“I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.”
I haven’t had a one year anniversary with anything in a very long time. But for some reason, my one year with New York seems to be the most significant, life changing date so far.
On May 26, 2015, I will have lived in this crazy, exciting, testing, and rewarding place for one year.
Since the big move from Michigan, I have moved within the city three times and the fourth move coming on May 31st. Calling me a
adult gypsy is definitely appropriate.
But just like finding my place physically in the city, I’ve also have been through more than I have ever anticipated emotionally. But hey, that’s adulthood, right? We can’t say they didn’t warn us.
A year ago I was 21 years old, packing up what I could fit into two suitcases at my parents’ house. I was a little terrified, really excited and absolutely sure that I would be moving right back to Michigan after my internship at People magazine ended in August.
Instead, I have been sent on a whirlwind journey of discovering myself in not only a new city, but at the same time figuring out what the heck adulthood means.
While it’s a move I suggest to every twenty-something, it’s had its moments where things are just— in one word— hard. I miss my family and my friends who know me best, every single day. I miss my dog. I miss the ease of feeling the cold grass on your feet and jumping in the car to go shopping. I miss the clean air and big spaces and open patios and open windows that only let in the sound of chirping birds. I miss being able to go to the store with my mom and watch bad TV with my dad. I miss knowing I can escape to the countryside and clear my mind in just a short car ride. I miss a big kitchen to move around in. Most of all I just miss feeling surrounded by what’s familiar and what I’ve known for the past 22 years.
No matter how much I try to just enjoy things here, the pain of all those things is always lingering in my mind, and I think that is the reason why I put so much emotion behind everything I do. It’s like an extra little weight that I’m not sure will sink in and just become part of me. It’s hard and it’s intense and it’s real, but at the same time, leaving college and becoming an adult is always going to be a year of growth and adjustment.
But if I were ever to move to New York City, work at the number one magazine in the world, and figure out myself on my own, 22 years old is the age to do it.
I learned (and am still learning) how to budget real person paychecks and the way to get from downtown to uptown (and the fact that downtown literally means the southern part of Manhattan and not Times Square, like us midwestern folks would assume).
I learned how to stand up for myself when I’m being treated wrongly — like when the Halal guy charges you $8 for a falafel pita when you know sure as hell they’re only $4.
I came to terms with the fact I am going to have a collection of umbrellas since I can never remember to bring one when it actually rains and I have to buy another one to avoid getting sopping wet.
I learned I don’t look amazing as a blonde and quickly dyed it back to my comfort zone after 3 weeks and $300 later (you live and you learn …).
I realized some of the best friends you have here are the ones you bring from home (here’s to you, Kelly and Carolyn).
I went out with too many boys who treated me like crap because they know well enough that they are 8.3 million other people in the city who they can drop you for in a second.
And then I met a man who makes all the scary parts disappear and feels like the part of me I’ve been yearning to meet. Someone who is so kind that he understands that being here alone isn’t easy. He’s the one person who can just sit next to me and not say a word and I suddenly feel the most at ease.
I found my place in the magazine world — the place where I am so eager to go to work everyday and be challenged and taught the importance of real-life journalism by some of the smartest and most talented editors I have ever met. A place where I can write stories that connect with humans on an emotional level and push them to take action. I get to meet people regularly who I’ve admired in films and in music for years and hear their honest stories or laugh with them about silly things their kids do.
I have also realized how I am truly alone here in the sense that it’s a place you come to develop yourself, by yourself. It’s a place where you come to make your own dreams come true and “no” is not an answer.
I’ve learned that there’s a reason people tell you to stay in college forever. Adulthood is the scariest thing I’ve encountered in awhile. It’s this mix of confusion, rewards, challenges, and most of all — loneliness. Despite having new friends and a boyfriend, I still call my best friends in Michigan and Chicago every single day. I still consider my best, true friends to be the ones waiting for me at home. It’s a really odd feeling to not be able to go to your parents’ house for the weekend as a “quick trip” and even more odd to not being able to stop by their house for dinner.
Becoming an adult is like being dropped into a sea of equations that you hope you’re prepared for but no one really knows how to prepare you for it (you know, like the ACTs).
I still eat really poorly and probably don’t match my clothes as often as I should.
I still think farting is really funny and eat bags of sour gummy worms at my work desk.
I still act emotionally immature because I’m twenty-two and don’t have it all figured out.
I still call my mom crying.
But I’m growing. And living in the city expedites and ignites the growth in unbelievable ways.
I don’t know what the next year will bring me. But a year ago I never would’ve thought I’d still be here, working at my dream job and dating my dream guy. It’s a fantasy I always had and something that I’m still learning emotionally how to handle. Having everything you’ve ever wanted in your hands suddenly makes it feel so fragile after you’ve been digging so deep and striving so hard for it.
But to have those things, even if they feel incredibly fragile, I thank you New York. Thank you for making me into the person I am supposed to be.
Cheers to an incredible first year.