My First Month in New York: Managing Expectations

Being fragile and vulnerable to address my issues these past few weeks have given me enough clarity to figure out the things that matter to me at this point in time. I’m writing this and it’s been seven days of no app checking and maybe just once a day checking of Facebook (mostly just to chat with friends and family). I love the quiet. I forgot I craved this for the longest time.

The silence and freedom has helped me focus on myself more. Is it a good thing? I guess. I only assume I know myself to a certain level, but now that I’m older, I really do know my limits. It’s just been roughly a month since I arrived here in New York and I’ve changed a lot. Interesting how a place can just…change you in that way.

Did I mention how nice it is to not have to be updating my Instagram 24/7??? Here’s how life has been so far. Of course, I still document everything for the memz ~

Painting on a quiet Saturday afternoon is my new favorite me-time

Went to the NY Art Book Fair with Amber. We had Thai food after! I was so happy. Lol.

New tote I got from the book fair…because I can totes (ooh) imagine myself saying that in a very sarcastic tone.

(Thanks for the mail, Koko and Chinggay!)

Last weekend I was out and about even if the G train was down, lol. Had brunch with Adam and Mitchell, two lovely people. I met Adam in Graphika Manila last February and he’s an amazing artist and author based in Brooklyn (he has cool books out in the market and you should definitely get a copy for yourself).

I had a bad episode of…idk what to call it (mental breakdown? severe burnout? almost giving up on my career?) last week (as indicated in this post). The cure? A night well-spent with Hank and John Green (also, eep, signed copy of AART!). I finally met John Green IRL! Did you know the first artwork I hand lettered was from Looking for Alaska?

I had ramyun earlier that day coupled with some tears. TBH, I still can’t poach an egg. :<

Fall colors! I totally copped this Madewell top because it was on sale (ugh, excuses) and my school outfit is always a shirt, jeans, and jacket. That’s it. Also, there’s a nearby Japanese grocery called Sunrise Mart in SoHo—so guess where my weekly lunch go-to place is? *cries*

I needed to get a tripod for plein air class (ugh, bye money) but I also needed one to film my videos, so yay, more stuff coming soon. I updated my channel with some of my current NYC journaling things (yes, I got a basket and some organizers like a true OC person lol):

Decided to run at noon because it was freezing cold last Friday. This is my “I’m tired but I can’t believe I’m actually running” face.

Running has been teaching me a lot of things, particularly the importance of keeping a steady pace, and not to rush things too much (applies to all aspects in life, if you’ve noticed). Still a work in progress!

Explored Chinatown with Carly! Carly is one of Kaila’s friends and I’m so glad we got to meet up. I’m a very selective person when it comes to friends and I am just so grateful for the people I’ve been meeting in this city. 🙂 Just goes to show that having the same values and mindsets really help establish how I get to build relationships with people.

Goosebumps seeing this banner this year. Last year I was here touring the campus and telling myself, “I’ll make a way to be back here to study”.

This late brunch photo deserves to be posted here because it was this day that I had a light bulb moment for one of the projects I’ve been brewing…and it’s so far out from what I’ve done so far. I can’t wait to share it with you all but it has to be kept secret for now. 😛

I met one of my heroes, David Levithan, and I AM NOT OVER IT. I am not. This is so surreal and I am so grateful this happened.

If you’ve read my blog / Tumblr since 2013 you have probably seen me hand-letter his quotes or talk about how much I love Every Day, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, and so much more. Here’s the thing; David Levithan opened up my world to beautifully written and heartfelt stories—I remember I was in tears reading Every Day. I still reread most of his books especially The Lover’s Dictionary (I love his Twitter account by the way) and I have always, always said I would want to meet him someday. Well, that someday finally came!


Some notes from my first month in New York:

  • Hoodies feel like a warm hug. Like, they really do. I just put on a shirt, a hoodie, jeans, sneakers and run off to do errands. I’ve never been this happy over a piece of clothing, tbh. (And if you know me, I never liked hoodies!)
  • I have two art classes and design classes (four in total). I’m quite surprised I like design classes better—they make me think beyond the usual. Art class is giving me so much insecurity; I now realize how grateful I am I didn’t take up art as a degree. I’d probably drop out first thing.
  • Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Ask specifically, and people will respond. People are nice, you have to smile more often and make them feel important to you. Case in point: I’m really terrified of post office people so last week I was nice and asked questions. And the clerk didn’t get mad. Achievement? Yay!
  • How wonderful it is to be in this chaos of people in the subway, and realizing you are just a tiny dot in this universe? That your problems are little things that don’t really matter in the big picture of life. It’s a crazy analogy, but I have always felt like this. It’s nice to remember that feeling here.
  • But also tbh seeing so many people every day is just exhausting. I never end the day here not feeling tired unless I stay home. New York is that overwhelming, coupled with lots of walking.
  • An economically correct decision: choosing a $6.40 brunch meal (eggs, sausage, toast + $1 coffee) over a $5 oat milk latte plus tax. I now know where to dine if I’m lazy to cook at home. Also: preparing sandwiches for school dinners save so much money. This is college all over again, tbh.
  • Living in New York is not the same as visiting it. I haven’t even explored most of the go-to places here and I’m too caught up getting my daily sh*t together, you know? It’s crazy.

Since we’re here, thought I’d share about some things I’ve been consuming lately…

Books on my desk:

  • You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero (done and loved it)
  • Goodbye to All That, edited by Sari Botton (halfway!)
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (I’ve been running so it’s apt to be reading this memoir, which I find very insightful.)
  • Someday by David Levithan

Podcasts I’ve been listening to:

Music on my current playlist:

I’ll be honest and say that I did not see all of this coming. I expected my stay here to be…ermm…I can’t describe it. Okay? I did know I was not going to see the city the same way again, from the starry-eyed self I was last year. I don’t hate that fact. It actually grounds me—you’d think New York is this glamorous place and it’s been romanticized that way…but when you look at how days go, you realize how mundane it is, how simple it is. But also, at the same time, very complex. It’s like this hodge podge of different people, different places, and you just have to keep up with the pace. I walk faster now, not because I’m rushing, but it’s what I picked up from a month of living in NYC.

I still have three months and I’ve felt a bit homesick the past few weeks. But I’m not one to give up easily; I’ll stick it out. October’s another story; I’ll let it unfold as I take my next flight to one of my dream destinations. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that choosing to take this time off is one of the better decisions I’ve made so far this year. That’s something I’d attest to for the rest of my life.

Until then!