On August 28, 2012, I moved to New York. I had two giant suitcases, a subleased apartment off of Craigslist and no job fresh out of law school. Fast forward two years later and I can’t even begin to describe to you the transformation I’ve experienced.
I can’t say I ever had any life-long aspirations to live in New York City. I first visited with my family back in 1994, where my two most vivid memories were: 1) accidentally dropping my stuffed animal into the gutter after climbing out of a cab and 2) a kid pissing on the streets of Chinatown. Not necessarily the kind of stuff dreams are made of.
But I came back to visit one of my best friends in 2010. And again in 2011. And in between that, I watched enough episodes of Gossip Girl to sort of pretend to know that this might the city that was maybe for me.
These days, however, I can tell you with confidence that New York is my hood. That the job I have now is my passion. That the friends I have here are my second family. And that my tiny fourth floor walk-up apartment is my home. I promise you, it didn’t all happen at once. But it happened and is still evolving as we speak.
After a meager two years living in the city, I am by no means a New Yorker, but I can grumble at the tourists and the costumed characters in Times Square like the best of them. With that, I want to share five lessons that I’ve learned while living in New York that might be just as applicable anywhere else in the world.
Keep Hustlin’. Moving here was barely 5% of the battle. Getting a job, finding an apartment, meeting new people and making this city a place I could call home was the other 95%. Like I said, it didn’t happen all at once. I first landed in a job that just wasn’t the right fit. I tried meeting new people via a site that was like dating, but for friends. While I was searching for a job, I put my photography skills to use and shot a wedding and took headshots for people off of Craigslist. I also basically signed away my unborn children’s college tuition in brokers’ fees for the apartment we’re living in now. Being down and out never felt discouraging. Instead, it was enough to light the fuel that keeps me going, to always be improving and to never stop hustling.
Say Yes. There’s no time like the present. And if you’re going to take a chance on something or someone, you might as well do it now. Back in 2012, I bought my admission to a blogger conference before I even secured my one-way ticket to New York. Because of that conference, I have an incredible network of friends in New York and all over the country. Whenever an invite comes my way, I try my reasonable best to say yes, because you never know what crazy adventure you might end up on.
Don’t Pick Favorites. Whenever someone asks me what my favorite restaurant in New York is, I’m genuinely at a loss for an answer. There are over 16,000 places to choose from (not an exaggeration), so why would I choose just one? The beauty of New York is that no matter how long you’ve lived here, it’s always evolving and there is always something to explore. It’s rare that you’ll ever see me dining at the same place or hanging out in the same spot more than once. I have an endless to-do list of places I want to see and things I want to try and that’s just the way I like it.
Get Cozy. With over 8 million people in NYC, you should be ready to lower your expectations of privacy. Whether you’re standing shoulder to shoulder on the subway during your morning commute or eating dinner at a restaurant while seated six inches away from the next party, you learn to make the best of it. If you’re open about it, you might encounter someone in the 20-minute line at Trader Joe’s who’ll give you incredible recipes to try for dinner. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll be privy to (read: close enough to eavesdrop on) an outrageous conversation between strangers.
Never Settle. The main reason why I moved to New York was because I was born, raised and educated in Arizona and I just wasn’t ready for that to be my entire life story. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or my career after I graduated, but I knew that I didn’t want to settle for whatever was the easiest or most convenient. So naturally, I moved across the country. The challenges and opportunities that I’ve encountered over the past two years have taught me more than I ever thought I could learn and helped me grow more than I ever thought I could expand. And the best of all, I’m no where close to being done.
Thank you for following me on this incredible journey! The past two years have been a wild ride and I promise you, it’s only going to get better from here. xx