While not all of you are moving to New York, for most of us there comes a point when we have to move to a new town or city, or simply move out of our comfort zone. It may seem daunting at first, but once you find your way, you may discover you’ve grown into someone you never could have imagined before.
New York has captured my heart, but it was far from love at first sight. When I was younger, my family and I would visit NYC every couple of years for a weekend or so, always leaving amazed but, even more so, overwhelmed by the bustle and noise and relieved to be returning home. I knew I never wanted to live in New York.
But here I am, a New Yorker. I’ve logged six months here and happily have many, many more to come.
While it took effort and patience and openness, I finally came around to loving this city, the only place I’ve lived in other than Boston, and now I don’t want to leave any time soon. There are a few things I picked up along the way that helped me truly feel at home here.
1. I learned to relax and embrace ritual.
I believe being a tourist in New York is one of the worst advertisements for living here. Because there is so much to do, all the time, from rooftops to landmarks to museums to meet-ups and more, when traveling here, it feels mandatory to explore until your feet refuse any more abuse—no matter what you do, you’re only scratching the surface, right?
When I first moved here, I had a very touristic attitude, exploring neighborhoods and landmarks after work and on weekends, barely pausing to rest. While impressive, the whole city exhausted me.
It soon dawned on me, however, that I can sleep in on Saturdays, watch sitcoms on weeknights, or lazily make breakfast in an apartment in New York just as easily as anywhere else. No one is going to stop me! I just had to learn to take a deep breath and accept that I would get to know the city at my own pace.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Wherever you go, there you are.” This saying can be taken in two ways. On the one hand, wherever you go, you always have to be in your own company, so it’s important to always work to be someone you love. On the other hand, wherever you go, you can take your rituals with you, so that you feel at home throughout the world.
2. I made local friends.
I knew very few people in New York when I first moved there. I often found myself depending on a couple of people for company or wandering alone, which added to the foreign feeling of this new city.
Once I made more friends here, through work, mutual connections, blogging, and family, New York became a place I wanted to be so that I could spend time with people I care about.
Ultimately, having people you can count on for fun times and for emotional support is really what makes a place feel like home.
3. I found my happy places.
When I first moved to New York, I had a totally arbitrary rule that I would never go to the same restaurant or café twice, out of a desire to get the most out of the city and out of my money as possible. But that got old real quick. My favorites were my favorites, and I wanted to return. Developing relationships with the people at local spots made me feel like I was part of a neighborhood community, even when I’m one in over 8 million.
4. I left.
Wherever you go, it’s rare to find a place that offers everything you hope for in your life. If you live in beautiful mountains you may wish for skyscrapers (sometimes), and vice versa. Sometimes, leaving for a little while can give you the change of pace you need while reminding you why you chose what you did in the first place.
Leaving the city on weekends, by rail or by car, to explore the waterfalls, forests, vineyards, beaches, farms, and small towns just beyond the metropolis, has contributed to my greater sense of calm and well-being while also reminding me that I wouldn’t trade what I have now for anything else.
A special thank you to my friend Andrea of Pretty Proper Quaint for photographing this post’s featured image. You can find her fashion blog here, her Etsy vintage shop here, and her photography portfolio here.