Two years ago, I turned my entire life upside down in the very same way you would the items in your dresser drawer before deciding to sort through and gently refold them.
Instead of restoring order, though, I took a handful of the warmest things I owned and shoved them into a suitcase before boarding a plane to New York City -- on my own.
Here are the top 20 mistakes and subsequent lessons you will make when first moving to the Big Apple.
1. Paying more than $1 for a slice of pizza.
2. Entering the subway station going downtown when you need to go uptown.
3. Riding that wrong direction train for a handful of stops before finally realizing you're approaching Pelham Bay Park when you were trying to get to Houston Street.
4. Pronouncing Houston like the city in Texas.
5. Paying an astronomical broker's fee for an apartment you could have probably found on your own.
6. Thinking you can negotiate: with your broker, your landlord, the lady on the other end of your Time Warner phone call. You'll come at them with your A-game, sometimes you think about the great lawyer you would have made. But, they'll put you in your place. They'll bring you right back down to earth when they laugh in your face and say in such a blasé way, “I'm sorry, that's the price and there's nothing more I can do.”
7. Shopping for groceries anywhere other than Trader Joes or Fairway.
8. Not having the Seamless app on your phone during the winter when your only other option is to throw on every item of clothing you have and face the frigid outdoors to get some grub… or starve.
9. Making eye contact with strangers on the subway. Here, locking eyes with someone is grounds for them to invade your personal space.
10. Thinking you have impeccable balance and not holding on while riding the subway. This is how you'll invade someone else's personal space.
11. Telling yourself that this city has so many people and tourists, so you'll never rub elbows with someone you know. Just wait. When you run out for a bottle of $3 Trader Joe's wine in your fuzzy Old Navy sweatpants and stained sleep shirt with your hair half-up, half-whatever, there they will be. Your childhood neighbor, a guy you kind-of dated for six weeks, the girl who always used to copy your high school math homework — they will find you when you least expect it.
12. Becoming lazy about how close you keep hold of your wallet and your phone. Opening those up on the street or the subway makes you a prime target.
13. Underestimating your commute. Though your Hop Stop app tells you it'll only take 15 minutes to get to Jessica's apartment on the Upper East Side, you'll find yourself waiting around for the 6 train that, like your ex-boyfriend, comes around whenever it feels like it.
14. Wearing heels — or uncomfortable shoes — to go out. Whoever said beauty is pain never lived in New York City, couldn't find a cab at 3 am and had to walk 27 blocks in knockoff Louboutin shoes.
15. Going to Times Square for New Year's Eve. Or, ever.
16. Giving all your money away to anyone who asks. This would never fly anywhere else, but if you spend a few minutes on the Time Square subway platform, you'll be asked repeatedly to spare some change.
17. Believing in something called a savings account. All nouns, here, will beg for your money. And you'll give it up more than you'll save it.
18. Not asking for directions.
19. Thinking you'll never adapt to the noise. Soon you won't need to chug Nyquil or cram in a pair of earplugs or stay up all night trying to make the sheep dance to the sounds outside your window. The honking and the sirens and the full-on conversations you can hear from the bar (which you live 26 floors above) will become the sweet lullabies that become the soundtrack to your frantic dreams.
20. Believing that you'll be in this “I LOVE NYC” honeymoon phase forever. Why do you think they make t-shirts that say this and hang them all over the city? For tourist to buy them? Well, yes. But also so that you'll constantly be reminded of the dysfunctional relationship you entered with this ruthless, gorgeous, smelly, precious, overcrowded city. (New York, I love you, please don't change a thing.)