Rik’s Life: Progress is a Process (On My One Year in New York City)

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“You can’t act like you’ve arrived when you’re just receiving the invitation.” -Sophia Amoruso

Last week marked year one of my move to the Big Apple. I must admit it was a speedy one; the kind that sneaks upon you if you’re not the type to simply sit back and roll with the punches (and I am not the type that just sits back and rolls with the punches). The day after I moved to New York City last year, I wrote a post like this one, which ended with the sentence: “I have finally found peace.” Am I at peace now? Let’s talk about that for a little while.

While in a romantic relationship, an ex would often recite a mantra when he was overwhelmed, “Progress is a process.” Although I often ignored its meaning during the time we were together, this year I have adopted it for myself, not necessarily in moments when I am overwhelmed, but as a daily reminder that things don’t come easily and that your story is so much greater with hard work its prelude. This mantra has helped me in my hunt for peace.

In the year since moving here, I’ve stumbled upon opportunities that were not in my plan–which was simply to come to graduate school. But I am slowly understanding that these opportunities are a part of the process to progress, and you must, without intention, take the good with the bad.

The good came in my academic success in my graduate program. It came in the various job opportunities relevant to my career. It came in attending New York Fashion Week both seasons. It came in planning and throwing parties at museums, attending rooftop parties, befriending designers, gaining new friends. It came in loving friends who were gracious enough to extend their couch to me when I was apartment hunting. It came in finding roommates who I can call friends. It continues to come in being able to pay my bills on time. Above all, it comes in laughing more than I cry.

Nevertheless, like an evil stepsister, the bad is often near the good. My bad came in issues with financial aid and graduate housing, which caused me to pack up all my belongings in December and place them into storage, take a flight back home to St. Louis with no clue to if I would return for my second semester. It came in moments of despair and utter loneliness and feeling exceptionally low. Although quite mundane, it came in frantically cold days walking to and from the train, trekking through snow and finally understanding that a simple sweater wasn’t going to cut it; layers were the only way to survive. It came in the many “I miss you” text messages from family. It came in the silence of libraries, where I often found myself.

It never fails: the bad finds a way of creeping upon you and making you forget the good. It floods your conscious, and in moments that have gotten more worse than better, I’ve often considered giving up–which I almost did, and I continue to almost do. But progress is a process, and as I remind myself of that, I’m suddenly humbled. This is a chance not many are granted. And I have to take the good with the bad if I am to make anything of it. I remember last year, where I was and who I was. I realize that if I had become stagnant in those moments of desperation, those moments of searching for peace within myself, I wouldn’t have been delighted in experiencing this particular good with this particular bad.

If there’s anything I’ve learned of myself this year, it’s that sharing myself in the right spaces, places and with the right people can help others. Transparency is key. My most consistent portrayal of this is when people ask me if I like New York. It’s interesting most times because they expect me to say that I love it, that I don’t want to leave, that it’s amazing, because that’s what facades are meant to lead people to believe. But in my transparency, I say that it is okay. Because right now it is just okay for me. Am I in love with it? Occasionally. Am I ready to pack up my apartment and take the next plane out of here? Often. Am I growing to understand that each day brings on a new love, a new hate, a new bout of laughter or tears, and that that’s okay? Absolutely.

In my post last year, I stated that I was closing a chapter and starting a new one. While that is true, the excitement surrounding that new chapter shadowed the reality that some pages were going to be tougher to read than others; that sometimes I would need to bookmark a certain section and return to it when I was ready, when I had the time to actualize the very act of reading and comprehending; that some days I’m going to be sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what’s next because the pages are so good, packed with juicy details and I just can’t wait until I can complete this chapter, this book. But books are like life, they are like what my ex would often say, a process, and I am taking it day by day, page by page.

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