21 weeks in NYC! Why's the big 2-1 so significant, you ask?
Well for many of us in the Estados Unidos (Spanish for United States) that's that ripe ol' age (years tho not weeks) when the government officially let's use consume alcohol. For me, it's just a nice little checkpoint to turn right round, pull a 180 and look to see what's befallen that gnarly pair of Stan Smiths I've just replaced.
21 weeks in the best city in the world freshly graduated from college and sitting pretty at 24.
So how bout some o' dem phat lessons that currently are a'swirlin' around at the front of my brain?
"ya got two ears and one mouth"
Priority numero 1 moving to NYC with a new job, new friends, new roommates was the timeless wisdom to ask of others "all of the things". Many who know me know me as quite the talker but I believe that with any new experiences first impressions are quite powerful. So... I show up to work the first couple weeks and I listen before I leap into all of the things. I at least try to anyways. Nobody quite likes a "pot stirrer". And although I usually don't intend to step on toes I do like to sort of take the "breadth first search" approach to life and ask all the things. Sorry to anybody that has ever heard one of my "why do it that way"s!
between the sirens, between cars honkin', between all the general street noise, find the quiet
It's quite easy to just add to the noise and move about the day on my own mission. Por ejemplo, usually every morning I set out upon my journey to work over to 2nd Ave and F down to York St eyes glued to my latest book (currently GEB "Godel, Escher, Bach") walking on autopilot. Thank the Lord for all that training as a youngin' with my Gameboy machine learning my subconscious to check my periphery for "dangers". That said, there's nothing better than waking up a little bit earlier and having a nice stretch on the balcony without any music or anything and just sorta take in the city. I also tend to take lunch on my own for a good ol' brain break. Working down here in DUMBO I grab some Sweetgreen and head down to Brooklyn Bridge park, eat my salaaaaad and either meditate/nap a little bit or read my book. One of the workers at Sweetgreen named Rae actually asked me for some advice on reading material!
"under promise, over deliver"
At least for work... I remember when I was a kid I used to be a little upset and some of my friends who were rewarded for good work in school. To me, it was just sort of expected. There was no reward because that sort of thing isn't necessarily supposed to be rewardable when it's the default. Well somewhere around middle/high school I realized that this is kind of an introduction to psychological warfare for us kiddos! Take some of them on-level classes early on and get the GPA buffer and then ramp up later and everyone's like "woah". Well fast forward to 24 and working 40+ hours a week and you take that as a lesson to live by no for anyone else's psyche but your own. Give yourself the padding for "me time". Yes when you need to bust your ass and have a super stellar week but for the most part go by the 80-20 rule. 80% their time, 20% you time. That's what the under promise is for. Scatter in the over-deliveries. Now this for sure doesn't mean to slack off. That 20% time is for you to be productive for you. For yourself. Knowing that work isn't just the treadmill you're riding til you die. Work is the machine for experience and through that experience: wisdom.
note all of the things
It's amazing how well I knew the city in my first couple weeks because I paid attention. I procedurally analyzed the metro/subway as I went so that if I was ever in a bind I could just sort of let autopilot take over and walah I could magically get somewhere. Otherwise, there's just so many experiences that your brain can't necessarily process all at once. I write a daily journal entry for the most part that is all of the links from my internet perusing. I start ever place on Google Maps that someone tells me about or I visit such that when I'm in any part of the city I have a nearby star to at least check out. But most importantly, make note of the feelings. Observe what on Earth is taking hold of you. That thought of your long-time ex or that smell of walking past the Italian joint that reminds ya of Grammy. Pictures with your brain.
never do anything without a "why?"
To be quite honest, the only reason I'm here in NYC is because my grandparents kicked my ass right as I was graduating college telling me to FIND A DAMN JOB. Well now cool, all and well but I sacrificed my moral compass expecting to "do my time" at some finance bro non-technical company doing some spreadsheet work. Ultimately, I lucked out. I did not expect to jump into a role like here at Amplify where the tools and products I'm working on will now be used by every elementary schooler that goes to New York City public schools next year and the year after and the year after, indefinitely, hopefully. And it's challenging. I work for the kids. I work for myself trying to learn something new at every corner. I do it for them too, yeah the company, but the "whys" at the top of the totem pole are far more important.
Q: Why do I do software engineering consulting?
A: Because I want exposure to many different circumstances and technologies early in my career. I love to be able to draw some connections between two seemingly separate domains that maybe could share some infrastructure in common. I don't want a project right now that has a no foreseeable end.
Q: Why do I live in NYC?
A: Europe wasn't the best decision career wise at the beginning (right out of school) because I'd honestly not have any concept of "what I'm worth". But the people, the culture, the experiences. This is what I was greatly lacking after coming home from a ~year in Barcelona, Spain. NYC offers the culture of the whole world in a great industrial melting pot with competitive salaries to get on track to a life like the one my parents built for me.
Q: Why did I choose to live with 4 strangers?
A: College friends, high school friends, friends of friends. The circle grows from there but often I find that the values tend to echo and the aisle isn't necessarily crossed all that often as you fan out this way. Back to Spain, I wanted wholly new people and experiences that a new friend group through new roommates could offer me. Thank God for Erum (GBR), Oriane (FRA), Dom (DEU), Ross (SCT) and now Giovanni (ITL).
if you ain't getting better, you're getting worse
Through thick, through thin, through the deepest muck there is I've attempted to maintain a mental model for how I gauge happiness: Wake up every day at net 0 and life is a series of discrete pluses and minuses but caveat simply that you can't go negative on the day which means that you either simply did not get better or that you got marginally better or you grew TONS. It's stupid simple but hell if this stuff works...
let's build a community!
If this article resonated with you any single iota would you possibly mind giving me a quick shout-out on Twitter so that I know you're there? Thank yaaaaaa!
Love you, fam.