You’ve packed your entire life into your parents' car or moving van (you probably had to sell your car in order to afford the deposit on your new, tiny apartment), and you’re ready to tackle the “big city” on your own.
Whatever city it is, you’ve probably been yearning to move there for as long as you can remember. Sometimes, however, living that dream doesn’t turn out quite how you may have imagined it would.
Sure, everything you expected is there: the nightlife, the hustle and bustle, the cool people and the vast opportunities. But, you’ll often find that it’s not exactly everything it’s cracked up to be. (Still, when you make visits back to your hometown, make sure to make your new life sound as glamorous as possible.)
At the ripe old age of (wait for it…) 18, I thought I would be ready to tackle the world independently, as opposed to my friends, who were still going to college in our hometown.
I was ready to tackle the world; I just wasn’t ready for all of the other downfalls that come with trying to pursue your dream in such a vast and temperamental city.
If you’re moving away, you will probably have to share a tiny apartment with complete strangers. Naive little me thought that having housemates would be like hanging out with the siblings I never had growing up: late-night movies, pajama days, cute brunches on the weekends and all of that fun stuff.
I’ve been living in London for barely three years and I’m already in my third apartment. I simply don’t get along with my housemates. Making three moving van reservations was certainly not the dream I had imagined.
The stress of renting and living with people who aren’t your immediate family is enough to make even the most independent kid just want to move back in with Mommy.
Part of my dream was being able to make a whole new bunch of friends. I mean, I love making new friends and I like to think I’d fit right into any social group… wrong. At the inception of new friendships, everyone loves each other, but eventually, friends start doing things that you don’t want to do.
They hang out in scenes you’re not so into; they make new friends as they grow independently. Friends are hard. In big cities, especially, people are out to be “seen,” not to be real. At some point, the city will do that to you, too.
I dress to be seen; I present myself at a bar to be seen and I go places where I know I’ll be seen.
Moving to the city will test your self-worth and integrity; it will force you to stand up for who you are and what you believe, which isn’t always the easiest of things to do. However, you must -- you must do it for yourself and for no one else.
Then, there’s the money. You plan it all out before you move; you probably even convince yourself that you’ll absolutely revel in poverty in New York (or London, or Paris or LA or wherever). You think it will be really cute and bohemian and make for a good chapter in your autobiography.
Well, let me tell you, it is not cute. If you think calling your parents in tears at a bus shelter in the pouring rain, having to ask them for money is cute, be my guest — it’s simply not. No one told me I’d have to factor in expenditures for broken bedroom windows, deodorant and contact lenses.
The worst part is, no one understands you. When you call your mother in tears because you just can’t get your act together and her response is, “But you’re living the dream!” you will feel like your whole world is crashing down.
In these moments, you will want to pack up everything and go home — back to your childhood room, your childhood bed and your childhood dog. My mom even offered to drive to London to pick me up when she couldn’t handle my teary phone calls anymore.
No one gets it. No one understands that even though the dream is more like a nightmare, you’re just not ready to throw in the towel. Yeah, you’re going through a crappy time, but who isn’t at 21 years old?
Making it to the “dream” is only part of the battle. Surviving the nightmare and waking up on the other side is the tough part. Though the dream isn’t quite as you imagined, one day it will be something great. One day, things will settle and thrive.
One day, things will be happy. Don’t give up.
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