Tolerance for Uncertainty + A Visit to Philadelphia

“We always say it’s not risks, it’s that entrepreneurs have a high tolerance for uncertainty”– Marc Katz, Forbes Magazine.

That quote ties into this entire post.  And it begins with renting a car Friday night and ends with Saturday night.

I have been busy. Not sure if you haven’t gotten wind of that, but the facts all point to the fact that I’ve been busy and beyond exhausted. Yet, as I told a good friend earlier today by email, I’ve never felt more alive!

So lets rewind to Friday night, when I arrived at the car rental place to pick up my economy rental. There were naturally problems. But everything got straightened out and as I went to get in my car, the guy told me that I had to wait for more cars to be returned. At the time, I smiled and said sure, but the entire time I kept thinking, “NO! I don’t have time! I need to get home to do stuff. You have NO idea how busy I am!” Maybe the guys felt my energy, or impatience, but they turned to me and said, “do you want to take a prius?” To which I said, “Um, Yeah!” Eco-score point 1!

Just for the record, I’ve never driven a prius before. Never. The guy had to give me a quick overview, but within 10 minutes, I was completely comfortable in the car. And I loved it!

Lesson one: You should always jump at an opportunity even if there is some discomfort.  In the end, you’ll get past it just fine and maybe even learn to love something new.

Saturday morning found me rushing around. I made it to Ave B and 14th just in time to not get a ticket from the meter maid that showed up at 8:05, exactly a minute after I did and five minutes after the 8AM time to move.

The rest of the afternoon found me lost multiple times. I got lost to LaGuardia to pick up my guest. I got so lost that I almost started crying. When you see signs for a highway that lead you to the Bronx that you’ve never seen before, immediately is the fear of not being able to turn around. Obviously, you can always turn around on a highway, but again, when you don’t know what you’re doing, or where you’re going, the moment proves to be one of great fear.   I think what made the situation a bit more stressful, to the point of fear induced tears is that someone was waiting for me.

Now, I’m often late.  It’s not that I’m late because I don’t care, although that can be a reason behind a huge instances, it’s that I overestimate my abilities. I always think that I can do way more than I actually can.  It’s also that I do not account for situations where I’ll miss an exit or take a wrong turn and get lost.  In other words, I tend to think that I will do things correctly the first time. Which only adds to being late and getting frustrated.

Luckily for me, I did not give into my tears and instead, breathed deeply and channeled my inner highway driver (thanks, Mom and Dad!) and thought logically about what exit to take to get me back onto the correct highway and in the proper direction.  I ended up back at the airport and was anxious for no reason because my friend had just landed and was not in fact 30 + minutes late as I thought.

Lesson two: Get an iphone, first. Second and most importantly, accept that you are not a super hero and that you can not do everything you need to get done and be efficient. There’s a difference between being efficient and trying to get things done.  Also accept that you will get things wrong, more than once, even when you put your best foot forward,  and that with a bit of level-headedness and breathing you can figure out a solution that may even be better than your first attempt.  Lastly, allow yourself a bit more time.

After picking up my friend at the airport, we stopped for some coffee at this cute little shop in Astoria called The Queens Kickshaw (LOVE IT! Naturally, they opened after I left Queens.) and then stopped by Staples to pick up some labels and then got on the highway headed to Philly.

If you’re expecting me to say that I got lost in the four sentences above, you are correct! I not only got lost going to the coffee shop (I forgot that it was on Broadway and Steinway, I thought it was on 34th and Broadway), I also got lost getting to the highway. At this point though, I was no longer tired (thanks, Queens Kickshaw!) or irritated, I was revved to go and so having to go around a few extra times wasn’t too much of a problem.

The problem began however when we got to Philly following the directions from Google Maps, that were off on the amount of time it would take to get to exits and such, to The Barnes Foundation.  Our tickets were for 2:30, but we didn’t get to the Foundation grounds until around 3:20. I should add that this was after stopping to ask a woman for directions, getting lost, again and then stopping at a Starbucks so that my friend could use the wi-fi connection to pull up a map of the location and a phone call to the Barnes Foundation to let them know that we were lost. Fortunately enough, the woman on the phone was helpful and my friend’s computer proved to be helpful as well.

Lesson three: Sometimes you just need to stop and ask for help.

We got to the Barnes Foundation and were allowed in late. It was completely worth all the times I was lost and the sleepiness and the fact that I did almost no work on Celebrate Brooklyn! products, but I’ll post more about that later this week. After we left the Barnes Foundation, we headed into downtown Philadelphia, stopped at the Paper Source store on Walnut Street (I needed more supplies for Celebrate Brooklyn! product) and walked up and down South Street, drove around looking for parking, parked several times, paid for a lot of meters,  hit a few bumpers trying to park, ate a Cheese Steak, and then did some walking and touring at night for the Liberty Bell (from the window) and the old town area of Philly.

See readers, I am a planner to an extent. Which I suppose helps explain why I work so well with procrastination (watch me procrastinate into the wee hours this week).  When I travel, I plan everything up until I get to the country. At that point it’s a free-for-all. I’ll select a flight, a rough itinerary (of what cities and towns I’d like to see) with my guide book, tickets for anything like train trips, but then I stop.  I don’t want to know what I’ll do before I get there. I mean sure, I want to know what I can do when I’m there, but I leave the day-to-day in the moment. I’d rather decide upon waking up and getting dressed how I’d like my day to go.

The same is true for planning life goals. They always involve lots of room for flexibility. Yes, my heart can get broken when one doesn’t go the way, I want, but I always rebound and with something just as exciting or extravagant. Which is why, as I got frustrated with not finding parking and not finding what I want, I realized that I had that moment. I was only going to be in Philly driving a prius rental car with my friend from Argentina this one time. Yes, we can go back in a few years, but the experience will be completely different. Which means, I took the day and the moments and laughed even through the frustration and feeling of being tired.

Lesson four: Take in every moment regardless of what is going on. Each moment has its own ups and downs, but they offer growth and meaning.

My friend and I got back to my apartment around 12:30am. It was a long day, but a fun day. I have no real pictures to prove of the day because my camera battery was dead, but I fell in love with a painter named Paul Cézanne and kind of have a crush on the city of Philadelphia. I wouldn’t mind living there, honestly. It reminded me a bit of Washington, DC, Boston, Massachusetts, and Alexandria, Virginia. As we walked around the area where the Liberty Bell resides, I was awed at my country’s history and I was glad that I could share that experience with a good friend from another country.

Final lesson: You have to be flexible in your approach to everything. Very few things can be controlled outside of our decisions and reactions. When you learn this and accept it, you can move forward and succeed.

Back to the quote above, I know that I take risks, but I also know that more than my ability and willingness to take risks, I am tolerable of the uncertain.  When I am unsure, I look at the situation and still forge ahead unsure, but optimistic that it will turn out, yet realistic that if it doesn’t, there’s another way.

Thank you Philadelphia for the life and entrepreneurial lessons!


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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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