When you’re a senior in high school, you feel like you’re at the top of the world. You’re about to ship off into the real world and leave the years of pep rallies and teenage acne behind you (well..hopefully). When it’s time to decide on a college, you either stay near home or you leave behind everything you know to learn and grow in a whole new environment—and that’s exactly what I did.
Growing up in a small town in Massachusetts and originally wanting to work in the fashion industry, I knew that I needed to pack up and leave to somewhere like New York City or California where I could excel in the industry and live it up in my college years. After much deliberation, I decided on FIT in New York City.
Living in New York City when I was 20 was a whirlwind. It was also a lot of hard work and, to be honest, there were many times that I was super homesick or overwhelmed and wanted to give it all up. The good news is that I made it to graduation. I got the $20,000 piece of paper that I had worked my ass off for and, after more deliberation, made the decision to move back to my hometown.
Now, let me just explain a few things. I know many of you are probably in awe that I would ever leave the fabulous, glamorous concrete jungle, where dreams are made of, but just to clarify: it’s honestly not all it’s cracked up to be. I began to realize that I would rather live a more mediocre life in a place where I’m comfortable than be struggling just to live in an “exciting” location.
After being able to spend two years living it up in the city, I got sick of the constant struggle and would now take “boring” over the big city life any day. Even just walking out your door will somehow end up costing you money. You can’t just get in a car and drive to the grocery store. You have to walk to the subway, ride the subway and find a way home with all your groceries. Everything is just so much more complicated. Being able to hop in a car and do whatever you want felt like a luxury and I missed that.
Aside from the transportation, just living comfortably is a struggle. When living in a big city, chances are (unless you have a sugar daddy on the side) every last cent you’re earning is going to rent. Want to treat yourself to that new foundation that came out? Ha, yeah right. Saving up for a new laptop? What’s saving if it’s not for rent? It feels much better to be able to, financially, live comfortably and buy myself things when I want them and be able to go out and enjoy life instead of being a hermit in my apartment because I can’t afford to leave the house. Plus, if you’re a full-time college student, chances are you don’t have time for a job and if you do, you’re probably either interning for free or you’re working a mediocre part time job that pays you just about enough money to make it there and back on the subway and buy yourself a Vitamin Water.
Even if you’re getting by financially, just the amount of physical and mental strength you need to have to navigate your day-to-day in a huge city is just something you have to be cut out for. I did it for two years and I’m not sure that I could have taken another day of it (sometimes I’m a lazy bitch, no shame). Each day I was commuting back and forth to Queens, trying to work a part-time freelancing job to make ends meet on top of doing homework, trying to be a good mom to my dogs and fit in time to eat something other than microwave Ramen noodles and Red Bulls. What ultimately lead me to my decision of moving back home was just the fact that I’d be able to be comfortable and not mentally and physically drained every single day of my existence.
Living in a big city is pretty much like living in an entirely different world, and sometimes it’s not a good one. I pictured moving into NYC and instantly becoming Carrie Bradshaw (I know, I’m a giant cliché). I wanted to roam the streets with my best friends in designer clothing, hailing cabs and wearing high heels. Then, I got there and reality set in. CARRIE BRADSHAW’S LIFE IS ALL A LIE. Don’t let those Manolo’s fool you because a) it’s too ridiculous and inconvenient to walk in heels in the city and b) that shoe money could pay your month’s rent!!
Of course being able to live in the city and experience all those beautiful sights that people dream about seeing is a beautiful feeling. But, then you turn the corner and there’s a bum peeing on someone’s doorstep and you realize that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Crowded subways, people begging you for money on the streets and dealing with annoying tourists who walk too slow are all parts of living in the city and dealing with these things made New York less and less appealing to me everyday. I’m glad now that I can sit on my porch reading a book, letting my dogs run free in my yard (yes, a yard!!! I forgot what grass was like!!) and leave my car unlocked when it’s the in driveway without having to worry about someone trying to rob me for all I have (lol, jokes on you robber, I’m poor!).
If/once you make the decision to move back to your hometown, fair warning: This big move has the ability to make you feel like a huge failure at times. When all your cousins are going to nursing school, studying to be a physical therapist, or playing professional sports, it’s hard to make “oh, I just moved back to my little old hometown from the best city in the world to work retail” sound like something promising. Of course, there are moments like this when I regret moving home altogether. It’s easy to feel like a failure when you don’t know exactly where your life is going, but that’s the beautiful thing about life: Everything happens for a reason. Some people’s paths may be laid out a little more clear for them, but just because mine is bumpier than others’ doesn’t mean I’m failing.. It means I’m still figuring it out and there’s nothing wrong with that.