I remember my first time getting off the plane in middle school and welcoming NYC to my heart with open arms. I was in AWE. I will never forget my first steps in Times Square and thinking to myself, "one day I will call this my home."
It's so typical though; the big lights, the movie stars, the dreams, and the skyscapers can make anyone feel brand new and special. It's so hard to describe - but if you have been here, I know you recognize the feeling. This city makes you feel new, alive, and gives a sense of hope like none other.
I had told my parents for years that I wanted to move out to New York City and become an actress or a singer or be a writer and channel in my inner "Carrie Bradshaw". I had aspriations to ditch college in total and move out to the city but of course no kid thinks about the money or working multiple jobs to pay rent here. For people who don't live here, it's a fantacy, it was my fantacy.
When I first was told I got an interview with Hearst Magazines, I thought it was a joke. I remember the moment I got the email asking what time in Scotland I could hop on a ft call with editors of Cosmopolitan and Seventeen and I thought to myself holy sh%$ all my dreams might be coming true, so of course I couldn't tell anyone. I kept thinking, no way a girl from Iowa is going to move out to NYC and have this happen, no way, and it did.
The second I got the congratulations email, I had butterflies, I mean, my dreams were coming true but I also had a large panic attack. I couldn't imagine moving from Scotland to NYC and I didn't think it was possible. I didn't know how to balance the city and didn't know if I could survive. But, I was determained.
Living here is such a different ball game. My first couple weeks here were rough - I could not understand for the life of me why ANYONE would want to live here and dedicate their lives here. The people are so beyond diverse and at first it was a large culture shock for me. I was sad to see people on the subway working so late and closing their eyes because they were so tired and hot and exausted. It was hard to pay for such expensive groceries and understand why a lot of people can't afford food here. I can't even talk about the smells or the mystery liquids that will drop on you while you're walking from gosh knows where and etc, etc, etc.
I kept asking myself, "Why is it taking me so long to fall in love with living here?"
I was dealing with a lot. I had a lot of anxiety about money, not being with my family, figuring out my transportation, food, different cultures, new roommates, being single, keeping friendships, my internship, networking, figuring out if I could ever see myself living here and what I want a career to look like and blah blah blah. It was too much and I was blaming it ALL on the city.
I was told so many times that this is one of the lonliest cities in the world. Everyone comes here for themselves and for their dreams. This city has time for your needs if you put everything into it and I wasn't. I then realized right then and there that it wasn't the city that was wrong, it was me.
When I gave the city my all, the city gave back to me.
So yes, it did take me longer to fall in love with the city than expected. I thought the bond between us would be immediate. This city has hugged my heart and I 100% will be back.
I started to see the beauty in the city. I felt confident walking next to such determained people off the subway and realized they were tired and hot from working their asses off to live in such an incredible place. Initially I wasn't giving Harlem a chance. I have been introduced to many different cultures and situations and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to see how these cultures live and handle the city. I needed to be pushed outside of my "Iowan" comfort zone and I will totally admit that. Food? I started shopping in the sale section at the grocery marts to save money and not go out to eat as much.
I wasn't giving New York a fair chance because it was too new and it was too big. Honestly, I didn't give myself enough credit to survive here. I now am inner channeling Carrie Bradshaw and feel the love from the city and why this place truly does make dreams come true. The other day I was running in Central Park and was looking at all the people and the skyline and got chills. This city has endless amounts of opportunities for us all and I am blessed that this city has welcomed me.