Like most things that happen in my life, I feel as though I have already lived through them. Things happen in my head first, and then I execute.
It was November 5th, 2016. The years prior had been a little rough for me mentally, but I wasn’t aware of it then. Anxiety was running high and I was restless. Even though I sold everything I owned, packed my life into three suitcases and moved to one of the toughest cities in the world, I wasn’t scared. It was almost like New York was the answer.
Although I wasn’t blinded by this “dream coming true” I just knew I had to go. I knew it would give me something that I was looking for. That something I couldn’t put my finger on but even so, I left and never looked back.
But from the day I landed in this city I was over stimulated in every sense. There wasn’t really much time to be anxious anymore. The obstacles that hit me meant I had to move very fast.
The job I moved to New York for didn’t work out, and it turned into this big legal ordeal. My visa to the country was based on this job. I got fired and rehired within 6 months of arriving in the US and tried to reapply for my visa at the same time. My living situation didn’t work out either. I moved four times (on my own) before I could even celebrate my first year in the city. Then I got a new job in something I had no experience in and worked 12 hours at the office trying to figure it all out. I didn’t see my family for a year or take any vacation days. Friends went as quick as they came, moving back to Ireland after a short J1 stint. I tried to find a home and I tried to make a new life and I tried to make it look all pretty and fun on Instagram. For the first year, nothing was pretty or fun. I was desperate to find my feet.
But I was brought up to cope with things. To keep moving forward and to deal with the task at hand. Many days I would call my parents with one problem after the other. They encouraged me to be practical and encouraged me to work through things.
Instinctively, I kept ploughing forward. I searched for solutions for every mess I found myself in. I wasn’t certain that things would ever clear, but they kind of did. I found a job I adore, and I’ve continued to work my face off. I signed a lease for the cutest downtown apartment, where I can peer out at the city lights from my roof deck. My friends became my family and I got granted the O1-B visa; something I never thought was in my wheelhouse. I continued to train really hard, networked my ass off around the city, got real good at the job, won a 3-year long legal battle in Ireland, got my fair share of financial reimbursement from the initial dodgy job, got thicker skin and learned the biggest lessons of my life. Things have begun to be pretty and fun. Actually, they’ve begun to be really fucking great.
Looking back over the two years, I made a lot of sacrifices. I struggled, got overwhelmed and felt like packing it all in more times than I care to admit. I hoped for an ending and wished it could all be over. But there was magic in the madness. I met friends for life and most importantly, I learned who I was. I was forced into it and assimilated every single lesson it took to get me there. And it’s the overarching bigger picture I’ll carry with me forever. Those small moments along the way, both good and bad, I treasure like figments of magic. I’ll always have regrets, but I’ll always understand the lessons in them too.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be that girl who left in November 2016. She’s a pretty distant memory to me right now. But the message isn’t New York, or travel or anything like that. The message is to do something you really want to do and be ready for the sacrifice and consequences that come with it. It will be the worst pain and the best pleasure you’ll ever experience.
I often think about the saying “New York will make or break you”, and the way I see it is that New York broke me to pieces, threw them back in my face and I did with them what I could. I made my way here, stayed grateful and found my feet eventually.
I’ve come to learn that New York will never give me exactly what I want, but more often exactly what I need.