some lessons can’t be planned

long post alert. how bow dahh. heehee.

so, flashback to december 2015. i had just finished my last fieldwork, christmas was around the corner, and i was weeks away from one of the biggest decisions of my life. i was moving from the west coast to the east coast. i packed up my condo, and got on a plane with three suitcases and my dog (shoutout to felicia for being my ultimate ride-or-die in my carry-on luggage). my “plan” was to come visit the boyfriend, study for boards, then find a travel gig and be on my way. one year later, jokes on me and i am still in NY. while i spent the greater half (who am i kidding, more like 95%) of my time here adjusting complaining about the city, as i reflect upon my personal growth here, i feel better knowing that this city has done me a lot of good. don’t get me wrong, NY has SOOO MUCH going on. i’ve had a ton of fun exploring new territory but i happily accept that living here is temporary and that in time i’ll be back in my california abode. i’m forever a CA girl.

needless to say, things went much differently than planned. (well, different than my first choice plan anyway) and looking back, i see that that’s alright. but prior to all these changes, that wouldn’t have been okay. the old me would be griping about things not working how i felt they would work. so i’m grateful to have learned in a big way to be okay when things don’t go as planned. that’s when the best lessons come through. this is huge for me. so here’s what i’ve learned during my time in good ol new yawk:

  • Patience. self-explanatory but to give you a visual- not turning up while waiting for trains, being cut off on trains, delays on trains, and waiting for the crappy timewarner wifi to stabilize (hello first world problems!).
  • How to brave all seasons. even though NY’s snow game is weak compared to other places, it still gets cold AF, and disgustingly humid/hot AF- both of which were a huge adjustment. i experienced my first full summer last year and it was miserable. i usually love summer, but dang, i really don’t appreciate sweating out my hair and clothes every sleeping and waking minute. trains were disgusting, stations were sweltering. i really didn’t even think my body was capable of producing that much sweat. “fall” was literally 3 weeks or less. as was “spring.” i think i prefer the cold over the hot, though, and i’ve noticed my tolerance for cold has gone up. when instaweather shows me 40+ degrees, i consider that a bearable winter day.
  • How to save money in a big expensive city. newsflash, i’m cheap. i dream about dollar stores and finding good deals on clothes and food. the closest markets to our apartment are moderately priced for most items, but not everything so i quickly scoped the area for even cheaper options. my fave discoveries were Aldi (it’s a more organized/clean Grocery Outlet), FiveBelow (everything $5 and under; hello set of ankle weights and statement t-shirts!), LotLess (I always come out spending ALOTMORE because everything is soo cheap), and I recently started shopping at our local Costco. it may take more time to shop around, but for me, saving coins is worth it. Jet.com is great for online bulk purchases. this year I discovered eBates for online shopping rebates, and got reaquainted with Swagbucks to earn giftcards for things like doing surveys and shopping. you’re welcome.
  • and on the contrary, Knowing when to not penny-pinch. i tend to go overboard with the being cheap thing. i mean, why would you spend more when you can find it for less with a little extra time? example: ONE CRATE of strawberries for $8.99 at the closest grocery store. ummmm, inflation much? shop around and you can find better deals. however, for other things, i will cave when i need them ASAP and don’t have the energy or time to walk around the town in obscene weather conditions to price-gauge. hurts at little, but i’ve softened my frugality here in NY. convenience over price, sometimes.
  • Improved sense of direction/space. learning a new city and train system has been a fun challenge. traveling mostly by foot is convenient, sometimes frustrating, and allows you to see and remember more of the journey rather than have to focus on the road driving a car.
  • How to keep busy indoors. my creative energy has straight SPIKED. got back into scrapbooking, started a blog, and have read more books this year than i have in my entire life. gotta entertain yourself somehow when the weather sucks. now to plan to be more consistent with this energy.
  • How to take things less personally. many of the NYers are very direct. not rude, but direct. huge culture shock for me when i first moved here. i didn’t realize how much i took for granted west coast human warmth. being cut off on the street or while getting onto a train is just the norm. while i’ll never understand what the “big rush” is, i can accept that this is the culture here. gotta keep it moving. a good lesson for life tho – just keep it moving.
  • To be more okay with crowded spaces. I HATE invasion of my personal space by strangers. but this is something i had to get past, quick. still annoying at times, though. subways can be crowded, streets are crowded, and because there’s more people than space here, personal space is often overlooked.
  • and lastly, To remain ME in the midst of the rat race. early on, i caught myself mimicing the vibe i felt from the culture here- extra rushed and cold. this wasn’t me. when i remind myself to come out of that spell, i feel much better. who cares that no one else is smiling while walking down the street? i will be that girl.

ending this monologue with a quote, phrase, whatever you wanna call it:

CHANGE. I CAN CHOOSE TO LET IT DEFINE ME, CONFINE ME, REFINE ME, OUTSHINE ME, OR I CAN CHOOSE TO LEARN FROM IT, MOVE ON, AND LEAVE IT BEHIND ME.

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