Leaving Manhattan

I think the quarter life crisis is more common than we think. And even if it does happen around the 25-year mark, it certainly isn’t a one day—or even a one year, type of deal. Every Saturday morning I wake up in my 400 square foot apartment, split between three people, and I panic.

The walls of the city start to crash in on me and suddenly I feel short of breath. Do I like my career? Do I love my career? Do I like living in this overpriced, filthy shithole? But then again, what’s better than the buzz of the city around the holidays? And where else can you find the variety in culture? I waver back and forth while I frantically clean my apartment, looking for more space to breathe. I just need space to breathe. I need space and friendships that are true. I need space to foster true friendships. I need air. Cue exhaustion. It’s 11:12 in the morning.

Here in Manhattan, we are the movers and shakers. We live life to the hilt because we are deathly afraid of standing still. We are afraid of complacency. We will not settle until we are great, until we have great careers, great amounts of wealth, great relationships, great sex, great attention. We’ve all come to the same place to find the same things, none of us willing to settle for the things we’ve found. We’ve come to the most challenging city in America so that we can say we put our blood, sweat, and tears into the life we have. None of us willing to settle, none of us finding anything to settle for.

I often think about life outside the city. Cars and space, reasonably priced food, and the way a fresh mowed lawn smells. On Saturday mornings like this one, I think that by the end of the week I’ll be gone. The things that keep me alive are not here among the concrete. The things that sustain my existence are the ocean breeze, the sun on my face and sweet smell of the barbeque mixing with the sound of good friends mingling.

The hardest part about leaving the city is the idea of quitting. If I quit Manhattan, then I become a quitter. And when you’re a mover and a shaker, you’re not a quitter. To quit anything is bad form. I think about the glamorous image living in Manhattan, (land of Carrie Bradshaw) portrays to people—the fabulous dinners, the trendy drinks, the socialite sexiness. If I were to toss in the towel on living here, am I taking myself out of the race for success? I’m too competitive for that and I’ve certainly come too far. But man-oh-man…one more weekend filled with meaningless bar banter and pretentious assholes and I very well could up and, dare I say it, finally leave?

And so, I panic. Am I wasting the best years of my life in a place I’m not completely happy with, among others who are also not completely happy? But if I leave, will I find true happiness? And so the tug-o-war continues. I love my career but I often wonder if it’s worth living in a place I hardly like.

What about the quote that says happiness is a way of travel, not a destination? Whoever said that clearly didn’t live in Manhattan. TC mark

image – leo-seta


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  • http://profiles.google.com/mcblaloc Meghan Blalock

    If you “hardly like” it, you should leave.

    That said, true happiness is a verb, not a noun. If you move somewhere with lots of sunshine, ocean breezes and freshly mowed grass, you won't find happiness – viola! here it is! It's not like that. It's not a thing waiting for you to find it; it's a potentiality you already have.

    • PhermonousFan

      No you don't understand, living in NYC means complaining about it at every opportunity but defending it when anyone dares to say their city is better.

  • Madrigal

    Manhattan can eat shit.

  • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

    I was pleased when I left.  Initially I felt exactly like you stated, like a quitter.  I felt shameful coming back home with my tail between my legs.  That feeling will go away.  For me, it was immediately when I realized I simply couldn't afford the lifestyle I like the lead in NYC.  And if you're not doing all the things you enjoy, what's the point?  The constance struggle and the peanut butter and jelly/falefel diet?  Absolutely not worth it.  Now I go up to visit, I eat at that fancy restaurant, I couldn't afford.  I buy the clothes I glanced at wistfully and then I pack it up, and come back home, relieved (albeit with an empty pocket).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    I left it but I want to go back.

    • http://www.guidetomenhattan.com Rachel

      I”m afraid this is how I will feel…

  • Moleigh


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      Thank you.   We fixed the error.

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        a comment from Thought Catalog is like seeing a super-rare Pokemon. like seeing the principal in 'Doug'.

  • Mary Quite-contrary

    this is shitty

  • http://www.facebook.com/sasjam Sas Jam

    I just moved to Manhattan a few weeks ago (from sunny So Cal) and I'm totally getting it.
    I've no idea where to start this “road to success/happiness” but going back while only accomplishing the art of alcoholism and nicer shoes would sound like failure to everyone back home. This city should be an appropriate motivator, a 2-liter bottle of 190 proof Man-Up.

  • Bahstan

    I one hundred percent empathize and understand. Thanks for this.

  • gurl u know

    ugh. so tired of these “NYC is so amazing, you don't understand, i want to leave but i am just sooo competitve omg, if i leave i will die and become a nobody and never have a job”. get over it. there are other places in the world and other ways to live.

    • xra

      liked as fuck

    • ScottW

      Yes. You're going to die a nobody anyone. That's good. It means you can have fun while alive.

  • http://twitter.com/LadyBlueShame ✔ Lady Blue

    Solution… live in Long Island and commute into the city for work. It's all the suburbia you'd want.

  • Raz

    Goodbye to all that – Didion. Jump on it.

  • bxbbcr
  • Pfft

    please, dear god, do not move to brooklyn. there are already too many of you boring fuckers.

  • bxbbcr
  • Pig

    Whoever wrote this is mad corny.  Just go back to where you're from, who cares?  There are a million cities.  I grew up here and I am here because It's what I know and it's where my family is.

    This “essay” is so annoying.

    • SDR

      Exactly, you're “here because it's what you know.” And for that reason, you'll really never “know” anything more. The whole purpose of this article is about finding and creating the best life possible, not sitting around in the life you were given.

      High-five for putting it out there kid. Definitely gives me something to think about.

  • The Truth

    Wow – this says it all 

    “Despite being a born and bread New Englander, Kate left her heart on the beaches of California after college. She moved to the big city to work in the glossy world of magazines and in addition, has a true enthusiasm (some may say obsession) for cupcakes. She’s truly an old soul and someday she’ll get her thoughts together enough to write a book about the adventures of being a twenty-something surviving in Manhattan.”Not the “bread” spelling error too, on a “writer”'s bio.Give up the dream, Carrie.

    • Trent

      Get a dream. Stop criticizing hers.

  • Teukros

    I'm a huge fan of Manhattan, and when I leave, I won't miss it.

    This has nothing to do with Manhattan and everything to do with you and getting your shit together.

  • lula

    400 square feet split between 3 people?! are you kidding me?  I lived in Manhattan, and even I think that's ridiculous!

  • Blackbird

    I’m about to leave Manhattan and this is how I feel. I’m planning to get an apartment here just to keep my address and my own place.

    “Here in Manhattan, we are the movers and shakers. We live life to the hilt because we are deathly afraid of standing still. “

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