The First 365 New York Days

The First 365 New York Days

Mes chéries, I’m pinching myself. I cannot believe it’s been just over a year since I moved into the city with one of my best friends from high school in an overpriced shoebox apartment in the neighborhood of retired frat stars.

For four long years, I walked around my college campus acting like moving to New York was just a rite of passage for me. I didn’t fully understand the possibility of not making it to this city. It took seeing a few friends struggle before I realized just how lucky I was. Not everyone’s post graduation dreams come true. Not everyone ends up where they want to be. So when my final summer came to an end, I moved into the concrete jungle with a head filled with lofty goals for my career, my blog, my health and fitness, and my savings account. 

A year later, so much has changed.

Everything possibly difficult or negative that I expected to happen happened, but all the positive hopeful things I expected to happen did not. This past year, I’ve dealt with a wide variety of “real-life” struggles. Teachers will tell you that everyone writes in cursive after middle school but no one tells you what to do when you are screwed over by your building’s management, or how to budget your money. Considering I have a job and a wonderful new apartment, I can’t say anything was truly abysmal this year. But, I can say the city wore me out mentally, physically, and financially.

As you remember from my “Twenty-Three Years Wiser” post, my birthday was not the most pleasant time for me. At the turn of every calendar and birth year, I always reflect on what I experienced and learned the previous year. Then, I try to set a new goal or refresh my mindset for the one ahead. This year was the first birthday in a few years where I looked around and was not happy about a single thing. Usually I can pick out one or two things that I look back on fondly, but instead everything was just meh. I wasn’t miserable, but I wasn’t really ecstatic and thriving the way I wanted to. I was just content, comfortable, and tired. These are the worst words I never want to hear when describing where I am in life. 

After a long reflection, I discovered the truth behind my moodiness all year: I may not know everything, but I always thought I knew who I was. Yet this year completely challenged everything I thought I knew. I thought I knew what I wanted. I thought I knew what I liked and disliked, what I wanted to learn, what I didn’t care about. I thought I knew what was good for me and what wasn’t. Turns out I knew nothing.

This past year, I learned a few new things in friendship, in career, in love, in money, and in personal growth. 

Lessons In Friendship

You’ve heard me say this before, so I figured I get it out of the way first.

Friends aren’t always forever. If they are, sometimes you need to take a break. In fact, my oldest friend Amanda and I spent nearly two and a half years not speaking to each other before we became the friends we are today. This year, some of the friendships I hold so dear to me were tested numerous times. I don’t think I’ve ever been so blindsided or questioned so many people’s characters this frequently. 

But the truth of the matter is this: people might change a few things, but they will never actually change. You need to accept that, love them for who they are (and always will be), and build a friendship off of those expectations OR you need to let it go. 

Remember my post after my birthday? I decided to hold onto those friendships because I valued what they brought to my life despite the lows. But in doing so, I promised myself to take everything for face value. What I see is what I get, nothing less and nothing more, and it’s honestly made me a better and more patient friend to everyone.

Lessons In Career

I originally had a story here that painted my career love story that blessed me with of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my life. I hoped by being transparent with my experiences and what I’ve heard from my friends, I could show you that even if your first job out of college or dream job you landed turns out to be something different from your expectations, you can always find a new perspective to look at it. You can also always find a way to truly learn and grow your skill set as long as you are adding value somewhere and gain something valuable in return.

Sadly, people read things in their own tone of voices or with their own viewpoints about sensitive topics, such as the workplace. My goal with blogging is never to offend or sabotage, but always to share in the hopes of comforting someone who is in a similar position or teaching a reader something I learned. But if we’re being honest, just because I don’t have ill intentions and just because I think something I say is positive doesn’t mean someone will interpret my actions or words the same way. So instead, I’m replacing what I wrote with this statement:

Work is work. If you’re lucky enough that work is play as well, then you’ve truly scored the jackpot! But for the rest of us, work is work and play is play. Not everyone is going to be your friend, and you should always look out for your best interests. Just know you don’t need to make a career out of what you love, but you do need to find a place where you can 1) happily thrive and contribute to the company 2) grow as a person and as a professional 3) respect the organization and be respected as a member of it. At the end of the day, that is all that matters regardless of the field or title.

Lessons In Love

Yikes. Where do I begin.

Well. From the moment the clock turned midnight of January 1 to this very second, I can confidently say that my quest for love has been a gong show. For years, love has always eluded me. Whether it’s thanks to the kind of family I grew up in or shitty relationships, my definition of love has been fucked up and twisted. I was determined to find what it really means this year.

But this year, I’ve cried some of my hardest cries since sophomore year of college. I felt used by someone I looked up to. I was completely disrespected by guys I thought were friends who’d keep me safe. I was toyed with out of habit for some who couldn’t keep me but didn’t respect me enough to just let me go. Honestly at some point, I was just simply done. 

A few months ago, my coworkers persuaded me to download an app and go on a dating spree. The challenge was to go on five dates with give guys in a week. The one rule was: no second dates in-between those five first dates. The caveat is they can’t be my typical “type” I always go for. Their goal was to get me to branch out and see that the “ideal guy” I keep chasing might not actually be the kind of guy I want or more importantly, need. (They were also hoping the dates would all be hysterical enough to blog about, but that’s a whole other thing…)

Now if you know me, you know I hate wasting my time on people who don’t bring anything into my life. Why on earth would I spend my precious out-of-office time sipping a well whiskey with coke pretending to give two shits about some stranger I met on the INTERNET when I could be doing something else? 

Well. Two and a half months, a second date, and an unfinished challenge later, I owe a lot to those coworkers. I still totally have a type, but many of my credentials have changed. I’m not going to say much, but right now I’m the calmest and happiest I’ve ever been. The happiness I’m talking about is not necessarily butterflies or the type bubbles up and goes away, but rather one that is a peaceful within. 

There are a lot of potential Mr./Mrs. Rights in this world, but there will only ever be one Mr./Mrs. Right Now. Sometimes it’s the latter you need to look for to find the one that will become your Mr./Mrs. Right.

Lessons In Money

There are two lessons here. The first is this:

You can only have one of two things: time or money. You need to decide which one is more important. If it’s time, you need to be okay with not earning a 6-digit salary right away but choosing a job that pays the bills and let’s you do what you love. If it’s money, you need to be okay with sacrificing a lot of your time to earn that money and not necessarily have time to spend it.

The second is this:

Money is the root of many evils. How a person views and deals with money tells you a lot about his/her character. If someone views money as the utmost important thing over people and things, that is their right and not something you can punish them for. But it’s best to align yourself with people who view money similarly to you.

Lessons In Personal Growth

Nothing you did in your past matters. It’s what you do today and tomorrow that people will judge you with. I don’t think anyone cares how many tequila shots I drowned myself one night in college or who I hooked up with after those ten tequila shots. They don’t care where I went to school, what clubs I joined, what my sorority’s rep was, or who I hung out with between classes. They care about what I do with my wealth of knowledge today and how I carry myself. 

You can only grow as fast as you grow. You can’t rush the process. It will come with time and experiences. I’m not sure I’m the person I expected to grow into this year: I’m significantly colder, meaner, and less sympathetic than I used to be. I’m not as driven, much more nonchalant about achieving certain goals, and don’t give a shit about most people’s opinions about me.

New York’s energy makes its residents feel like they’re always playing catch up. Every time you accomplish something, you are told someone else did that yesterday and is onto the next big thing. If you’ve been sucked into that vibe as much as I have, don’t grow frustrated with yourself and absolutely do not give up. I’ve given up a few times, threw my hands in the air and said “What’s the point!”

The point is if I really think one year of not progressing at the rapid speed I expected to be is an indication of wasted time or failure, I will be stuck here forever questioning who I am, who I’m becoming, and what I’m doing with my life. This is all part of a greater process. Just because I didn’t achieve all ten goals I set for myself this year doesn’t mean I’m not growing or progressing. It just means I overestimated the pace I am growing at and need to take it day by day.

This next year, I’m reminding myself to not get stuck in the New York vacuum. Sometimes, it’s better to remove yourself from the world around you and go at your own pace. What someone else does at their pace or what someone thinks about your pace should have no bearing on the speed you move forward at. Whatever you do, do not forget that.

It’s August 14, 2018. I’m still lost in some areas, hopefully clueless when it comes to love, and not entirely financially responsible, but I truly found myself in others areas. I’m in an infinitely better apartment (room tour and decor tips coming soon!), writing much more often, learning new technical skills at work, confident in myself, and have a much better sense of what I need in my life than I did a year ago. When it comes down to it, that’s all I can ask from myself as a 23 year old. 

New York is not an easy place to live in. Life here is expensive, exhausting, and brutally challenging to your sanity. But I wouldn’t trade these tribulations for anything in the world. Without this city pushing me past new boundaries, I wouldn’t be the person I am. I wouldn’t be me. 

Merci beaucoup, mes chéries, for always listening. Until next time, bisou bisou…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Erica Huang

Based in New York City, Erica Huang is the creator and voice behind Bouge & Rouge. This blog is a playground of her thoughts where she invites you to join her on her journey through her 20s. Erica shares her lifestyle, fashion and beauty tips, adventures, and personal thoughts with the goal of inspiring others to always persevere and be unapologetically yourself.

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