What Moving to New York Actually Looks Like

Kenya Menjivar

I’ve always imagined the journey from Texas to New York to be a glamorous and exhilarating move–like the ones you see on television. Gossip Girl and Sex in the City gave me high hopes. 

And although the move has been exciting–insane driving, cars honking every second and face sized bagels–my move was not as glamorous as the T.V. shows let you think. 

If you asked me five years ago, I would say I now would be living in a small, brick covered apartment in Brooklyn, watching the commuters dash towards the subway station from my window as a full-time writer. But as reality hits me in the face, I live in the mystery of Long Island, with an hour train ride from the city. A place that could not be more at odds with Manhattan. 

Five years ago I was a senior in high school hoping to attend the historical New York University. But after realizing the tuition was over 100,000 yearly and getting rejected, my hopes were against me. I attended a local college in Texas and finished in three years, counting down the days until I was able to make the big move. As I trudged against the stage during my early college graduation ceremony, I clung to the excitement of my life after college. 

But that, too, wasn’t like I had imagined it. I moved back home (raise your hand if you did to save money on rent?) risking the state of my mental health for a year and a half. And now here we are, living on the border of Suffolk and Nassau county. 

Long Island is spacious. It’s filled with suburbs, families everywhere, Main Streets in every town and, of course, only a 10 minute drive from the beach. It’s not a bad choice. It is the cheaper choice however, especially for a person in her early 20’s, who is still trying to figure out her life after college. And with a degree in journalism, the competition is immense. 

Rejection and interview after interview, I still stand living 1,500 miles from home. 

See, it’s easy to dream of your future and all the desires you have for the hypothetical life. And even though I am still a dreamer and a loyal futuristic thinker, I do have to face reality. 

It’s like Rory from Gilmore Girls, she dreamed and dreamed about going to Harvard and ended up going to Yale. I dreamed and dreamed of moving to NYC and have moved to the outskirts, but like Rory I made a decision that benefitted me and would help put me on the path I wanted to take. 

Facing reality means that I am a part-time barista, working to make ends meet. Barely having time to hone my own craft, fighting against the hours in the day. 

But in facing reality, I can give myself a pat on the back for even taking the leap to move to the overpopulated state.

Although I do not live in the city–yet–I do live in New York. I drove the 26 excruciating hours, through the pitch black night in Arkansas and through the corn fields of Illinois. And let me tell you, those fields went on for days. We took a breather in Ohio but quickly sped away the next morning, finally making it to the city of wonder. My mom is amazing. 

Now, I speak to you after experiencing almost two months in New York. Although the journey may have been a different and a second choice, I can’t leave you thinking I am anything but proud of myself. You, too, may be wanting to move to the city that never sleeps and I encourage you, follow your dreams. But I must warn you that the journey may not be as captivating as the youtubers make it seem. There are rough patches and that is OK. 

You won’t have your close friends only a drive away. You won’t have the familiarity of the roads from home. You won’t have the safe box you’ve lived in your whole life. 

But: you will have adventure. You will have new friends. You will have excitement. NYC is slowly coming back to life (kind of, post pandemic) and it is available to you. 

Everyone’s journey is different, and my desire is that by sharing a glimpse of my journey you don’t feel alone. Your journey, if you take the risk, could be beautiful and it will most importantly be your own.

Kenya Menjivar
Kenya Menjivar

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