Just a little over three months ago I moved across country from west to east coast. Since I arrived here, my feelings have changed almost as often as the ocean tides do. I've felt excitement, loneliness, hopefulness, confusion, regret, and wonderment. I've been all over. There was a very low point when I was feeling depressed and so uncertain of my decision to be here. My family and dearest friends are so far away, everything familiar is out of my reach. It was becoming too easy to focus on all that was lacking rather than all that this place has to offer.
Then I realized that I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to accomplish some very big things in a short amount of time, all at once, and it was weighing heavily on me. It turns out a big life change is often very difficult to cope with and adjust to. In addition to that, school application deadlines were looming ahead and I couldn't muster the energy to complete them. I struggled with a sense of failure – my inner dialogue sounded much like, "If you can't do them now then your life will never amount to anything. You lose. You're not determined enough. You indolent!" But then a new friend told me to wait, and an old friend told me to be easier on myself, to give myself time. I felt I needed that permission to take a moment – to breathe, to settle – and once I received it I felt immensely better.
Since temporarily releasing myself from those self-set expectations I've been enjoying myself so much. I'm getting to know New York in a way I had never been able to before as a visitor. I'm growing more comfortable and discovering new things that I enjoy. For a time I disliked so much about this place (the weather really didn't help – I think we're out of the dark, finally), but I can see now that it was largely the anxiety of applications that made my perspective so negative. Yes, there are things about this city that I don't particularly admire (the way the garbage piles and swarms the streets, the lack of green. I've discovered I'm a true Pacific Northwestern girl). But those are starting to be outweighed by the things that I do. I'm beginning to see a tiny possibility of a future for myself here, and that feels exciting but also a little scary. The unknown, it always is.
An important part of settling here has been working on my apartment, making it feel like home. My favorite place is my bedroom, which probably doesn't come as much of a surprise. It's the space I am free to make entirely my own. It is filled with light during most of the day, thanks to my south facing window. I've collected several plants and they – the ones that I haven't killed yet – give my room a nice sense of calm. I've made a point of keeping the walls mostly bare and decorating in creamy whites and ivories so that it feels bright, open and clean. I've found those are the kinds of spaces that make my mind feel most happy and creative.
There is a large stack of books by my bed that I am endeavoring to read through. Several of them I started a long time ago and never was able to finish them, whether it was due to school or negligence. It feels good now to spend lazy mornings in bed (I haven't had those in a very long time), reading, drinking coffee, and usually nibbling on a snack of some kind. Toast smothered in lemon curd today. Soon I will pull myself out of bed and do laundry, some more reading, and then off to work. I'll spend the evening with some new friends, and will return home feeling hopeful about what New York will bring me next.
My sister, actually. Next week! I can hardly wait.
I'll tell you all about it, Kai.