New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down

I haven’t felt many positive emotions towards New York City lately. This is mostly circumstantial, in light of the recent events that have happened to me, so I’m writing this with a slight bias. But in the last few years, I haven’t had the best memories to associate with this city and it kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

When I first moved here, I set the bar really high for myself. I still had that post-graduate fire, driven towards a successful career. I envisioned a life that would weigh more on the fun and exciting side rather than the difficult and discouraging side. It comes in waves though, like anything in life.

There are moments like last week when I was reunited with a good friend from Australia whom I haven’t seen in over a year, which coincidentally brought together a group of friends in whom I hardly see anymore.

And I keep asking myself the question of whether it’s New York City or if it’s just me. As the great Sinatra once said, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” Well, Sinatra knows his stuff. It’s true. There is no life like New York City.

So, I’m not sure if I’ve done my time and proved to myself and others that I can withstand a beating by living here. I’m not sure if leaving this city will change anything – If I’ll find a better job, or a boyfriend, or a cheaper apartment (I’d most likely find a cheaper apartment). I’m not sure if it’s the mental state that I’m in or the city that I’m living. A lot of people take the action of changing their environment for a better life. I’m not sure if that will work in my case. I’m not sure if I just need to figure things out still. All I know is that I don’t know.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from New York City, it’s that it’s constantly changing. Change, ironically, is the only thing that tends to stay the same here. People come and go, jobs come and go, apartments come and go, relationships start and end. It’s a vicious cycle.

To me, New York City can be summed up perfectly in the words of E.B. White’s, in an excerpt from “Here is New York”:

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

I’m the settler who is trying to re-discover my passion for New York City. I’m trying to get back to the place where I was filled with ambition and fire. I somehow lost it along the way.

Who you meet

There’s a quote from the movie “Love and Other Drugs” that meant a lot to me the first time I ever heard it and it still means a lot to me now. It goes like this,

“You meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. And then you meet one person and your life is changed forever.” 

I’m writing this because I know that the person whom I’m writing about is going to read it. And I actually hope he does because this is meant for him. So, here it is.

I know that a lot of people may disagree with the idea of ‘love at first sight.’ To be completely honest, I still don’t exactly understand the mechanics behind it. People usually tend to call it ‘lust at first sight’ instead because how do you really know that you love someone whom you’ve never met before?

Well, I’m not sure if it was love at the first moment I saw him, but it sure as hell was something. It was something that, little did I know at the time, would change my life forever.

The first time I saw him, I was drawn to him. It was like I knew that something was going to happen between us. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I felt like I was supposed to meet him.

Living in New York City, people try not to make eye contact with others. Yet, we encounter hundreds of thousands of people each day just getting from one subway stop to another. How are you supposed to know who is going to impact your life or not?

Usually, it’s a small percentage. We often make it a point to reach our destination without a single encounter unless it’s with someone we’re already with. It’s funny how that happens in big cities. There are millions of people who are going about their lives, trying to avoid making eye contact with one another.

I always go back to that day when I first saw him and I try to ask myself, ‘What exactly was it was that made me look up from staring at the ground that day?‘ When I saw him, I just knew that he was going to be someone important in my life. Again, at the time, I hadn’t realized the magnitude of what our relationship would become. Little did I know how affected I would be him. And little did I know that he would become such a significant part of my young adult life.

But with that quote from “Love and Other Drugs,” I didn’t know that meeting that one person wouldn’t necessarily mean that you would spend the rest of your life with them. Some people come into your life to play a key role only for a brief period of time. Not all relationships were built to last.

I thought [and still think] that our relationship was short-lived. I wasn’t done getting to know him yet. I wasn’t done letting him get to know me. I still don’t know if it’s done or when it will end or if it will begin again. I’m not waiting, but I’m never sure.

Life works in an odd way in that sense – Not knowing who will leave you, who will come back, and who you’ll meet along the way. But when you know, you know. You just feel it. And that’s an important instinct to trust.

The Re-Return

I am no stranger to the on-again-off-again relationship. Up until recently, I’ve been dealing with the same scenario for almost two years. Even now that I’ve “ended it” once again, I still question myself and wonder if I’m going to dig myself into the same hole that I have been attempting to crawl out of for the past two years.

I’m a serial re-returner. Even outside of my aforementioned on-again-off-again relationship, I tend to follow the same pattern of revisiting old memories, summoning ghosts from my past, and resuming old habits. As they say, old habits die hard.
 
When my ex-boyfriend and I broke up for the umpteenth time back this past June, I did what any typical broken-hearted girl would do. I went into an extremely deep and depressing period of Netflix binge-watching. You may be wondering what was my choice poison – Well, it was Grey’s Anatomy. Classic, I know.
 
I’ve never actually gotten through a majority of the seasons. I usually stop myself at some point halfway through once I’ve realized that I’ve had enough of suffering in silence. However, there was one quote in a particular episode that struck me, when Meredith Grey was narrating. She asks the question, 
“What’s worse? New wounds, which are so horribly painful or old wounds that should have healed years ago, but never did?” 

This question really resonated with me and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time as I was wallowing what may be my 8th or 9th cycle of post break-up depression. Right then and there, I noticed, I was doing it again. I was re-returning. I was re-returning by going back to a show that I typically use as my routine pick-me-up whenever I’m sad. I was re-returning by thinking of my ex-boyfriend again. And it always follows the same pattern.

I’m a slave to the familiar. A clinger. I tend to hold onto things and people as tightly as possible, dismissing the reality of hindsight bias, which is when you look back at a particular situation and say to yourself, “It wasn’t all that bad” (even though it really was at the time).
 
So, I had to ask myself Meredith Grey’s question of 
“What’s worse? New wounds, which are so horribly painful or old wounds that should have healed years ago, but never did?” 
To be quite frank, I honestly don’t know because apparently I always lean towards feeling the pain of old wounds that I never allow to fully heal.
 
Albert Einstein once said, 
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 
Even as I am quoting this universal genius, I am already aware that I’ve quoted him in past writing which proves that I am, in fact, an insane person for continuously repeating my own history by going back to old habits.
 
I wonder, what makes us so afraid of creating new wounds? Old wounds aren’t any less painful than new ones. If anything, old wounds are actually more painful in the sense that re-opening them continues to make the scar worse until you are so far damaged that you’re actually incapable of creating new wounds. 
 
Re-opening old wounds, re-returning to those things and people who have hurt us, increases our risk for paralysis and that just terrifies me to my core.
 
If you ever observe children as they are running or playing, they don’t have that fear of getting hurt. They just do what they please and risk the pain because they are resilient and they can heal quicker than us adults can.
 
I’m afraid that I have re-opened too many old wounds to the point where I really am afraid of creating new ones. I’m afraid that I’m becoming that broken, cynical, scarred person that I once dreaded becoming.
 
Adulthood is nothing like I had expected it to be. I never imagined that the plans I had set out for myself wouldn’t go as I anticipated. I never imagined that the people I cared so deeply about would hurt me so much. I never imagined that I would even allow people to hurt me so badly.
 
But, I did. And I still am.
 
They say that time heals all wounds. Well, I’ve learned that time alone doesn’t do that phrase justice. You, as an individual, also have to make a conscious effort to protect yourself by leaving old wounds alone and allowing time to take its course.

Return from the Philippines

I arrived home from my trip to the Philippines late Thursday night. To say that this trip was amazing is the understatement of the year. This trip was necessary. It was emotional, joyous, and difficult. It was worth every penny spent. I couldn’t even say that you could truly put a price on experiences like these. I want to begin my recap, but I honestly don’t even know where to start. I haven’t even fully re-adjusted to my life back home to be able to discuss how much this trip meant to me. But, since I’ve caught a bit of the writing bug on this late Sunday night, I can’t let it pass, so here I go:

On the first day of our arrival in the Philippines, my parents, sister and I were greeted by a mass of our relatives. I had never met my Dad’s side of the family in-person before, but it felt like I’ve known them my entire life. We had lunch together that day and there was no denying that this family was my blood. Everyone was happy, with large smiles on their face to be able to share this first meal with us. That day, I still couldn’t believe that I was physically there.

Throughout the duration of our trip, we traveled to several places; Tagaytay, Batangas, Taytay Rizal, Zambales. We saw many different parts of the Philippines, ate an extraordinary amount of food, did a lot of shopping, and bonded as a family. I find it impossible to fully explain every detail of my trip in this short blog post, but I can say that in the mere two weeks that I was there, I was able to discover a whole new part of my family and myself.

The thing that I love the most about travel is being able to see a side of yourself in a place that you’ve never been before; being faced with unfamiliar situations is a significant part of life. It helps you realize things you never knew before. It helps you learn. It helps you grow.

Now that I’m back home, I’m honestly heartbroken, sad, and missing the time spent with my family. I’m the opposite of homesick. I want to be there instead of here. I’ve realized many things upon returning back from my trip and the main thing is that my family is the most important thing in my life.

Now that I’m back home, I’m realizing that I’m not okay with my life here. I’m not fulfilled, not even content. The only thing that has seemed to bring me true happiness recently is being with my family and enjoying their company. To feel love that powerful scares me. It makes me wonder if I can ever find that kind of love anywhere else in life.

I went home by myself because I have to go back to work on Monday. My parents and sister stayed in the Philippines for an extra week. Being apart from my family while they are still there makes me feel like a piece of me is missing. I don’t even want to dare think of how my life would be without them, but I do and just being separated from them hurts.

I think that throughout my entire life, I’d been looking for a kind of love like this; unconditional love. Aside from family and God, I’m scared that I will never find someone else to love me the way my family does. I don’t think I could even love myself the way my family does. Being back home just reminds me of that.

The trip has enlightened me a great deal. I know they say you can’t find someone to love you until you truly love yourself and I think that was the problem all along for me.

I’m thankful for this trip. I hope to go back to the Philippines soon. But until then, I’m going to keep working on myself.

On Giving and Receiving Advice in Difficult Situations

When we are faced with difficult situations where we are simply unable to make a decision on our own, we turn to those who know us best for advice, whether it be a friend or family member. Even then, when we receive advice, we often still can’t arrive at a concrete solution. Why is this? Why do we turn to the advice of others when we don’t even take it into consideration a majority of the time. We often completely dismiss it or argue with them from every angle. It’s difficult to see things from an outside perspective when you’re in the situation yourself. Of course, it’s easier to give advice than to receive it. When you’re the one giving advice, the answer almost always seems clear.

Say for example, a friend turns to you immediately after getting into a fight with his or her significant other. From an outside perspective, you can easily dissect the argument. You point out the errors in communication (or lack thereof), tell them that they should/should not have said something, or advise them to react differently for future circumstances. As you are giving them with this advice, I can assure you that their immediate reaction is: They are 100% disagreeing with you in silence. That little person inside their brain is sitting there with arms crossed, and shaking their head left to right.

If you’re the person receiving this advice, you’re thoughts begin to populate and you silently respond in various ways:

“But she doesn’t even understand what happened”

“She doesn’t even know him”

“She’s not the one in the relationship”

Your defensive barriers begin to climb higher and higher and eventually, you completely tune out from everything they are saying.

Then, do we even bother asking? We ask because we care about the opinions of those that matter to us. We ask because deep down, we know that they can see things much clearer than we ever could when we’re in the heat of the moment. We ask because we often know the answer, but hope to hear something different. We ask because, even though we don’t want to admit it, they are usually right.

I’m a big fan of Elite Daily and I quite often read articles on topics such as relationships and dating immediately after I get into a fight with my boyfriend. And immediately after reading them, I get even more frustrated and angry on the opinions of these internet strangers. I often respond in one of the various ways that I provided above. But the thing about giving and receiving advice is this- It is always coming from an outside perspective. No matter what, at the end of the day, no one can know the inner workings of any difficult situation whether it be your best friend, your sister, or your husband. They can only tell you things from their point of view.

So, all you can really  do is to try to put yourself in that outside perspective and ask yourself, “What would I do if I was watching this happen live?”

Again, this is always easier said than done, but if all of us tried removing ourselves from the situation, then there would be a significant drop in errors in communication. Sometimes, we just have to take a step back and remove ourselves from the situation and see it for what it is. Often times, we are too emotionally invested to see things clearly. To remove the fog from the glass, try a different window. Hopefully then, a solution will come.

24

As I’m skimming through the many blog posts from my 23rd year of life, I’m noticing a pattern from where I was a year ago.

I re-read my entry from last year, “23 ” and I’m seeing that life really does come full circle in just a span of a year. I’ve faced almost identical hardships when I was 22 as I did when I was 23. Oddly enough, these similar hardships occurred at similar times during a particular season. I can only assume that this will continue in the years to come.

Similar to last year, the month of November has been nothing short of chaotic. In a single month, I’ve managed to start another new job (yet again), move into another new apartment (yet again), run the 2014 New York City Marathon, perform two shows with my band, and be in a relationship. I’ve always loved Autumn because it poses these opportunities for transformation. I suppose this may be why I’m so adaptive of change, being that my birthday falls in Autumn.

Another year has passes and I’m now 24. Honestly, I’ve never been so glad to say goodbye to a year.

I realize that I write about the same topics over and over again. I always question myself, asking why I repeatedly end up in identical hardships year after year. However, I can say this: Slowly, but surely, I am changing. Little by little, I am getting better at dealing with life. I am getting better at handling difficult situations. I am getting better at preparing myself for the worst. I am getting better at being adult (kind of)

I’m really looking forward to what 24 has in store for me. I look forward to experiencing more wonderful memories as well as hardships. Not all of 23 was as horrifying as I made it seem to be. There were many positive events and accomplishments that came with that age. Yet, I know that with every up also comes a down. It’s just all about holding on and enjoying the ride.

Here’s to 24.

New Beginnings

In the wise words of Semisonic, “Every beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

It took me a while to truly understand the meaning behind this. Even now, it’s still difficult to comprehend in many scenarios.

A part of me has always been a big fan of tradition and keeping things the way they are. However, the other part of me thrives off of change. The main reason behind this tear in beliefs comes from the way that I was raised; coming from immigrant parents and being a first generation American. On top of that, I was born in this particular generation of rapid technological development where I have seen the fine break between the old and the new. I think that’s why it’s so much harder for me to let go of things. Although, in the end, I know it’s always for the better.

I’ve undergone many changes this past year. I’ve dealt with many periods of adjustment and uncomfortableness. It was never easy in the end stages, nor was it easy in the beginning. But, there was always that sweet spot where everything was working really well.

I started a new job at a new company today. I left behind the first job I had out of college, where I was an employee for about two and a half years. To emphasize my earlier point, it was not easy. It’s just like going to a new school, moving to a new town, or dating a new person. There is a lot to get used to, but eventually it becomes normal.

It’s terrifying to take a leap of faith and take a risk for something potentially greater. Sometimes, it works out in your favor and sometimes, it doesn’t. But if you never try, then you’ll never know. It’s terrifying to leave the familiar behind. We just get too comfortable.

We mustn’t get too comfortable until we reach that ongoing sweet spot in our lives. Even then, we must continue to grow. I’m not a life expert, nor am I psychologist or psychic. However, in my experience, I can speak to this:

Don’t settle where you cannot grow.

Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Don’t be afraid to get hurt.

Don’t be afraid to fail.

Don’t give up.

Life gets hard. We go through difficult times. But we must move forward. This is how we’ve come so far in the past. This is how we will continue to grow.

Never Forget

I’ve been working in New York City for almost two and a half years now.

I started working here on June 4th, 2012.

I moved into the city on December 1st, 2012.

I moved out of the City on May 31st, 2014.

With all the changes that have happened in my life and the lives of others over these past few years, the city seems to always remain the same. However, there are still certain days that have an impact on me and at this point, will most likely continue to have an impact on me for the rest of my life; those significant days that bring crashing waves of memories because it changed your life.

As I commuted into the city this morning to go to work, there was a difference that I felt.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the day that New York City’s twin towers were attacked. I was in my sixth grade English class at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Edison, New Jersey when it happened. The impact of this event never hit as close to home as it has in my recent years since I’ve had an attachment to New York City.

When I entered Penn Station this morning, there was a memorial ceremony taking place in remembrance of 9/11. I was going to continue on my way to work, but I stopped to watch for a few minutes and my suddenly eyes began tearing.

I had no idea what came over me, but a wave of emotions took over and I was completely filled with sadness. As I got on the subway, I started thinking back on my life in New York City and how much it has changed me. I started thinking of all the past and present struggles in my life. I thought about why in the world I even chose to work in such an overwhelming place. As I looked around at the people who were next to me on the subway, I wondered if they were thinking the same thing.

I never thought that I would end up here. To be honest, I hated the idea of even being in the city when I was younger. I hated the smell, hated the crowds, hated the speed of everything.

Not until I started working here did I embrace this lifestyle.

This morning, I thought about how strong of a city New York really is and moreover, how strong the people inhabiting this city are. I thought about the impact that it has on millions of people.

I remembered why I fell in love with this city, with all of its seductive qualities; its chaos.

Then, realized why I became so sad this morning. I started to think about how close to home 9/11 really does hit me now and how close to home it hits to not only the people who live or work here, but to those who are outside of New York City; It hits not only just the United States, but the entire world.

New York City is made up of an endless combination of human beings. There are people living and working here who have come from every corner of the Earth. In the few years that I have been here, I’ve been moved by so many people who all have a unique story and attachment to New York City. To me, this place, this concrete jungle is my home. It’s no surprise that when I traveled all the way to Australia, I introduced myself as being from New York City instead of my actual hometown in New Jersey.

Everyone has some sort of attachment to this place. For some reason, it attracts all types of people and we will never fully understand why. It’s dirty, loud, and overall stressful to be in. But I do love it.

I’ve fallen in love a few times before – three to be exact. But the one love that has changed me the most is the love I have for New York City.

I know it’s a little melodramatic and exaggerated to say, but I fell truly, madly, and deeply in love with this place.

I watch television shows like Friends, Sex and the City, and How I Met Your Mother and I can fully understand and relate to everything that they reference.

To my friends who haven’t experienced the city the way I have, who haven’t worked or lived here, believe me when I say that you can never fully understand. There’s just something about being in New York City constantly; something that keeps us on our toes and wanting more. But, it’s definitely not for everyone.

So, on this day, when I think about the attack that happened on 9/11, I’m overcome with emotion. Because how dare someone attack something I love so much?

There will always be days that I will never forget. The day I started working here. The day I moved in. The day I moved out. And today.

Today is one of those days.

Fight or Flight

Lately, I’ve been really questioning my effectiveness in dealing with my problems.

I’ve been continuing to do a great deal of self-evaluation ever since I’ve been back from my trip to Australia and I’m realizing that I’m, slowly but surely, returning to my normal state of reaction (in the form of panic) towards certain situations – specifically stressful situations

My prime method of problem-solving has typically been to remove myself from the harmful situation.

Easy enough, right? It’s a common solution that almost everyone uses.

If you’ve ever heard of the term “Fight or Flight”, then you’d know that we, as humans, share this common response mechanism with all other animal species.

In a perceived “dangerous” situation, we must protect our own safety and either stay and tough it out or leave and avoid the bumps and bruises.

I agree with the saying, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger?” but how much do we risk at the cost of causing ourselves pain and heartache?

I don’t want to call myself a wimp, but I’ve been leaning more towards the option of flight when it comes to my more recent problems.

I’ve dealt with a significant amount of obstacles this year which made me question my abilities to tolerate stressful situations.

I had to fly 20 hours from my home just to get away from the things that were causing me stress. Yes, it was a much-needed and uplifting trip, but to my disappointment, it’s now over and I’m right back to where I started and have to deal with the same exact problems that I left behind.

How do you decide what is worth fighting for or fleeing from? For example, do you fight for the one you love or do you let them go? Do you continue to work at a job that pays well, but you’re not passionate about?

Where is the threshold in which we need to remove ourselves from a given situation? How do we choose?

I suppose that’s up to the individual. After all, the decisions we make shape who we are.

“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” – If I stay

Return from Melbourne

I returned home from Melbourne last Wednesday and have been gradually adjusting back to my version of normality ever since. It’s not easy going from one way of life to a completely different way, but what I’ve learned is that it is necessary to step outside of your boundaries.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been re-evaluating my life much more than I did before. There is no doubt that I was in desperate need of this trip – If you’ve been keeping up with my past blog entries, you should have noticed that I’ve been anxious for quite some time. I’ve been anxious for something more than what I was settling for at home.

Before I left, I read an article on Thought Catalog called, “The Hardest Part of Traveling No One Talks About” and I was so excited to get away from it all – my job, my friends, my family, my problems. When I returned, I re-read this article and it took on a whole different meaning for me. One quote that struck me was this:

“They call it the travel bug, but really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English or Spanish or Mandarin or Portuguese, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn, then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown then you did in the most foreign place you visited”

At first, I agreed with a majority of the article up until I read this quote. Yes, I left, changed, grew, experienced, and learned things, but I wouldn’t say that I am more lost. If anything, I see things much more clearly than I did before. I realized what I missed – my friends, my family. And that’s what pulled me back and helped me re-adjust a little easier.

I certainly loved being in a foreign place, seeing amazing views, and exploring, but if anything, the best part of traveling is coming back home.

It’s true what they say, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

(To get a deeper look into my trip, check out my Instagram)