Unfortunately, it did not work out the way I thought. I got too depressed in the process to even take advantage of the opportunities. I might have had everything, but I could manage only school. Living and art were not quite a part of the New York deal. So I started looking for ways to be less unhappy, like boyfriends and any job that was not teaching.
The older I get, the more I realize how much time I wasted and how long I spent lost in the mists of this city. Having a child helped me get over the haziness, and getting sick woke me up. Still, I find it hard to manage sometimes, and am mostly hidden away in my studio. It is the place where I feel most comfortable, and hours go by so fast every day, I often wonder how I managed to waste so much time in the past, but nowadays it's gotten better. I might have my bad moments, but there is a drive and a hope in me that helps me get over the bad times. It has to do with being able to hide in my studio whenever I need and for as long as I need. Little by little, my life is mine again. Too bad the nice virtues have deteriorated...
The key to this "new" (by now, I guess, old...) state is working with what I have. I have no desire for degrees, or grand trips (unless they are art-related) or large toys. I just want to be here in stillness and do what I do. And what I do is really the synthesis of what I have done in the past as I looked to realize my dream.
Until about 2006, I would think of a "new career" every time I hated my present life. For a couple of months I wanted to be a make-up artist. I also wanted to be a counselor because my experience at Boricua College showed me I am pretty good at giving tons of advice that most people don't follow. (Good for them!!) I wanted to do a Ph.D. in Art History because I had promised the Mellon Foundation I would and I like to keep my promises. But Art History involves libraries, and unless it is the Public Library, where there is some noise and liveliness, I get depressed in libraries. There might have been a few more of these dreams, until one day I thought I was getting too old for that. I had lots of experience and what I really always wanted to do was art.
So I reviewed my arsenal: I could write because I wrote tons of art history papers in college; I could listen to people and interpret what they feel and want, so I can create commissions; I could teach because I have an art education degree and you get better at any teaching type as you get older (young and petite teacher do not inspire any sort of respect in Junior High students...) and I could learn everything new I needed to learn by reading books, since that's what I used to do in college anyway.
I think that by the time you are 30 or so, if you have somehow managed to survive and make a living (even a bad one) you will have a ton of skills that you can use and that are free (except for the blood and tears you already paid for them...)
So ever since then, I have been much happier, saved more than $100,000 in tuition and focused on growing the skills I possessed already and applying them to realizing my dreams. I can now report that half a million people visited my Ángeles y milagros site last month, that I called a contractor to build a bathroom in my studio so I can be here longer, and that, while I may not paint every day, my artwork is the center of my everyday work. I have no debt, I have my family, and I have enough. And that's more than good for me.
In my not so humble opinion, to make life work All you really need to find out is what your dream truly is. Chances are you are already halfway there, and need to work less to attain it than if you start working on a new, spur of the moment, frustration induced, transitory dream. Unless you want a complete change, but that's definitely not my area of expertise.