8 Years in NYC!

I still can't believe it was 8 years ago to this very day that I moved to NYC!  I moved to New York on September 20, 2008 just after graduating high school with big dreams to become a model. My plan was to just give it a shot for 3 months, and then move back south to attend college at the University of Georgia. I was already enrolled, had a roommate, and had requested for deferment to start school in January instead of my original fall enrollment. After 3 months of being in NYC, I knew that it was way too soon to leave. ((I had finally started getting the hang of taking the subway for crying out loud...!!)) So I decided to stay and apply to the Fashion Institute of Technology to attend school in the city.

It has been such a wild journey so far that I could talk so much about-- full of major ups and downs-- but it has been the greatest adventure that I wouldn't trade for anything else! I thought it would be fun to share 8 things with you that I've learned so far from living in this crazy city! :)  

1. Get out of the city as much as possible.

There's nothing like living in this amazing city, but there also isn't anything quite like escaping it every once in a while to help you remember just how amazing it actually is. Part of the reason I feel like I've been able to last so long living here is that I make it a priority to get out, catch my breath, recharge, and come back feeling refreshed + refueled! Sometimes you forget that the world doesn't revolve around NYC ((shocking, I know)) and it is important to get out every once in a while and go to a small town, travel abroad to somewhere new, or even just take a day trip to the mountains upstate to get some fresh air + fresh perspective.

2. January is terrible. February is worse. 

This sounds bad, but it is oh so true. I am not a winter person... never have been and I highly doubt that I ever will be. So this one shouldn't come as much of a surprise to those of you who know me well. ;) Don't get me wrong, December is magical. There is absolutely nothing like Christmas time in NYC! It is absolutely beautiful + picture-perfect... but then Christmas ends and there are no more pretty lights + trees, everyone's holiday spirit has died and it's the middle of January. The snow is no longer cute + romantic because it has now turned into icy-slush, and you're SO cold that you can't even remember what it's like to not wear 27 layers under your parka ((aka sleeping bag)). And just when January finally ends and you start to think you've survived winter in New York City, HERE COMES FEBRUARY. God bless America. Just prepare your heart for winter... but the summers make it 100% worth it!

3. Stand for something or you'll fall for anything.

You need to constantly remind yourself to stand firm for what you believe. One of the greatest things about New York is that you are free to be whoever you want to be. I absolutely love that about this city, and I think that is actually a very beautiful thing. However, staying true to yourself and your own convictions is very important. Confidence is everything. I have actually turned down multiple modeling jobs that I did not feel right about doing. Not because the job was "bad" or the people were "bad," but because it wasn't something that lined up who I am or who I want to be. Even in desperate times, I was proud to say no to these types of opportunities. Know who you are, and know you who want to be; otherwise, this city will quickly decide that for you. 

4. Find a community  + build REAL relationships.

NYC did not become home to me until I finally found a community of people to do life with. When I first moved here, my community was the people that I worked with doing background work on film/tv. That is where I met my first friends and where I spent most of my time.  Then I started getting involved with my church, Hillsong, and that quickly became another home + community for me. I volunteer at my church and spend a lot of time there. Whether it be at a service on a Sunday, or a Tuesday night having "connect group," or even a weekend brunch with friends, I love that I am a part of something so much bigger than myself. Your community could be at the gym where you work out, or your classmates in school, or even the blogging network you are a part of, but having a community that has your back and loves you for who you are is important and has made all the difference for me while living in such a massive city. 

5. There are more opportunities here than you can even imagine. Choose wisely.

Don't forget why you came to this city in the first place. More than likely, you came here with a goal in mind and with a dream in your heart. ((And if you're anything like me, with not nearly as much money in your pocket as you needed to survive even one month here. Ha!)) Sometimes it seems like there are absolutely no jobs out there, and way more people than opportunities. You may have felt like you've already tried over and over and you still can't catch a break... But I would like to encourage you and say that there actually are endless possibilities in a city like this, and to be careful about what you immediately say yes to. If you came here for something, don't stop until you get it. Never give up on what you are so passionate about. The people who stick it out are the ones who finally see a break through! With that being said, sometimes you have to be willing to take an opportunity that may not be your ideal job at the moment-- but just don't forget your dream in the meantime. Helen Keller said it best, "Be happy with what you have while working for what you want."

6. It's okay to be a tourist-- sometimes.

I am the girl who has lived here almost a decade, yet still likes to take a stroll through Central Park, take 100 pics at Top of the Rock, eat as much food as humanly possible at San Gennaro in Little Italy, and go see a broadway show at any given chance I get. There is nothing like New York City. Enjoying all that it has to offer means sometimes ((heaven forbid)) wandering into Times Square-- looking around at all the bright lights, being surrounded by excited tourists, and reminding yourself that you live HERE. This is home now. And you can do whatever the heck you want. 

7. You're living in the greatest city in the world. Act like it!

Sometimes I get frustrated when I hear people talking about how hard it is to live here, how annoying it can be, and how much they can't wait to live in such and such a place again, etc. Yes this city is hard to live in and yes it can be SO freakin annoying at times, but it's New York City. Chances are, you chose to live here and you probably won't live here forever. Enjoy it while you're here! One of these days you are going to look back on your time living in this city and wish you would've taken advantage of it more.  Don't take it for granted-- some people would kill to live here!

8. Be tough. You've got this.

I've heard people say that this city will eat you alive.  So dramatic, I know... Although that can be true, I don't think it's likely if you keep your head in the game. This isn't a place where you can just stroll through life day to day. You need thick skin to live here. You have got to stay on your A-game. You have to pay attention to where you are, what you're doing, which train to take, and be aware of what's happening around you. Is that a reason to be intimidated? No. Just be tough-- even if that means giving yourself a pep talk to make it through the day as you're walking down the street in tears, hiding behind your sunglasses. You've got this! :)


Hope you all enjoyed this post! Does anyone else have any tips for NYC living? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Xo- Tara