This is what happens when you put the boy in the city…

New York City Manhattan Mike BuonaiutoHave you ever wondered why those annoying ‘traveling’ friends on Facebook can’t stop sharing all those sickening photos? Beach parties… Skyscrappers… Stunning views… Some even write books and blogs about their experiences.

“Yes, we know you’ve been away enjoying yourself while the rest of us have been at home, please don’t rub it in my face.”

We’ve all thought it – I know I have – but that was before I actually became one of those people who has spent time away from home. So this is a blog about traveling for people that hate people who’ve been traveling talking about their travels. But more importantly this is a blog exploring why changing your environment is an example of breaking bad habits, and why change is vital to seeing new opportunities. (I know deep right!)

So let’s get into it… 2 months ago I was asked to come out to New York to join the All Out team, after working with them on several private viral projects last year. When they first told me the role would mean coming to America I of course thought “Yer right, things like that don’t happen.” But it did.

New York Statue Of Liberty GayWhile being here in New York I have been lucky enough to meet so many amazing people, many I have admired professionally for years. Equally, I’ve found myself in town for the death of DOMA, PRIDE, 4th July, and The Premiere of The Out List, as well as meeting many of my UK twitter and Facebook colleagues in the city, that I’ve never actually got the opportunity to meet face-to-face before. This got me thinking – why. Is it all luck? Why have opportunities seemingly lined themselves up?

I struggled with this question until a colleague of mine gave me some amazing advice. He said:

“It’s because you left your block and in doing so you broke your habits. Sometimes habits are good, they keep you focused, but in doing so they also close your mind to opportunities. Changing things and breaking your habits opens your mind to the opportunities that are always around you.”

My colleague’s words hit me right in the gut, and coming from a person who is not only ridiculously well-traveled but also transgender, I believe he understands the deep implications of change more than most people. It was because I made a massive change and was forced to break my every-day habits that suddenly other opportunities became more apparent.

This got me thinking… a lot! Mainly about my old biology lessons…

Homeostasis is the human body’s natural urge to keep things the same, balanced, repetitive, all the time. It’s what keeps your body temperature at 37.5°C.
It’s therefore incredibly difficult to fight against your body’s natural instincts to keep things consistent and the same.

All Out TeamStep forward, the Monkey in the Cage. This little fella is the voice in the back of our minds, telling us we should give up or revert back to what is relaxed, comfortable or normal.  I have felt this little guy constantly for the last 2 months, if not the last 2 years, when I think I’ve been pushing myself into new experiences and saying yes to opportunities that are challenging and that often require sacrifice.

For example, moving to America was a bigger personal sacrifice than many know. My mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer 2 weeks before I left, meaning I would be away from home at a time where the most important woman in my life would need my support more than perhaps she had before. I won’t lie, I had a meltdown on the plane half way over the Atlantic. The guilt was incredible. Why was I being so selfish, pursuing my own ambitions when my family needed me? It helped that my mum insisted I get on the plane, she practically had to put me on it, but it was incredibly hard to make that decision.

Mum Visits New YorkI now understand that ignoring this urge to keep things the same, and not challenge your habits brings with it opportunities you would never imagine existed. Because I made the choice to travel to New York, my mum was then able to visit a city she has always dreamt of visiting, before having her mastectomy and chemotherapy. And she did… She visited New York City for a long weekend with me in May. Now imagine how many Monkey’s she had to ignore to make that decision!

So challenging habits is difficult but understanding and respecting them is also important, because the opportunities that follow can change the lives of the people you love.

In essence, get to know that Monkey in the cage, who is even right now telling me to not bother writing this blog. He was also there telling me not to go for the All Out job in the first place. “Things like this don’t happen.” Understand him, respect him, and then ignore him.

So please forgive my travel pictures and this self-proclaiming blog about opportunity. Traveling really does leave something with you about the world that you want to share with the world. Leave your block, if only for a while, and see things differently.

I return back to the UK mid-July, to continue working with All Out and United Nations Free and Equal remotely. Check out our film from the death of DOMA below 🙂

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