The Big Apple, Concrete Jungle, City of Dreams, and the City that never sleeps. Whatever you call it, there’s a reason why NYC has affectionately adopted these nicknames. Everyone you meet in NYC is hustling hard, working overtime, or grinding ’til dawn it seems.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
When I first moved to NYC, I remember that giddy feeling of walking down the streets of Manhattan and feeling like you were nobody in the sea of faces, yet simultaneously feeling like you were “somebody” who had somehow “made it.” There’s a real energy and excitement that exists when you see the city for the first time and when you first move there, that feeling is amplified. But then there comes a time when the excitement “oh my God, I really live here” wears off and the reality that NYC isn’t all the glitz and glam as you see in the movies hits you. The routine sets in, the inconvenience of living in a highly populated city hits, and you develop that “love/hate” relationships with New York (If you’ve lived here, you know exactly that feeling–can I get an AMEN?!).
After living in NYC for four years and during some of the most formative years in my twenties (24-28), I certainly learned a lot about myself. Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned while living in NYC:
1. I don’t need to be anyone but myself.
According to a quick Google search, 1.6 million people live in Manhattan and another staggering 2.6 million people live in Brooklyn. In short: that’s a LOT OF PEOPLE. In a city so highly populated, there’s this feeling of being able to move through the city and never seeing the same people ever again. You see so many people out on the streets performing, putting themselves out there and risking it all to be discovered or the next big thing. And somehow, I found comfort in this. That everyone out here is just trying to make it work for themselves. I grew the most on a personal level while I lived in NY–I started to just do me without fear of what others thought. Because the reality is…1) Other people’s opinions really don’t matter and 2) Other people are so busy on their own hustle to worry about what you’re doing. And blogging certainly helped with this. I mean, did I take a million photos in front of people and give them free entertainment? Oh yes, yes I did.
2. I am capable of anything I set my mind to.
Okay, a little cliche, but oh so true. I remember living in D.C. and finishing up my two years with Teach For America. I was set on staying in D.C. and applied for at least 5-6 teaching jobs in D.C. But then some doors closed on me and at the time, I was devastated. But what it really was–divine intervention, God’s plan– and He opened these doors for me at this school in Brooklyn. I was so scared to move to Brooklyn. The city was bigger. It was way more fast paced than D.C. I knew nothing about Bed Stuy. I was 24 at the at the time and really did not know what I was doing. But somehow, I packed up my life in D.C. and made the drive in a U-Haul and landed myself in Brooklyn. I figured out everything on my own. No family. No friends (yet) in Brooklyn. It was truly a wild experience. And in my four years of living and building a life on my own in NY, I managed to get my Master’s degree while working full time, and simultaneously built a meaningful community of friends, coworkers, and school family. I look back and really think: If I can do that, I can do anything.
3. I learned how to love being alone and to spend time with myself.
Moving to two new cities with no family or friends is the scariest thing I have ever done. I quickly learned how to do things independently and learned how to be comfortable with spending time with myself. I learned that while I am an extrovert in social settings, I recharge by being independent and having quiet time. At the beginning of both those journeys, I got used to exploring the city by myself because quite frankly, I just didn’t have a core group of friends to hang out with. And the more I did it, the more I realized that I actually enjoyed it! In world that is in a constant state of “FOMO,” it can be hard to be okay with being alone. But it’s more than okay, and in fact, necessary to preserve our mental sanity! Especially in a city like NYC where there is just so much noise–literally. I’m thankful for my experience in NY because it taught me how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable–and that meant spending time with myself.
4. I learned how to prioritize my life, multi-task like a boss, and get ISH done.
When you live in a fast-paced city, work a job that literally calculates EVERY MINUTE of where you need to be, you get amazing at prioritizing tasks, and getting stuff done. Working at a charter school meant extra long hours and very little time to do things for myself. I didn’t love it, hence why I am no longer there, but I learned how to maximize every minute I had for myself on the weekends and after school. The city makes you really good at this otherwise, you’d drown and feel like that commercial: “HELP, I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP.”
5. I learned that I enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle and really, really, really, love living in California.
There’s no other way to say it! While I loved living in D.C. and NYC during my young twenties, I realized that the lifestyle I was living–on the constant go, never really taking a break, and always working…left me feeling burned out. I’ll touch base on this on a future blog post, but what I really learned was that in order to achieve a balanced lifestyle, I needed to take myself out of the city of noise. If you’ve been following my story for awhile, you know that I’m back in southern California. The roads are wider, people move slower and stop to say hello, and the grocery store line at Trader Joe’s doesn’t wrap around the store twice. Driving again feels incredible knowing I can hop into my car and go where I want and not have to rely on the unreliable train delays, cancellations, or dirty subway seats with sketchy people all around you. And of course, it feels amazing to be home to be surrounded by my family, especially my parents who I missed so much!
…..And if I’m being really real, living in New York taught me how to style an all black outfit (hahaha) and find comfortable shoes as you literally walk everywhere you go. As a teacher who was on my feet all day, I literally got so good at finding shoes that would support my feet, yet still be cute enough to make me feel put together. I’m so excited to partner with Revere Shoes for this sponsored post! They were kind enough to gift me a pair of their super comfortable sandals. I love how easy they are to slip on with a velcro back and how they’re adjustable in the front with the tie and laces. Ya girl also has the flattest feet in the world and these shoes are like walking on pillows! They’re so comfy that my mom is fighting me on them and wants them for herself!
What I’m Wearing:
- Malibu Ghillie Back Strap Sandal from Revere Shoes
- Printed Off-the-Shoulder top from Abercrombie
- On sale for $15.20! It’s super lightweight and goes well with high-waisted pants or skirts!
- Black Wide Leg Pants from Cali Blue
Thank you for reading, sweet friends–let me know if you relate to any of these lessons or if you have any questions about living in NYC! I’d love to connect with you! Thanks again to Revere Shoes for sponsoring this post!