In August of 2013, I moved to New York City to attend school and start a life where I thought I’d be forever. Two years after that, I made the hard decision to move away. I never regretted taking the plunge of moving to a city where I knew no one, but I was extremely disillusioned.
After one year back living in a city where I feel greatly at home and comfortable, I am preparing, once again, to return to the city equally loved and hated by all. Everyone has imagined what his or her life would be like living in New York. Most reiterate the popular phrase, “It’s fun to visit, but I could never live there.” Should you decide to make the move and tread those paths epitomized by artists and dreamers for decades, these are the things I wish someone had told me the first time I moved to New York.
1. Don’t expect to have plans every single night. You will not be running around the city bright-eyed and a little tipsy, holding the hand of a cute boy who rides motorcycles every evening. (But sometimes you will).
2. Go at your own pace. There is very little sense of time in New York and that means that people accomplish goals at their own rhythm.
3. Immediate gratification isn’t everything. But neither is looking forward to the future 24/7. Try your best to find a happy medium, and don’t be discouraged when you fail at this.
4. Put your goddamn phone down.
5. Befriend the corner cart man by your work or apartment. They will always give you the stale food at the end of the night when you’ve had a rough day. They genuinely care.
6. Buy a bike. It’s the best way to get to really know the city. And not only will it make you feel more comfortable in the city, you will also be able to get to places way faster, and that is the most comforting feeling you can ever have in New York.
7. Don’t expect to be best friends with people at your job, school, or whatever it is that you are doing. Consider yourself lucky if you are even friends with them while at said workspace.
8. Contemplate moving back home. Be okay if you realize it’s the best option.
9. Accomplish goals and attend events for credibility, but know that sometimes that’s all it is.
10. Please be prepared to be let down. Life is life here, just like anywhere else. I can’t stress that enough. You are not going to change. Your family will always be your family. You will slowly start to dress better, but for the love of God, don’t expect your wardrobe to change over night. You will not look magically sexy at every waking hour – even if you work in the fashion industry.
11. Along that same note, don’t expect your values to suddenly change. Yes, your beliefs may change, but you will remain the same squeamish, fearful, and annoying person you were before. You will not magically lose your annoying qualities and become someone spectacular.
12. Know and realize that your relationships with other people, particularly your friends and family, are truly what make life worth living. This doesn’t change when you move to New York, or anywhere. Make sure that you make and keep friends along the way. Don’t be too stubborn for them, don’t be too good for them, and don’t be too cool for them. Everyone needs someone to hang out with and to do nothing with.
13. It takes major guts to slow down and accept a city as your home. That doesn’t get easier to do, even if the city is New York City. If anything, it becomes harder because it is so hard to live here.
14. There is a reason people say their relationship with New York is a LOVE/HATE relationship. That is 50% HATE, people – 50%!