Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Why Leaving NYC Was the Best Decision for Me

Why I really left NYC.
Picture this it was 2015 and I was depleted. I mean every sense of the word depleted. With a handful of people that I could call friend, I was broke, lonely and depressed. Yes, depressed. Finally it dawned on me.. it was time to go home. 

Whenever someone asks "How did you like living in New York?" I try to answer this question as carefully as possible. Why? 1. I don't want to scare anyone out of moving to one of the most magical cities on earth. 2. I know that my story is heavy and very few can understand my experience in the Big Apple. So, I usually  give an answer like "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." or "I loved it but as expected NY is tough and expensive. It was time to go." As many of you know, I'm an open book. There aren't many times when I hold back my honest opinion but I found that my truth was confusing some. Here's my story...
This is me on move in day at Astoria Park.
Before moving to NYC I saved up $8,000 in 3 months to give myself a head start on
my new journey. I was BEYOND excited. Just think, a dream that I've had since I was a little girl was coming true. "Momma I'm moving to NYC!" So, this small town girl packed up her UHAUL and moved in with her cousin and his girlfriend. I couldn't get enough of the city. Around every corner was a new experience and don't even get me started on the amazing food (drool). The opportunities are endless and life is about to begin, or so I believed....

Fast forward 6 months and I'm working a part-time job for $9.25 an hour and with $75 to my name. How did this happen? My job sucks. The girls I work with won't speak to me. I'm lonely. I'm struggling in my relationship at the time because my work schedule impedes on our phone time. How did I get here? This city of big dreams and bright lights has now become a dim back alley that is slowing killing my dream and my spirit.

 So the New York grind begins.
Ramen. Jumping turnstiles when I can't afford to pay for the train. Dollar Pizza.
Cheap happy hour drinks. Bare Foot Wine. You know... the works. I appreciate this time the most because it taught me to appreciate every single moment in life, even the lows.

As outgoing and as friendly I can be,  it was rather difficult to find friends. Working in the fashion industry is tough and a lot of the people are as fake as the photoshop the swear by. So there were many lonely nights and a lot of doing things alone. Dating helped alleviate going places alone and it allowed me to learn the city in a new way. Still, this was the beginning of a depression I'd be in for another year. I began to isolate myself because people weren't very nice to me. Soon the anxiety attacks were becoming more frequent and the thought of everyday life seemed more and more overwhelming.

Can we pause here?
So listen.. I grew up in a strong Christian household. Mental illness is something that you "pray about" and "Give to God". When talking about my depression it was very difficult for those around me to understand because to them depression is not of God. Pair that with the "Strong Black Woman" expectations and you have a recipe for disaster. Getting out of bed was difficult. Having everyday conversations was exhausting. I was so close to depletion that it was scary. There was this feeling that I couldn't quit even though I felt myself drowning. In the last few years I've seen an increase on encouragement of unhealthy behaviors. For example, "You can't sleep during the grind." or "Push past the sadness, it's only temporary." There are time when you'll sleep less and you gotta push through your emotions but let us not forget about those moments when you need to recharge your mind, body and soul.  I wish someone would've shook me and told me to run as fast as I could. But I stayed and I continued...

Day by day. New experiences regularly. Taking moments to sit on top of my favorite rock in Central Park to reflect on my life. Slowly but surely I was getting things back on track. I now had the luxury of living paycheck to paycheck but that was better than my $75 realness. 

The more success I obtained in modeling, the more money I was spending. When you attend events you have to look the part and I made sure I did so. Combine that with life mishaps, photoshoots and traveling I was now in debt. Capital One offered me more than enough to live off of by the time my paycheck at my new job started to decline so the swiping began. Fast forward to January 2016 and I had a total of $10,000 in credit card debt. Yes, I said it. 10,000 US Dollars. Owed. To Capital One. That doesn't include my student loan debt and other bills to add to the increasing weight on my shoulders. I was in over my head and it was TIME TO GO. 

So, I called my parents and explained my current mental and financial state to them. Without hesitation they told me to come home and... here I am! One year later and the majority of my debt is paid off and I've had the opportunity to save so I can prepare to move out soon. Living in New York was one of the most necessary experiences of my life and I'm grateful for it all. You couldn't pay me to relive it BUT I'm grateful nonetheless, lol. 

I didn't write this post to discourage anyone from moving to NYC or ask for pity. To be honest, I witnessed a lot of people find a great circle of friends and success during my time there but that wasn't my story. I experienced the other side of the Big Apple that takes a bite out of you instead of you biting it. The experience changed me for the better and made me SO much stronger. My world is different and I learned that it is limitless if you allow it to. Always shoot for your dreams and never fear failure. There will be times in life where you will try and the outcome may not be as expected and there will be times where you receive more than you could imagine. Although I saw myself living in the city longer than I did, the amount of memories I have there are endless. Know when it is time to stand fight and when it is time to go and collect more armour to win the war.

Peace and Blessings.