic novels – some are short stories.But that doesn’t make them any less filled with love.
One of the great things about living in New York City is that you don’t have to sugar-coat your feelings. But, have New York women settled for a sugar-free existence as well? We accept Tasty-D-Lite instead of real ice cream, emails instead of love songs, jokes instead of poetry. It’s no wonder that when faced with the real thing, we can’t stomach it. Is it something we can learn to digest, or have we become romance-intolerant?Ever since Woody Allen described waving to Mia Farrow across the park, single men in Manhattan yearn for that kind of separate togetherness. I felt like the last dinosaur. Was I the one that needed to adapt? Was my view of a relationship extinct? I couldn’t stop thinking about it. This is a city where gay men are so out, they’re in. Where women are so chronically single, ovaries may be the next vestigial organ. We can have anything delivered at any hour, we can have our dogs walked, our clothes cleaned, our food cooked. Who needs a husband when you have a doorman?Are New Yorkers evolving past relationships?
Since birth, modern women have been told we can be anything we want; be an astronaut, the head of an internet company, a stay-at-home mom. There aren’t any rules anymore the choices are endless, and apparently they can all be delivered right to your door. But is it possible that we’ve gotten so spoiled by choices that we’ve become unable to make one? That a part of us knows that once you choose something – one man, one great apartment, one amazing job – another option goes away. Are we a generation of women who can’t choose just one from column A? Can we have it all?
In a city of great expectations, is it time to settle for what you can get?
In matters of love, how do you know when it’s right? Sometimes the question is, how do you know when it’s not right?I couldn’t help but wonder, has fear of being alone suddenly raised the bar on faking? Are we faking more than orgasms? Are we faking entire relationships?Is it better to fake it, than be alone?
In New York, they say you’re always looking for a job, a boyfriend, or an apartment. So let’s say you have two out of three, and they’re fabulous. Why do we let the one thing we don’t have affect all the other things we do have? Why does one minus a plus one feel like it adds up to zero?I wondered if “should” was another disease plaguing women. Did we want babies and perfect honeymoons? Or did we think we should have babies and perfect honeymoons. How do we separate what we could do, from what we should do? And here’s an alarming thought – it’s not just peer pressure. It seems to be coming from within. Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?
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Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Without them, what would shape our lives? Perhaps if we never veered off course, we would never fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are.Eventually all the pieces fall into place…until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason.
Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens.
So just love, make mistakes, and have wonderful times. But never second-guess who you are, where you have been, and, most importantly, where it is you are going.