You know the saying, "If you can make it here, you'll make it anywhere." Here, of course, is New York City. Having left the Big Apple last November, I can tell you this saying may not be as true as you think.
I embraced the New York lifestyle for a time, holding down two jobs in my run. First, I was an extras casting director for big budget movies and TV shows, and then I was a magazine copy editor.
An introvert by nature, it wasn't long before pounding the pavement started to get to me. But when I moved to Atlanta, I was confident that my experiences cutting my teeth (hell, jaws) in New York City would make me a shoo-in for whatever I wanted in the south.
My friends, I couldn't have been more wrong.
I quickly realized no one was impressed with my ability to navigate a huge subway system (everyone drives here), my Ivy League education (I wasn't a lawyer making tons of money, so what was the point?) or interested in hearing stories about my adventures in the big city.
I learned I needed to be taken down a few notches. What people were interested in were things like me RSVPing on Facebook to a chili cook off three months from now, and when I planned to do yard work (having been a renter my entire life, this idea was foreign to me).
My neighbors circled me every time I left the house, curious about what I was doing and how I managed to have a job working from home. I never knew any of my neighbors in Bushwick; I immediately felt displaced. I should have been embracing the love from the sweet southerners, but I felt icy and nervous instead.
Leaving NYC is not for the faint of heart. (I reckon it's harder than even moving there in the first place.)
So, I put together a list of what to expect for you brave souls who are venturing into the rest of America:
Your friends will think you're dead and/or dying.
You missed an impromptu Nirvana reunion at Saint Vitus, and no one believes you of all people were not there.
Fun fact: I actually was in NYC for said reunion, and I skipped it on principle. I don't like anyone filling in for Kurt Cobain but me.
They will ask, "What do you do in your new city?" "What do you even eat?" "Did you learn to cook yet?" "Who do you hang out with... isn't everyone married?"
At first, you might feel it's your responsibility to kvetch about something to relate to your friends who are lost in that insatiable sea of angst where the only privacy human beings are afforded is when they stare at their shoes on the sidewalks. But just smile to yourself.
You will feel an odd sense of calm you may not have felt in a long time.
You used to lose sleep wondering if your rent check would bounce, how you were going to eat, which parties you were going to make and the ones you weren't because you just couldn't bring yourself to go all the way uptown after 9 o'clock. You only have $20 to your name, but you want to take a cab to work so badly, you're running late and it's three days until payday.
After a few months, the reduction of these issues even start to scare you. On my most broke days in NYC (read: day before payday, rent check cashed), I would lurk around for a movie set. I'd print out a fake lanyard with the name of said production, and then I'd park my butt by the craft service table and start carb-loading so I wouldn't need to pay for dinner later.
When I got to Atlanta, I started going crazy shopping. I had gotten so used to living off McDonald's Happy Meals and cheap wine, I had to have filet mignon and a Grafea leather bag when I moved. Make sure you chill on that lifestyle REAL FAST because it can and WILL catch up to you.
Intelligent and successful people do actually live and thrive outside the five boroughs.
Not everyone will be impressed you lived in NYC.
Your new friends will ask: "You paid WHAT to live WHERE?" "Is Williamsburg a version of insert-up-and-coming-New-York-City-neighborhood-here?"
Statements to anticipate: "I would never pay that to live anywhere." "Well, we're world class, too." "We hear the pizza at insert-local-pizzeria-name-here is just as good as New York pizza."
How to deal: That whole thing about flies and honey...well, it's true. Be polite, and try not to talk too much about yourself.
Most people will never understand your insatiable desires to skulk the streets of Manhattan on a rainy fall day by your lonesome and pay $2k per month in rent to have that right, but it's your life, not theirs.
You will some (if not a lot of) jealousy and regret when looking at your friends' social media.
Most likely, when you were in NYC, you had lots of fascinating pix snapped in fascinating places.
The Tim Burton Retrospective? Damn right you were there. The night you partied with Megan Fox? You hugged like besties in a photo.
Now you're in a city that boasts there is a lot to do, but most likely, you're going to compare it to the city you came from that has everything to do. At times like this, try and remember the reasons you wanted to leave. If it had just been about the good times, you would have stayed.
Pictures aren't everything. Remember when you were partying with Meg and you had your apartment broken into the night before? Comparison is the thief of joy.
Take pride in the new life you made for yourself, and show it off, too. Yes, you are going to want to snap on Facebook and inform everyone in your new hometown that New Yorkers are more afraid of L train delays and Seamless outages than they are of bombs, but resist.
If it had just been about the good times, you would have stayed.
It might be harder to stay in shape.
Let's face it: In New York, your body is your vehicle. You need it to work even on your worst days. Unless you're a superstar hiker, you will probably never log as many miles in your new home as you did pounding the pavement.
So when you have that pumpkin ale with dinner, realize you're going to have to make up for it twice as hard. Most people who are fit and don't live in NYC are accustomed to getting in a car and getting to the gym. But if you just aren't that motivated, check out one of the million workouts available for free on YouTube that you can do in your home. (I recommend kettle bell swings).
And hey, now that you aren't in NYC, I bet you have way more space to work out in the privacy of your own home.
Movies and trends come out way later.
You'll most likely have to wait to stream on Amazon and check fashion blogs to stay on point (if that stuff matters to you).
You'll learn life does exist outside of New York City.
I was really surprised a few weeks ago when I read an interview with a guy in a Brooklyn band who said, "We have Saint Vitus Bar — a metal venue that nowhere else in the US has." I live in an area called East Atlanta Village, and there are three metal bars alone within a five-minute walk of my house.
There is a ton of cool stuff all over the United States, so don't assume it only exists in NYC. When you get to your new destination, I recommend volunteering or hanging at local music venues. You'll find your people soon enough, and they'll point you in the right direction of where to hang out.
All things considered, you should still always give yourself a round of applause for daring to live in New York. It takes a certain combo of nerve and sinew, and no one can ever take that away from you.
But do try your best to keep it to yourself.