It’s been seven months since I moved to New York… Seven long, tumultuous months. New York, to me, is about finding myself. It’s about veering away from the straight and narrow. It’s about growing up. It’s about truly “chasing down my passion like it’s the last bus of the night.” It’s about saying “yes” to something just to see where it will take me. It’s never losing my “kid on Christmas morning” excitement when I walk through Times Square at night.
New York is about being independent. It’s about exploring the streets of Manhattan for hours with nothing but my iPod. It’s about shamelessly requesting a table for one at a restaurant with a view of the street to people-watch. It’s about sitting at the dog park with a book. I’m learning to be content with who and what I am, where I’m at and where I’m going without any external validation. It’s the revelation that being alone doesn’t have to equate to loneliness.
New York is about adaptation. It’s replacing “north and south” with “uptown and downtown,” fireflies with street lights, and grass with concrete. It’s teaching myself to install an AC unit during a heat wave and fix a leaky radiator in a blizzard. It’s getting thoroughly lost on the subway at least once and finding that there is no such thing as personal space on the L train.
New York is about a career. It’s about working at a shitty dive bar on the Upper West Side to pay the bills and enduring the insanity and hilarity that I witness every night. It’s about attaining patience and faith that my dream job (or the one that will lead to it) is around the corner. It’s about fighting back tears when I hit another dead end and reminding myself that anything worth having rarely comes easily. It’s about adamantly remaining every bit as passionate about making a difference as I was the day I moved here.
It’s about meeting new people. It’s the desire to catch a glimpse of something new, something previously unappreciated yet beautiful upon its discovery. It’s about that chance conversation on the subway with someone different, whose perspective and experience is a welcomed breath of fresh air. It’s about salsa-dancing with Peruvians on the Lower East Side, riding a mechanical bull with Irishmen in Midtown and enduring a deranged Bosnian refugee as a roommate for two months in Brooklyn.
New York is about learning to be financially independent- striving to be frugal and responsible. To come home to my tiny studio apartment without a microwave, curtains or central heat and air and looking upon it with a sense of pride because it’s mine. To be satisfied because, although I’m not discussing signing bonuses and 401K’s, I worked my ass off to pay for it. It’s about proving that I can take care of myself.
New York is about endings and new beginnings. It’s about refusing to settle for anything less than what I feel I’m owed, deserve and want. It’s the courage to say goodbye to the bad, knowing full and well how much it’s going to hurt to lose the good that accompanies it. It’s forcing myself to walk away from that which I’ve grown to depend on having by my side. It’s about clinging to my belief that love truly is the most important thing despite it all… and finding comfort in the knowledge that I gave it openly and willingly.
New York is about being single for the first time in years. It’s about delving into the infuriating, terrifying, intoxicatingly nonsensical world of “casual dating.” It’s about revisiting and re-evaluating my standards. It’s about being grateful to find one more quality that I know I want or don’t want in another, even if I had to learn it the hard way. It’s about enduring a horrible first date and appreciating the silver lining that is the good story it will eventually be. It’s never hearing from him again versus wishing he would leave me the hell alone. It’s remaining hopeful that I’ll find someone willing to give as much of himself to me as I do him.
New York is about doing something different. I never saw myself destined for The Big Apple, but I knew I wasn’t meant for Atlanta. I’ve always known I wasn’t made for a husband and sharing a zip code with my parents at 24. It’s about staying true to myself and refusing to do what would have come easily or what everyone else I grew up with did. It’s the refusal to stick to the mundane, the usual – to fall prey to the illusion that if it brings them satisfaction, it will do the same for me.
It’s the pursuit of both internal and external balance. It’s about approaching my fears instead of fleeing from them. It’s about that feeling of wonder and awe when you see the Manhattan skyline. It’s about proving things to myself. It’s about living in the moment without losing sight of the future.
… To me.
You can read more from Whitney Smith on her blog.