Monday, November 10, 2014

Pursuit of Self-Confidence

Lately, I have been going back and forth on the idea of ‘finding your true self’ and ‘being who you really are’. I keep coming across these beautiful quotes that I post all over Facebook that help me remember to ‘be myself’. But if one does not know who they really are, how is it possible to ‘be themselves’?
The other day, I texted my mom saying “You know, I think I know where all my sadness and confusion come from. Vladik (my best friend back in Russia) and I spoke about it when I went to Russia a few weeks ago. We were talking about being ‘wannabes’ and how that really affects our lives.” We are the people who want to achieve some specific creative dreams – like being a musician, an artist, a writer – but are unable to. Usually this inability to achieve those dreams is caused not by the lack of skills and talents, but by our own fears. I can’t say that I’m a great artist, writer or musician, but if I were to dedicate myself more to any or all of these activities, I could have probably gotten much better, and much closer to my dreams. However, the thoughts of ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I will fail anyway so why even try’, ‘no one will see what I have done (artistically, musically, etc.) anyway, so why does it even matter’ end up shattering those dreams on the very initial stages.

Today I realized something, hence this post as I will want to return to it. I may never be Dave Grohl from Foo Fighter, or Joan Didion or Dali to other people, but I may become those individuals to my own self. When I start believing in what I do and truly enjoying it, without a goal to impress someone, that will be a dream achieved for me. After all, if you are not confident and happy with what you do, how can you expect others to believe in you? I am 100% sure that none of those people sat around waiting for people to tell them they were good at what they did before they became good. No, they believed in themselves, and they made everyone believe that they were indeed ones of the best. Self-confidence has been a big topic for me for a long time, I keep finding ‘the truth’ and then straying away from it as the fears start popping back in. However, the more I work on it, the sooner I will achieve it. I know I am close, and I know I will keep working on it. I am good enough already and I am great at what I do, even if I am the only one who believes it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Home

I have had quite a few events worth writing about since the last time I posted. I apologize for not being ‘on top of it’ for the past few weeks, but I will try to catch up on at least the most memorable moments. First of all, since my last post was the expression of how I felt right before I went to Russia, of course I would like to write a little bit about the trip.

All in all, the trip turned out to be great. Despite all of my prior concerns, I am actually very happy that I went. I had a wonderful time seeing my family and friends and living the life I used to live eight years ago. While I was there, everything seemed normal – it felt like this life in New York simply did not exist; it felt like I never left Russia. I was in this state on euphoria for almost the entire trip, but it would be periodically interrupted when I needed to interact with people outside of my family/friends circle. See, in Russia you simply cannot ask a sale person a question as their reaction to any question is to stare at you silently for a few seconds as if saying “Did you really just ask me this dumb question?!” and then reply with a three-four-sentence condescending response when all you need is “Yes” or “No”. And the lines. The lines in the stores, pharmacies, at the post office are simply ridiculous. But to be honest, these are the only two things that seemed unusual compared to our lives here. Other than that, I was surprised to see my home city improve quite a bit.

I made it a point of my entire trip to just take things in and enjoy every minute of my visit, and I think I was successful at doing so. Every single day I would find it difficult to believe how much better things got there. At some point, I even started questioning whether there is a possibility that I may come back. But of course these crazy thoughts completely vanished as soon as I stepped my foot of the grounds of JFK International Airport. 

 {My grandma and I - first day of my visit}

 {A view from our apartment window, this is where I grew up}

 {My best friend and I}

{My uncle and two cousins}

Friday, October 3, 2014


As days, and weeks, and months, and years go by, we don’t even notice how our lives constantly change. Just eight years ago, I was transplanted from my home in Russia (together with my mom) and relocated to a country that was unfamiliar and foreign to me. While the U.S. greeted us with warm welcomes, it was impossible to call it ‘home’ even though we knew we were staying here for good. Time went by, friendships were created, accomplishments were made, rewards were earned, and more and more I was starting to accept this life. On those initial steps, I was trying to assimilate, to blend in, to be like everyone else just to feel that I belong. However, a few years later I developed my own strengths and values, and I realized that the world around me started changing to accommodate my personality and values.

Today I am flying to Russia for a ten-day vacation to see my family. The last time I went back was in 2010, right after my Grandpa passed away. The trip was coming at the right time (although I wish it was triggered by different circumstances), I needed to be closer to my family. I was still in college, I did not know what I would do with my life; there were so many uncertainties. I needed to see where I fit in.

This time around, things are different. As wrong as it is to say, but today’s trip feels more like a burden, then a vacation. I’m sure I will feel differently as soon as I see my family and step into my grandma’s apartment. It is, however, interesting that now I have a feeling of going to an unfamiliar, distant place – almost the same feeling I had when coming to the U.S. Right now, New York is my home. It is the city I connect with, the city that shapes me into the person I am today. I think the reason I feel so strongly about this trip is my fear of losing what I have built myself up to be. This probably sounds mental, but it makes sense to me. That is why this time, I am more stressed out than excited about the visit to my home country.

Maybe I am making this up, maybe the last time I went I felt similar to what I feel now. Similar, but not the same. I am already homesick for my Brooklyn apartment and for my home at my mom’s and stepdad’s, but I am looking forward to this trip. Four years in between the visits is a good period of time to be able to compare and see things clearly. I can’t wait to feel what I will feel once I land at the airport in my home city; I can’t wait to experience the daily life I was so close to eight years ago; and I can’t wait to examine what I can truly call my ‘home’ at this point of my life. And of course, I will keep you posted.

{Me and my mom in my U.S. hometown}

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vegas, Baby!

Exactly two weeks ago I was lucky enough to head out to Las Vegas to spend a long weekend with my friend from London and her two friends. The trip was quite short, but it was definitely well-packed with a bunch of fun adventures and activities. Having had heard numerous tales of what Vegas is like, I had my expectation set very high. I must say I was not as impressed as I was expecting to me but overall Vegas definitely did not disappoint. It is definitely a fun destination to visit with a group of friends, a place to let go of all the routine things and just enjoy the atmosphere of fun and total relaxation. I thought I would give you a quick summary of my Friday to Monday stay in “Sin City” and show you what I did and what I saw. Here we go…

The fun begins just as you get off the plane.

We were staying at The Cosmopolitan and on the first night, we went out to a club in our hotel, The Marquee.

I woke up in the morning to this amazing view from our hotel room window.

After breakfast, we decided to take a walk in 104 degree weather to check out other hotels. Not a good idea, but we got some beautiful pictures. 

Caesar Palace lobby

The Venetian 

After our walk in the heat, we came back to the hotel to get some rest before going out in the evening.

That evening, we had the ticket to a club to see David Guetta. We made it to the club, we did not actually get to see David Guetta. It’s a long story…

The next day we decided to take a trip down to Fremont Street, which dates back to 1905 when Las Vegas was just founded. In 1925, it was the first paved street in Las Vegas and in 1931 it received the city’s first traffic light. This street was featured in a lot of movies and it still presents a great deal of entertainment to its visitors.

Having planned the best for the last night, we had ticket to a Cirque du Soleil show ‘Love’ featuring the Beatles’ songs. The show was absolutely amazing!

The night Bellagio fountains performance was a great ending to my Las Vegas stay.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Someone I Once Knew, Someone I Have Become

This morning, I was overcome by the thought of how much I have changed since I moved to New York. The person I was, when I just entered the adult life of living on my own in the big city, and the person I have become almost two and a half years later are two completely different people. They would still probably be friends, sharing their similar positive outlooks on life, but they would definitely argue a lot about their tastes, preferences, hobbies, life choices. As I thought about it, I began to get more and more scared. “What if with all these changes I end up ‘losing myself’” But that fear was immediately followed by another thought of “you cannot lose something you never had, or someone you never found’. That is true. The person who came to New York was a young girl trying to find her way in life, trying to realize what was important for her, trying to develop her own style and taste, trying to be more confident about her own choices, but almost always being pushed over by the opinions and views of the others. That person was weak, but at the same time she was strong because she knew that she had to find her own way in life and she kept trying. Two and a half years later, little by little this girl has become a more self-fulfilled individual with her own opinions, with a higher level of confidence and with a better understanding of what she likes and what she wants to be.

I cannot say that I completely got over all of my fears and that I am absolutely certain about my path in life. No, not at all – I am still quite indecisive, I still get scared and I still am shy when I shouldn’t be. However, all in all, I have learned to be more accepting of my fears and flaws. I have also learned to embrace the fact of not knowing what life has in store for me, as I believe that the most interesting thing in life is just living it and taking in all of the lessons, surprises and rewards it brings.