What I’ve Learned My First Year in NYC

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I have officially been in New York City for one year now as of today! It is insane how quickly time has passed. Although I did intern in the city while I was at school in Syracuse, this was my first time having an apartment here and living here full-time. So much has happened over the course of a year and I feel like the city has taught me so much already. Not only about life, but also about myself. I think it is so SO important to get out of your comfort zone and live somewhere new at some point in your life. Even if it’s just for a little bit, it helps you grow so much as a person. In honor of my 1 year NYC anniversary, I wanted to share some things I have learned while living here.

When shit gets hard, don’t give up.

I’m sure you’ve seen “never give up” on a million different coffee cups, posters, and Instagram captions, but it’s a whole lot different when you’re actually faced with challenging situations that you’re really not sure if you’re equipped to handle. Although most of my family and friends were proud or impressed to see me follow my dreams and move to NYC after college, almost none of them understand how difficult it really was. I was super optimistic and excited about it, but at the same time I  was terrified. I came here without a job secured and within my first month at my sublease we had bed bugs, followed by mice, and I could barley afford groceries on top of my rent. I couldn’t sleep, I was miserable and depressed. For a second I considered moving back home — like seriously considered it. I even had some friends who told me I should move back because, in their eyes, what I was going through just wasn’t worth it. But, I decided not to give up on my dream. It was NOT easy to stick it out, but I did what I had to do. Long story short: I have a job as a full-time writer (with benefits), a better apartment, and I can afford to eat now.

Make the most of your space. 

During this passed year I have lived in three different apartments: a 5 bedroom sublease in Harlem, a small room at my friend’s house in the South Bronx, and now a two bedroom apartment with my best friend in Queens. Prior to coming to the city, I had a gorgeous studio in Syracuse. I had more than enough room for my clothes, shoes, and random knick-knacks. Needless to say, that is NOT the case in NYC. But, I have definitely learned how to utilize a good shoe rack, wall shelves, and purge the heck out of anything I don’t need or use.

There is ALWAYS something new to do or try. 

The word “bored” doesn’t exist in New York. If you’re bored then you’re doing it wrong! Shows, museums, restaurants, parks, public art displays, national monuments… there are so many things to keep you busy here that I haven’t even touched half of the things I want to do yet. Actually, I plan on sharing my NYC bucket list with you all soon so give me some ideas!

If you can make it here, you probably really can make it anywhere.

This is a cliché, but with how expensive everything is, how competitive the job market is, and the various living conditions I’ve dealt with, I’m pretty confident that the next place I live will feel a whole lot easier! So thanks NYC for toughening me up!

Self-care is absolutely a priority. 

When you’re living somewhere with so many people and tight spaces it gets mentally and physically draining pretty quickly. Although self-care should be a necessity for everyone, I feel like so many New Yorkers neglect this by working long hours, staying super busy, and never saying no to an event. Sometimes you have to/ just relax and make sure that you’re nurturing your body, mind, and spirit.

Budget, budget, budget. 

I know I’ve mentioned multiple times already how expensive the city is, but if you’ve ever been here then you understand. It’s so easy to blow money here on food and fashion and clubs, but building a budget for yourself is pretty key to survival (unless you’re rich I guess). I’m still working on this myself, but at least make sure your bills are paid and you have some savings to back you up.

Learn to love spending time with yourself. 

I am a huge advocate of this one! Before coming here I was in a very serious relationship where I totally lost myself. I made my ex a priority over myself (and that never turns out well). I honestly didn’t even know what made me happy at that point. I thought I could only find happiness with him and boyyyy was I wrong! Even when I wasn’t dating, I was very codependent on friends and family — I hated being alone. New York changed that for me. It gave me the confidence and freedom to explore myself and my surroundings. Although there are millions of people here, it can still get lonely. It’s not easy to date and most of your friends are probably also busy people. So, I started nurturing a relationship with myself. I love seeing movies after work, binge watching a new show while I drink coffee on Saturday mornings, getting lost in a book on the subway, and going to coffee shops to work on my blog.

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Thank you New York City for helping me to gain confidence in myself, meet tons of like-minded people, explore endless cool places, and really grow tf up!

These photos were taken last fall while I was exploring The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial, and the Brooklyn Bridge. 

Cheers to a new year in the Big Apple!

xoxo, Kayla

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