One of my homegirls is on her way to New York City as I type this post. She's about the same age as I was the first time I moved to New York, and her adventure reminded me of that exciting time — not only for myself but for the many young ladies who take that courageous leap.
Thinking about the opportunity, the thrill, and the challenges that come with such a move inspired me to write this letter to my friend and all the girls who want to move or is moving to the Big Apple.
Dear New York City Bound Girl(s),
First let me say congratulations on your decision to pack up all your belongings and make your way to a city that is bursting with energy and opportunity. Whether it was an easy or difficult decision I'm sure there are people around you who don't understand the desire to take on this adventure. They are the naysayers who think you are crazy, or even the people who love you and are just worried about your well-being — that alone can be easily discouraging. But you've overcome it because you are well on your way to find a way and I commend you.
Now, I just want to share a few things that I think might help you along your way. I'm no New York expert but after going and living there twice I have a few words of advice I would like to share; some things I learned on my own and others I wish someone told me before I went.
1. Keep a journal. I started my journal weeks before I left for the city and have kept one ever since. Having a daily ritual of writing was a great way for me to reflect and regroup. My journal was my refuge for the days that were challenging, and a record of my happy celebrations. You can write your thoughts, keep a blog, or Pinterest page; either way make sure you are documenting this exciting time.
2. Make a plan, and then don't follow it. What I mean is make sure you have some goals, some things you want to achieve while you are there. At the same time be flexible and open to what might come; you just never ever know what can happen. Make a plan that keeps you grounded and focused, but don't follow it so stringently that you're not having fun or are missing out on other goodness coming your way.
3. Surround yourself with kind and positive people. Let's be real, New York City is hard. It can beat you down before it builds you up. Most people there are also trying to make their own way, so don't get in their way or... With that it can feel overwhelming, and the last thing you want to do is be around people who bring you down.
I was very blessed when I was in New York because a few friends from college were also there. We struggled, partied, cried, and laughed together. Then I worked with some amazing people who helped make the transition easier.
Find your tribe. Ask friends of friends to introduce you to their friends, go to events and meet folks, join organizations that will put you in circles of like-minded people. This is a great starting place — then be sure to weed out the folks who aren't positively contributing to your life.
4. Find a job, any job immediately. Some of you are going to New York for a job but there are others, who like me, decided to wing it. Well it's not the easiest way but not impossible. Be open to working in retail or food service until you can find the best opportunity that suits you. Working in a coffee shop or neighborhood boutique is a great way to meet people and make connections, and it forces you to get out and hustle.
5. Discomfort is temporary. We hear the stories: you might share a place with four other roommates, have a studio without a kitchen, work day and night for pennies, get stuck on a train that goes express and you end up all the way uptown when you were just trying to make that audition in midtown. Yes it can be challenging but discomfort is temporary. If you are working hard, staying positive, and keeping your eyes on the prize then that discomfort will soon fade. A simple daily reminder, "I'm living my dream, I'm in New York City" will get you through.
6. Don't ever be afraid to leave. The city is fabulous, seductive, fun, amazing, and wonderful. But if you ever feel like you want to leave and find opportunities elsewhere or take a break don't be afraid to do so.
Although New York is always changing, the key things always stay the same: that energy, the opportunity to do big things, and that real estate is expensive. So if you decide to leave don't worry you won't miss much. Aside from new buildings, stores and restuarants it will all pretty much be the same if you decide to come back.
With all that said I am so excited for you. I know you will rock that town and do amazing things. Be kind to yourself, be safe, and remember to have fun. See the city as much as you can, walk, picnic in Central Park, get coffee with friends, exercise, and be happy.
Cheers to following your dreams!
What about you, are you making a big move soon? To New York or another major city? Did you make the move and now have any tips/advice you can share?