The initial excitement was soon met by extreme anxiety, fear, and sadness as I packed up everything I owned, sold my car, quit my job, and said “Goodbye for now” to my closest friends. I made the choice to move across the country to pursue my dream of hosting a morning television show like Good Morning America and although it was hard, I knew it was the right choice.
I arrived on cloud nine and a head spinning concoction of drive and delusion. What and who I left behind was a (temporarily) distant memory and I couldn’t take in New York City fast enough. I would get up in the morning, put on one of my brand new outfits and go explore. Every building I saw–every park, every hot dog stand, piece of art, and enraged taxi driver–made me smile at the New York-ness of it all. During that summer, I walked the entire island, and parts of Brooklyn too. I would come home in the evening saturated with the sights, sounds, spirit of New York City. I felt so alive.
This feeling continued as I began writing for the Observer. I couldn’t believe I was able to go to this amazing office, interview people, and publish my writing! It was and continues to be a dream come true. During this time I was also in school online, and continued managing my YouTube channel. I couldn’t believe it, I was here and I was really doing it.
After about three months of this new life in New York City, it–so predictably–became too much.
The warm days of summer quickly faded and I was working constantly. I said yes to every work and social opportunity but did not stop to catch my breath because I felt so lucky. I didn’t want to miss out on anything (Apparently this is such a common phenomena in New York that there’s even a hashtag for it. #FOMO: fear of missing out.)
The (mostly self-imposed) stress was wearing me down and made me susceptible to the incredible amount of negativity around me. There is no shortage of wonderful people in New York City, but there is also a beguiling underbelly of darkness. It sucks you in when you begin to complain about the crowded subways or the cost of orange juice and quickly takes over every part of your life.
You begin feeling like you’ll never work yourself out of the mess you’ve made. You only see how talented other people are and how hopelessly competitive this city can be. It whispers “they’re so right” when others tell you that the men here are all jerks, that it’s impossible to have a relationship, or that you’ll never make enough money to survive here. And eventually you begin to feel tired and downright pitiful.
BUT THEN you feel like a big jerk! How could you be so tired and pitiful in this AMAZING city?! (Taylor Swift loves it here. Shouldn’t you??) “How unbelievably ungrateful!” you scold yourself. But the dark side liked that too, and it cackled at the tormented mess I let it twist me into.
So there I was, believing I was hopeless in every possible way, while walking down the street watching couples holding hands, passing mesmerizingly beautiful architecture without even noticing, and MISSING EVERYTHING!
It wasn’t until I was home for the holidays that I realized why I felt so overwhelmed and overworked: I was painfully lonely and I hadn’t let myself fully process all of the change that occurred this past year. I didn’t stop to check in with myself or prioritize the things that a person needs, like a healthy sleep cycle or you know, FRIENDS! Before this realization, I thought things like socializing or taking a yoga class required time and money that I couldn’t afford, but ignoring my emotions and working myself to exhaustion left me feeling burned out and (secretly, shamefully) hopeless.
So I’ve made the decision to stop avoiding my loneliness or the fact that moving has been jarring, and be kinder to myself.
I still work too much, I probably always will, but I’m trying to fall back in love with the city that inspired so much wonderful change in my life. My belief in New York and what I could do here made me brave. It made me work hard and for a while, made me feel strong. My goal for the coming week is to stop and take in this amazing city, despite my budget or freezing weather. I will get up, get out, and explore like I did during my early days here.
Loving where you are, even if you’re not quite where you want to be yet is so important. You get what you give. Love where you are at this particular moment in your journey, work hard, and take good care of yourself.
It’s easier said than done–and being consistent is the hardest part– but if you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, do what I’m doing this week. Fall back in love with where you are. Get up, get out, and move forward.
I’d love to know how it goes! Tweet me @missvranhalen