It's January 1st, the traditional day of new beginnings. The start of a resolution. A promise that this year will be different. A shedding of 365 days that didn't turn out as you planned.
Why does this day have this power? How can December 31st be so different than January 1st when there is only a minute separating them?
We discussed this over brunch this morning (of course we were having brunch - it is New York after all). As I reflected back over other January firsts of my past, I realized these were often the days of momentous change in my life. These changes weren't deciding to have a dry January or working out every day. January 1st has marked very specific new beginnings in my life; times when I decided to be brave and uproot myself.
My first major first was the day I landed in London. I had won an online contest and the prize was a working holiday visa for the UK. Instead of taking it right away like most of the winners did each year, I took the opportunity on the last day I possibly could. December 31st, dressed in combat boots and cargo pants, my hair in braids, I checked in a single Canadian flagged backpack with all of my earthly belongings, and boarded a direct flight to London.
I landed the morning of January 1st and took the tube to Camden to meet my new roommate: a college grad from California called Mary Kate who I only met on an internet forum. Thankfully she wasn't a serial killer - and though she claimed the bed and I had to sleep on the couch, that was the start of my life in the UK. How would I know that my planned one year away would stretch into a residency and then a citizenship, that I'd publish 3 books, perform around the world, get my masters, have my first feature made, direct my first documentary then my first web series, work for dream companies like PayPal and the BBC, and make countless friends that feel more like my family.
Heading to the Big Apple
The second major January 1st marked the first day of work at my new job in another new city: Editorial Director of an online publication called Econsultancy. And this time, I was winging my way to New York. This time, it all started with a tweet. I jokingly responded to a friend's tweet sharing the job post saying "Won't you miss me when I'm living in New York?" The response was a DM asking if I'd like to apply and that I'd be perfect in the role. Never one to back down to a challenge, I threw my hat into the ring and before I knew it had a visa in my passport and I was moving to New York.
This move was a lot harder. I don't think it's because I was older, but more that New York is a harder city. Being a Canadian who spent her entire adult life in England, my culture shock was more intense than I anticipated. I started my first days in a bug infested sublet on a mattress on the floor, I worked in literal cage in the center of rows with other cages - a time when start-up offices weren't cool like WeWork is today. But slowly I found my people and joined film groups, made movies, and got to experience a new type of work at agencies and with publications.
I also met the love of my life. I always think it strange to see that sentence when I read it elsewhere, but it feels apt in describing John, my now husband. After always choosing trouble, I saw John and thought - he looks like someone I should get to know. And we've talked every day since we've met. He is my other half - our knowledge of the world is so complementary that we're perfect trivia partners and it helps that we're both a little weird. Laughter is definitely key to our relationship. Of course I never would have met him or my wonderful friends and colleagues if I didn't decide to tweet that one day and start another year in a new place.
Calling America home
Now we'll move on to this year. Yesterday as I opened my mail, I found a letter from the government. It says that I can stay in the US (unless my background check shows anything troubling) and that I basically have my green card (hoorah!) So another new door has opened for me. Though I like my job and have no plans of moving, once I get my green card in the post, I'm free to work, or not work, I'm free to be part of the fabric of America however I'd like. It's both exhilarating and terrifying: I have no more excuses. All those things finally I said I couldn't do because of my visa status are now doable.
Maybe you'd question, why now. 2017 was a rough year for America and 2018 seems rocky at best. But today, as I start to contemplate my future, I saw the launch of TIME’S UP.
Pulled from their site, TIME'S UP is a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere. From movie sets to farm fields to boardrooms alike, they envision nationwide leadership that reflects the world in which we live.
Powered by women, TIME’S UP addresses the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential. They partner with leading advocates for equality and safety to improve laws, employment agreements, and corporate policies; help change the face of corporate boardrooms and the C-suite; and enable more women and men to access our legal system to hold wrongdoers accountable.
The pages shouted out: No more silence. No more waiting. No more tolerance for discrimination, harassment or abuse. TIME’S UP.
The advice is sound and measured. Asks us to hold ourselves and others accountable. I was in awe as I read out the pages to my right of center husband. And he was equally in awe.
As I embark on another new chapter of my life, newly married and newly free, this is the anthem that I am riding in on. And I feel hopeful for tomorrow and the weeks and months stretching ahead of me into 2018.