Lessons From Your First Year In New York City

On September 1st, 2015, I left what I knew of home to create my own.

I moved to New York City.

There’s something about those words that when strung together create pure magic. There’s this undeniable and universally understood emotion and imagery that’s attached to this sentiment. “Moving to New York” becomes so much more than that thing you did that one time.

You consume it like a book you can’t put down. The city becomes more than just a place on a map or that snow globe that sits on your bedside table.

It becomes a character in your life’s trials and tribulations. It becomes a part of you whether you choose to absorb it like a sponge or not.

It’s jam-packed crowded; it’s the peak of loneliness. It’s as cutthroat as it is forgiving. It’s a fantasy, it’s a slap-in-the-face reality. It’s a living and breathing contradiction. It’s a city; it’s an island.

And you learn from it.

It’s jumbled and chaotic. It’s unapologetic at best. It’s blunt, off-putting, and purposeful. It’s mastering the art of telling someone to f*ck off. It’s living in a world of shoulder-to-shoulder train rides surrounded by people who are too scared to say hello. It’s learning how to speak your mind when it feels like no one else is.

It does not ask whether it’s for here or to go, but rather, to stay or to go. You’re forced to hang out with yourself and no one else, and you’re applauded for it, not pitied.

And no matter what side you’re straddling on, you’re understood.

It can feel like the whole wide world at your fingertips. It’s rejection. It’s acceptance. It’s control. It’s what fate lies in the cards. It’s the destiny for yourself you create like putty in your hands.

It’s the appreciation of the candid moments. The times we slow our pace and look up. The times we breathe in and take in why making it here means you can make it anywhere. It’s surpassing the odds. It’s $1 pizza past midnight.

It’s beauty dwelling into madness. It’s taking your vulnerability by its very core and running wild with it.

It’s dancing around under skyscrapers that cast shadows over us and remind us that we’re never really alone. It’s intoxication under city lights. It’s surviving a life in closet-sized apartments, so small there’s no room for us to hide. It’s the electricity that brought us here in the first place.

It’s finding your place when you were never sure if you had one.

They say in order to say “I love you”, one must learn how to say “I”.

And that’s the best part of all. To make it in this city, you must accomplish just that. And for that and for so much more, I’ve fallen. 

… But, maybe you just had to be there to get it.

It’s up to you, New York.

Thinking of moving to NYC? Check out this neighborhood guide.

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