It’s Thursday night in Philadelphia, and I can’t sleep. I move to New York tomorrow. I’m a bundle of nerves, wound tightly to the point of bursting: into tears, into a fit of anxiety.
I moved to Nice, to Melbourne without knowing a soul. I traveled through Southeast Asia without a return ticket. Countries with different languages, different cultures. Cities that were multiple time zones away, cities without a direct flight home. Places that were so far away that I stopped being afraid of never coming back, places that were so foreign that I didn’t think to worry about fitting in.
By all accounts, New York should be easier. I know people in New York: my college roommate, an ex-boyfriend, friends from Silicon Valley, Melbourne, Chiang Mai. The cars drive on the right side of the road. Everyone speaks English (with a similar accent!). I know the public holidays. I can order a nonfat vanilla latte at Starbucks, and it will taste EXACTLY like the one I drank at the airport in Sacramento three weeks ago.
New York is a mere six-hour flight from home, only two time zones away. When it is morning in New York, it is morning in California. It’s not today or tomorrow or tomorrow minus five hours.
I’m not even an expat in New York.
This was supposed to be a late-night-inspiration post about not being afraid to take a risk, about saving your money and booking your ticket and then putting your faith in the universe that everything will work out. About not being afraid to go somewhere new, about treating life as a one-time-only adventure.
In my head, I know my worst-case scenario isn’t that bad: if I don’t like New York, I go somewhere else. If I fail, I go somewhere else. If I can’t make it in New York–because for every one who makes it in New York, who can make it anywhere, there are those distant shadows who fade into the departures terminal–I can go somewhere else and try.
But in my heart, I’m terrified. I actually don’t know if I can make it. It’s the type of fear that, rationally, I know I can twist and turn into a fire, the type that will motivate me. But right now: it’s the kind that’s making me catch my breath and wish I could go back eight months to that yoga class and backward bend into a carefree life in Ubud.
In Nice, in Melbourne, in Asia: I was OK with being a carefree traveler, with spending my days at the beach wondering idly about the millions around the world stuck in an office. But there’s something different about New York, a little detail that is dousing my optimism with anxiety. Like every other 20-something who moves to the big city with dreams of a big closet and a big paycheck and a big love: I want to make it in New York.