It’s official. Today is the one year anniversary of my having packed up everything in my life and moved to New York. I got a chill just typing that out. I still can’t believe it’s been a year. And though I’m probably just another twenty-something reflecting into the void of Internet narcissism, I feel like I have some thoughts that I’d like to share.
This is a milestone for me. Other people have different milestones, but I knew when I moved here that if I was still happy with everything when I’d hit a year, I was going to be able to make it work. I’ve made it. I’m happy, to make the understatement of the year. My next milestone is turning 25 next May, and even though it feels like that should be the more important marker in my life, it’s not. Moving to New York has by far been the most monumental decision I’ve made in my life, and I’m not sure anything will change that. At least, not anytime soon.
One thing I’ve done is read accounts of people who move to New York for no real other reason than that they wanted to live in The Greatest City In The World ™. And, without fail, the one thing I have read over and over again was that the first year was the hardest. There will never be a time when you are more broke, filled with more despair, and wondering just how long you can continue this facade of hating yourself and hoping that if you can just make it past a year, a magical switch will flip and you will become successful. Or, at least, you’ll be able to escape this spiral of self-loathing and feel moderately content with where you’ve gotten.
I don’t know about any actual magical switches, but I will say that there is something suspiciously accurate about the one year mark. With almost exactly one year, to the day, of my anniversary of moving to the city, I can now say that I am working in two jobs that I could not possibly love more and that I’ve filled my life with the greatest people I’ve ever known. I could not be happier. My life could not be better. If I’ve been lax on blogging lately, it’s because I’m out with friends almost every night, and I’m financially stable in a way that I have never been as an adult.
Before I moved, a friend of mine from home gave me a gift: a beautiful silver keychain heart with the engraving ‘Faithful Optimism’. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year, it’s that you have to be optimistic and you have to have faith in yourself, and that’s what you need to push through. You’ll also need help from other people, and maybe you’ll have to borrow money sometimes, and maybe you’ll have to ask for directions, and maybe it’ll be really humiliating because you really want to make it on your own and it’s a horrible feeling when you can’t. But eventually, you’ll pull through. You’ll meet the right people and get involved in the right crowds, and you’ll make the transition into being an adult.
There’s really something to be said for flexibility. When I moved to New York, I had a very specific plan for what I wanted to do and how I was going to get there. To put it succinctly, that plan did not work out. However, I took my opportunities where I could get them and made my networking connections and tried to find happiness where I could, and in the last month I’ve found that I could not be happier. I have two jobs that I love more than I’ve ever loved anything, and neither of them are something I ever thought I would end up doing. I mean, before I moved to NYC, working for a start-up wasn’t even on my radar, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I thrive on hard work and being busy and working long hours for something I love with a team of people who are just the same, and this kind of environment is perfect.
The crazy thing about catching a break in New York is that you feel like you don’t deserve it. The other shoe seems always about to drop. If you can slow down for just a second, though, let the adrenaline wash over you while you take a second to think about everything that’s happened to you, nothing can be more rewarding. Because you do deserve it. If you live here, you deserve to be happy. If you’ve made it here, you should be happy about it. The only person who can really make you feel like you don’t deserve to be happy is yourself. It’s easy to get down because you’re working so hard, nose so close to the grindstone, that you lose sight of the bigger picture and the reason you’re working. It’s really easy. But keep one eye on the reason you chose to live in New York, because you deserve to feel happy for how hard you’ve worked. You do deserve happiness and you deserve to catch your breath once in a while.
No, it’s not for everyone, and maybe it’s not always forever. I can’t see myself leaving anytime soon, but I really can’t say whether I’m going to live in New York for the rest of my life. There are so many other places in the world I want to see. I’m incredibly happy right now and there’s nothing I would change, but I also know that should I ever get tired, should living here ever stop being fun, should things get more difficult than I want them to be, then I’ll know it’s time to move on. There are no contingency plans as of yet, but it’s all about my perspective–if I’m ever so unhappy or depressed or poor that living here isn’t any fun, I’ll know it’s time. Of course, the first six months were a combination of the three, because I didn’t know anyone and finding a job was so much harder than I imagined, but once I made it out of the initial transition, it’s like I’m living a dream. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me, for right now, for as far as I can presently see.
The last year of my life has been absolutely irreplaceable, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. It’s been up and down, for sure, but the ups have outweighed the downs more heavily than I can ever explain. Once I made the decision to move, it was always about moving forward and knowing that better was coming. It’s been a long twelve months, but I always knew it was going to be worth it. And I was right. Every single moment has been worth it, even the hard times, because more than ever I know who I am, who I want to be, and where I want to go with my life. And that’s something I’ll always keep close to my heart.