Can you help me restore myself to myself?
July 17, 2010 5:16 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me restore myself to myself?
I've recently moved from NYC to Buffalo, my long-term relationship ended and I've started a new job.

I'm a newly admitted lawyer working a law job, but not practicing. I haven't found an attorney position -- partially because I'm not confident and partially because the bottom fell out of the legal market. I'm glad to be in Buffalo rather than NYC (at this time); I live near nature which helps with the heartbreak, plus the city itself is less competitive and less draining for me. This currently feels comfortable but could become ossifying.

Before law school I was an artist and that was my raison d'etre, though I lacked faith in myself, in spite of fledgling success and praise. Now I'm 33, unhappy and borderline lost. The people in my life through work and living situation are young, 20s, early 20s, and I do not like what I see when they reflect me back to myself.

I miss my boyfriend. He was full of light and optimism and shared my raggedy aesthetic, but he does not want to be my man. I need some help finding my own light, becoming someone I can appreciate and admire, not a disappointed example of what happens to smart girls who make poor career, relationship, life decisions. By the way, I'm in therapy, but ever floundering...
posted by turtlewithoutashell to Human Relations (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry for clunky formatting. This is my first ever post. I didn't realize the entire content would show.
posted by turtlewithoutashell at 5:22 AM on July 17, 2010

Get back into the arts!!! The arts and cultural scene (especially along Elmwood and Delaware) is exploding in Buffalo with new galleries opening all the time, big theatre events like Curtain Up! and the Infringement Festival becoming bigger every year, etc.

It's all still in its infancy though and still has that exciting "newness" that makes it feel like you're on the ground floor of it all. So join in the fun! Start creating again! Get an online portfolio! Keep it under a pseudonym if you want to keep separate from your legal career! Go to gallery showings, meet the artists (and especially the gallery owners) and network network network, and when you're ready to present some of your own work, don't hesitate!

It's a really exciting time to create art in Buffalo. get out and see all the awesome, and then go contribute to it!

And heck, I know I'm going to be looking for a lawyer myself in Buffalo when I get closer to incorporating my theatre company (in the next month or so) and I'd love to have someone who genuinely understands art. But that's a whole 'notha story. MeMail me if you want....
posted by cvp at 5:41 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might want to do a quick addendum to your post and actually ask a question... what is it you're looking for from us?
posted by HuronBob at 5:44 AM on July 17, 2010

I agree that it's tough to find a question here. Otherwise, it sounds like you're coping with a lot of change all at once. It's normal for that to be stressful. Let yourself settle into your new life before you start critiquing it.
posted by jon1270 at 5:51 AM on July 17, 2010

Don't be disingenuous. The poster's question is in the second to last question of the post. So, how DOES one find "one's own light"?

The first thing is to quit judging yourself. You have a job. You like where you live. You are younger than you think you are, and you are fresh from heartbreak which is coloring your perspective.

We like to think we are in total control of our lives, but God orders our steps. I think now is the time to consider that there is purpose in where you are now, and you should encourage yourself to look for it. It's there.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:17 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Volunteer. Work hard to make other people better, smarter, healthier, happier, safer. Stay in therapy, take what time you need to keep yourself comfortable and sane, but focus on being of use to others. You will add to the world's good, meet like-minded, good-hearted people, see yourself in a clearer perspective, and find pride in yourself and what you can do.

"I'm not much of a philosopher, but as far as I can see there are two philosophies in the world. The one is to make one's self happy, and the other is to make other people happy. The latter answers the best." -- Anthony Trollope, The Prime Minister
posted by Srudolph at 6:18 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this helps, but why don't you go to metachat and make a Buffalo meetup? Make some new friends!
posted by cestmoi15 at 6:36 AM on July 17, 2010

BTW, to get the most out of therapy, treat it like a dyed-in-the-wool miser would treat any expensive payment: "BY GOD, if I'm going to pay this much, I'm going to milk this thing for all it's worth!"

Work hard on it. Force yourself to be absolutely, terrifyingly honest with your therapist. Review what was said, uncovered, decided during your visits, so you can work on these points* throughout the week until your next visit. (* I favor Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and so I actually get "homework" when I go.)

Then... pat yourself on the back for all the real, courageous gains you've made. You moved! To a new city! Left behind a boyfriend who makes your heart ache, but not in a good way! You're a professional in a difficult profession! My god, girl; you're amazing!

(Hi from Erie. Enjoy Buffalo! I moved here from CT 6 mos ago.)
posted by IAmBroom at 6:59 AM on July 17, 2010

You're in a new city. Learn about Buffalo. Get to know it's neighborhoods, it's history. The Erie Canal starts there, right ...

Learn as much as you can in your new job, even if your actual position isn't very interesting.

Can you do some volunteer lawyering? It's not that people need lawyers less nowadays. it's that they can't afford them. It might just be a few hours a week, since you have to work for a living first, and it might be mostly boring landlord-tenant stuff, but it will help you keep on your toes about lawyering. (And cvp's suggestion was interesting - maybe artists have more interesting problems.)

Take advantage of the situation you're in. Always learn as much as you can. And like jon1270 says, give it time.
posted by nangar at 7:10 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just sent you a MeMail.
posted by Diskeater at 7:26 AM on July 17, 2010

I went through a similar situation about a year ago - moved from Chicago to NYC, relationship ended upon arrival, didn't know a single person here. What helped me was exploring the city, and exploring the world around me (I'd lived in Chicago my entire life before that!) Since I'm an actor, I was able to fully throw myself into theater and make so many friends and start creating my new life that way.

I don't know anything about Buffalo, but if it's anything like Chicago's art scene I'm sure there's a nice little community of artists that get together and meet and share stories, after coming home from their day job. I'd suggest looking into that to help you get into things.

Give it time girl. Greener pastures are just around the corner.
posted by leo. at 7:49 AM on July 17, 2010

Wow, your story is bizarrely similar to mine (except I moved from Buffalo to another, smaller city).

Seconding making the best of the city you're in, also taking this time to do the stuff you've always wanted to do, reconnect with old friends, and focusing on what you like about your job. I'm a compulsive list-maker and that helped with all of those.

If it helps at all, a year out, I'm doing so much better - I floundered for a bit but eventually you get to a point where you're hanging out at your place, doing your thing, and realize that without knowing it you have become comfortable in your own skin again.

Buffalo's kind of a diamond in the rough, there are great things about the city but you sort of have to seek them out. Maybe that can be your first project?

Feel free to MeMail me if you want a sympathetic ear.
posted by AV at 9:47 AM on July 17, 2010

Feeling bad is unavoidable; feeling bad about feeling bad is totally optional.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:11 AM on July 17, 2010

Moving and ending a relationship and starting a new job at the same time is REALLY TOUGH. (I did it once, one of the hardest nine months of my life.) Cut yourself slack. You're probably extra-critical of yourself while also struggling with a grief that makes you less able to "accomplish things." You have a minimal support system. So, as much as possible, defer judgment and self-critiquing; identify tiny goals that you can achieve; and praise yourself for what you do. Just carrying on with paying bills can be a huge accomplishment at a time like that.
posted by salvia at 1:43 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just thought I'd add that summer in Buffalo is wonderful and you should take advantage. Spending time outdoors will help your serotonin and give you time to think. So take walks in Delaware Park, go to the zoo, go to Shakespeare in the Park, Thursday at the Square, walk around Elmwood. Best wishes, you'll get through this.
posted by kat518 at 3:33 PM on July 17, 2010

Are you kidding? Your life sounds awesome to me. You're a lawyer AND an artist, you're 33 years young, living in Buffalo? You're already living the life that many people dream about.

You don't sound like a girl who's made poor life decisions to me. You sound like someone I'd like to have as a friend. Your boyfriend sounds like a fool for breaking up with you.

You're in the prime of your life, you realize this? You're still an artist, you just have a day job now like many, many, many (most) artists. 33 is not light years away from these "early 20s kids" you're comparing yourself to. You're still young, smart, and talented, and you have a leg up on them in life experience. You're in the prime of your life to meet someone fantastic who will jump at the chance to be with an intellectual, artistic, loyal, and modest(!) woman.

You're not a failed painting that got tossed out. You're not a blank canvas. You're a work in progress, and you've already got a beautiful picture to work with. Is any painting ever really finished? Just because you're not finished doesn't mean you're not already a masterpiece by someone's standards. Now it's just a matter of filling in the little details and shadings, and selling it! So sell yourself, lady, because you have nothing to be ashamed of. Frame yourself better! Okay, enough with the art metaphors. But really, you're your own worst critic.
posted by Nixy at 4:46 AM on July 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

This article had a lot of wisdom about moving from NY->BUF for artistic/urban souls.

Where the Urban Dream Life Is Going Cheap
posted by lalochezia at 8:42 AM on July 18, 2010

Thank you everybody for so much positivity. It's just what I needed.
posted by turtlewithoutashell at 9:29 AM on July 18, 2010

Nixy, I love you. I will marry you this instant, regardless of gender.
posted by Sutekh at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

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