What Nobody Told Me About Moving to New York

People are nice here. Not everyone, but enough. 

The subway can be intimidating. Don’t be embarrassed if you have to use Google Maps to check to see where you’re going. Everyone I know does it. 

It will be overwhelming that there is so much you could be doing. You will have a hard time deciding what to do because of the sheer number of options. Say yes as often as you can without wearing yourself out. If you need to say no sometimes, it’s okay. There will be something life-changing tomorrow too.

The busy-ness of the city will become your security. You will come to fear quiet places rather than loud ones. You will take comfort in numbers and anonymity. 

Making friends will be hard. You will meet people, and the connections will feel fleeting because you will meet hundreds of strangers in the next month. Be the one who reaches out for coffee, the one who makes plans. Everyone is hoping someone else will do it. 

Walk places when you can. The city feels most alive when you let yourself be part of it. 

You will lock yourself out of your apartment. You will learn the best coffee shop to wait until your roommate can come home and rescue you. After the first two times that this happens, you swear you will take precautionary measures (note on the door to "remember your keys!" multiple copies stashed in every bag you own!) and never wait two hours with a lukewarm coffee again. You also know that reaching for the door only to realize your keys are safely on their hook inside is inevitable. You will get to know your local Starbucks very well. 

You will be lonely. You will be in your apartment on a Saturday night thinking about all of the cool things you could be doing but aren’t. When the loneliness hits, remember that you went out last Saturday night, and it’s okay that you stayed home today. Remember that you could feel this way in any city. 

You will come to love the independence this city gives you. You will feel strength and possibility as you walk down the streets, knowing you’re the one in control of where you go and when. You will not feel self-conscious as you ride the subway alone. Your alone time will become so important. 

There will be a moment when you are walking the fifteen minutes home from the grocery store, carrying a twelve-pound bag in each hand. One of the bags will break on the street, spilling yogurt and carrots all over the corner, and no one will help you. You will try not to cry. You will curse the bagboy, anyone who manufactures paper bags, and everyone who told you to get a grocery cart. You will wonder why you ever moved to this godforsaken city. 

But there will also be a moment when you are walking down the street with your new friends, giggling for no reason. There will be a moment when you stumble into a new coffee shop, and you’ll know instantly it’s going to be one of your favorite places in the city. There will be a moment when you take yourself to the New York Public Library, and you will discover new parts of yourself as you let the history of the building inside your skin. There will be a moment when your friends convince you it will be fun to walk through Times Square even though it’s full of tourists, and you will still be overwhelmed by the spectacle of it. There will be a moment when you feel like you belong here.

One day someone will ask you for directions, and you will be startled when you know how to answer their question. It will occur to you that you actually live here, that you’re not so new anymore.

You will still be you, but you will also be not-you. You will meet new parts of yourself every day. Remember who you used to be, but give yourself space to explore who you are becoming. It’s okay if you change. You’re supposed to.

Feature image by Hans M