An Open Ended Letter to the Girl Who Moved Across the Country

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to live New York City. There’s just something about 60-story walls of glass painted across the skyline, decades of history embedded in architecture, and a variety of culture so widespread that makes New York City the center of the world.

Needless to say, when a friend posted about a job opening at her midtown office, I applied for it. I never imagined one month later I would be living on the top floor of a beautiful apartment in the heart of Manhattan.

And so, I packed my things and left the Colorado town I have forever called my home. The town that contained my family, my friends, my life, and most importantly, my comfort zone.

I have been living in New York City for just one week, and every day I learn something about my new home and about myself. I have learned to take everything with a grain of salt- that I cannot expect to be an expert navigating the subways or streets (at least not yet). I have learned to celebrate the small victories- whether it be venturing to a new neighborhood, making a friend, or speaking up for myself. And most importantly, I have learned that no matter the distance, I have an incredible support system.

The following is a message I received from my dear cousin, Erika, who is a wonderful human being and whom I deeply admire and respect. Her advice is so touching and inspiring that I feel the need to share it with all of you. Wether you are someone who has moved across the country, someone who is considering it, someone who has moved 30 minutes down the road, or someone who hasn’t moved at all, there is something you can take away from her beautifully written message…

Brave Girl,

As you wake up in your new room, ready to start this next adventure, a million things are probably going through your head.

As someone who completely uprooted their life and moved to another continent, I feel like I have some insight on this type of experience, so humor me and let me give you some advice.

Things will be new and exciting and amazing. They will also be scary and confusing and frustrating. Don’t be afraid to ask even (what seem like) the stupidest of questions. People with good intentions and true hearts will share with you what they know willingly, and without pretense. Take the advice of others who have lived there longer. They will be your guiding compass for a long while. Be open to their wisdom. One day, in the not so distant future, you will be able offer someone else that same gift. On that day, when you’re giving advice on what the best subway route is to take, or directions to your favourite pizza place, you will pause and smile and realize you have come out the other side.

Be smart. This may seem trite and cliche, but it’s true. Be smart with your time and your money.

Time. Do what you want to do. Listen to that little voice in your head, which, like a muscle, will get stronger as you use it. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Whether that’s a date, a social event, or a decision at work. Don’t waste your time on things that don’t contribute to your overall long-term learning and growing.

Money. Your new city has so much to offer, so don’t get caught up in the glitter of it all. Sex in the City is fiction. You are not Carrie Bradshaw (just as I wasn’t some Italian Glitterati shopping in Milan’s fashion district!). Fifteen dollar cocktails everyday after work are ridiculous and wearing stilettos whilst traipsing around town is a safety hazard. Ask your new compasses where to find the best deals, the cheapest eats, and the free activities. Because there will be lots that your new city has to offer that will cost you nothing but perhaps a little effort to find them. And, if you find that your lifestyle outweighs your budget, you have two options. Change your lifestyle, or get a second job. I wanted to travel more, so I started tutoring. I didn’t like it, in fact, I loathed it, but it gave me an extra 200 euro a month I could use to fulfill my goals. This may seem to contradict what I said above about not doing things you don’t want to do, but there will be things like this that will pop up all the time. Even though I hated tutoring, I did the hard work because it enabled me to fulfill my travel goals. There will be lots of ‘means to an end’ situations for you. Keep the big picture in the forefront of your mind.

And, keep a budget. For the love of God, sit down, make a budget and stick to it. It’s boring and it’s practical, and its very un-Carrie, but you’ll thank me later. Trust me.

In a couple of months, you will hit a dark patch. It’s bound to happen. Things won’t be matching up to the vision you had in your head, or work is shitty, or you miss home, or, likely, all of the above. It’s okay. It will get better. Call Jenny or your mom and cry, stay in your room for a weekend and eat ice cream, get stupid drunk with friends and dance your problems away. Whatever you need to do, just remember that it’s normal, and that it will pass. I promise.

Finally, try to keep an open heart. Be open to all you meet, every new experience, and to what the universe is going to lay across your path in the weeks and months to come. You may find that your values and ideals may shift, if even ever so slightly. You may find that things you thought you didn’t like, you actually do; unconscious prejudices and judgements may come to light and be completely debunked. You will certainly experience people that you would never experience in Colorado. And, that, is a beautiful thing. You are going to be forever changed by this experience, in such a deep and profound way.

I am so excited for you.

All my love,

~ E

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