Life in New York: Settling in

I got to New York late on a Monday night. I was lucky to receive a lift from my mother’s friend’s daughter, who dropped me off in Sunnyside at her mother’s house, where I would spend the next consecutive two weeks. I spent the first couple of days doing errands, sleeping in, eating out, doing boutique fitness workouts in Manhattan, all the while, contemplating the seriousness of what I had done and trying to get my head and life together. The previous five days gallivanting in San Francisco and the high of running my first half marathon had left me with an unexpected low, and all I could think every morning for the first few weeks was, “I can’t believe I’ve done this.” There was a lingering sense of shame that refused to dissipate in those first few weeks, around the fact that I had quit a job that I loved, to start completely afresh and abound with struggles.

Those first few weeks in New York were a return to the unbridled hedonistic days of my youth- I was gainfully unemployed, eating and drinking like a glutton in the city of sin. The first morning in New York, I awoke from a 12 hour sleep feeling groggy and dazed. Upon waking up every morning, I would be confronted with a sense of disorientation. Walking down the streets, it still all felt very surreal to me, like I had to pinch myself to wake up from the never ending dream.

That first couple of weeks on my own, already forced me to examine a few long hard truths about myself. I had always thought of myself as a remarkably tenacious person, able to commit to goals and see them through no matter what. The first month in New York had me reconsidering that belief. I received countless rejection letters from jobs I really wanted, and even jobs I didn’t really want. I questioned the absurdity of requiring three references for a dog walking job. During these days, I was prone to despair and lament the uncertainty of my position. I often daydreamed about repacking all my bags and going home early, returning to my old job, being back with my friends and family, and taking pleasure in being back within the confines of my childhood home. But I reasoned with myself, that I didn’t spend over a year daydreaming about moving to New York only to give up less than a month in.

I tried to look at the positives, and the biggest, was that the move catapulted me into independent adult life. I went from living with my family and not paying rent, having my room cleaned by my mother, to living with three roommates, writing cheques, buying furniture and assembling it, all that big girl stuff. It was an enthralling new world, and I was high on my own sense of independence.

Despite all the outwardly good things that were happening though, I was plagued by a sense of malaise during those first few weeks. I felt slightly foolish, idealistic and simple, with my lofty ideals, thinking I could stroll into a job at the likes of Reuters or Bloomberg, in the first month of my arrival in New York. After 2 weeks of rejection letters, it was clear this was not going to happen. I knew something would come along eventually, and while it may not have been where I wanted to be right now, it would be something. Despite all the moodiness and loneliness of those first few weeks, there were times when I felt very excited to be among the bustle and bright lights of the city. And even though I felt less than positive half the time, there was an allure about the city that made me not want to leave, to rise to the challenge and conquer it.

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