My Best/Worst Decision by Rylie Cooke

Ironically I was wearing an “I heart New York” t-shirt when I broke down after finding my acceptance letter to Parsons School of Design in New York in my junk-mail inbox.

When I graduated from a highly academic all-girls private school in Brisbane, Australia I applied for a university ten minutes from home as everyone from high school did. A few weeks later my best guy friend messaged me a list of the top design schools in the world and told me to apply to all of them, or he’d apply for me. I laughed it off before looking into Parsons New York, which his little sister had suggested. It was one of my favorite cities in the world, having been many times when I was younger, and I was about to embark on my first solo trip there a few weeks following.

So at 17 I had handed in my Parsons application after months of preparing it and boarded a plane for my first solo trip to New York. After 24 hours traveling I had arrived at my hotel only to find out that I couldn’t check in to my room because I was not 18, as New York state law required. So I sat in the hotel lobby crying emotionally into my Kate Spade scarf until the beanie-adorned-tattooed concierge came over and gave me a hug. Three hours later my guardian angel (in the form of a design guru named called Francesco who my mum worked with once) came to check me in.

The next morning even after all of the previous nights drama, I got up, got a coffee and went out for the day. As I walked the streets I had never felt more myself, so care free, so at home with whom I was. It was an experience I found myself unable to describe to anyone.

After five weeks of traveling I was home.

Thinking about my trip and about my pending application to Parsons I got early acceptance into the Brisbane university I had applied for and started there, not wanting to hold out for the slim chance I would get into Parsons. I loved university, I loved what I was doing, I loved my family, my friends, my boyfriend, and I could hardly imagine what would happen if I was of the thirty odd percent to get in.

When my boyfriend broke up with me and my cousin told me “everything happens for a reason” I just couldn’t believe her. The worst decision I could have made would have been to not go to New York because of someone else, but once I was accepted into Parsons on a scholarship I realized that everything does happen for a reason, and possibly the best decision I could make was waiting to be made.

A few months later I was alone in a studio apartment, my family on a flight back to Australia, left with the overwhelming wave of “oh my god I’m alone” alongside a wave of “do I know how to turn on the oven.”

I worked out the oven.

I turned nineteen this year and after a year of living alone in New York I have learnt many things. From depositing my first cheque (which when handed to me I had no idea what it even was), to cooking my own meals and budgeting my limited savings and income.  

I was privileged enough to grow up with the catchphrase “a man is not a plan” quoted from my strong-as-hell head of year teacher in high school. The biggest lesson I have learnt so far is how to be alone. I don’t mean alone time from your nearest and dearest, I mean well and truly in your own apartment half way across the world from anyone you know alone.

Whilst I was learning and coming to terms with my newfound singularity I surrounded myself with people who made me smile, people who inspired me, and people who I would come to call my closest friends. I started working night shifts at a bar and interning at a magazine two days a week, throwing myself into a whirlwind of lack of sleep and constant-go. But I loved every minute of it; I thrived on meal prepping my food so that I would eat without busying myself for hours.

It may sound picture perfect and I can assure you it really almost is, but nothing is perfect and there were times when I struggled, times when my girlfriends and I cried into our Sweet green salads, and times when I broke down during my late night breaks at work. But I’d like to raise a glass of rosé to the nights I cried on my kitchen floor, celebrate the rough patches as what they are; just patches in a never-ending adventure.


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Rylie Cooke moved from Australia to New York to study at Parsons School of Design in the hopes of one day owning her own design company. She has many passions in the design industry including her love for graphic design, art, travel, fashion, writing, and videography. She has interned for Country Road Australia as a visual merchandiser and at Whitewall magazine as a graphic designer and fashion-journalism intern. In her spare time she can be found in the West Village drinking coffee, eating magnolia cupcakes and obsessing over french bulldogs.