Since my 21 birthday, New York has been in the periphery of my mind, just sort of taunting me. A couple of times every year I would think about moving up there, before listing off a dozen excuses of why it wasn’t a good idea.
I’d go to visit friends who had relocated immediately after college, and think, “I should have done that.” But it was always in past tense. I never thought “I should do this,” I just thought, “I should have done this.” New York felt like a move you make at 22, and every year, was another year farther from 22. It was too late and I was too comfortable.
A few years ago I had a summer intern who I just adored. The whole time she worked for me, I found myself dropping hints to her, if not flat out telling her, that she should move to New York after she graduated. She didn’t want to move to New York. It was not her thing. After a while, even I wondered why the heck I was pushing it so hard. Finally she asked me the question I must have been wondering too: Why don’t you move to New York . “I think I’m a little too old to make that move now,” I said, matter-of-factly. And there it was. The truth just staring back at me. I was afraid to start over. More specifically: I was afraid to start over in New York. There was something about that particular city that intimidated me. But the scariest part of the entire conversation, and probably the part that shaped the year to come, was the fact that I had used the descriptor “too old” as an excuse not to do something. I was 27. This was deeply unsettling.
Rewind about 10 years to the days that I used to tape quotes to the back of my bathroom door. (Remember those days? When we didn’t just “Pin” inspirational quotes, but we actually wrote them down?? And if you were as cool as I clearly was, you might have even trimmed the edges with those ultra-fancy, decorative-edged scissors. Yeah… those were the good old days.)
Well, one of my favorite quotes read:
What you are most afraid of is a clear indicator of what you must do next.
I tried to live my sixteen-year-old life like that, to the best of my limited ability given that… I was 16… and most of the things that scared me were also things that I was (and should have been) expressly forbidden to do. What is the world had made me quit living that way?
There I was: 27 and terrified to quit my job and move to New York to start over. I had no job prospects, no solid connections, and no idea where to start. For those of you who know my story, you know that I started by quitting said job, and taking off on a four-month backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. But when I got back to the States, I gave myself one month to wrap up loose ends, sell my car, pack four suitcases and make the move: To the city that scared me most.
While I was in New York I didn’t write about it- or at least I didn’t post anything I wrote about it. Maybe because all of the things that I was uncovering were things that my peers had discovered when they were 22, and again… I still felt old. But it was a story that was so worth sharing- that I have decided to start writing about it now.
So yes, I’m currently living in Japan, but over the next few months, I am also going to tell the story of one of the best adventures I almost didn’t take.
I know my mom’s been waiting for these stories for a long time. Hope some other people enjoy them too 🙂