10 Life Lessons Living In NYC Has Taught Me

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Living in NYC is hard. It’s not for everyone. But if you’re like me, and have always been drawn to this city, then you figure out ways to make it work.

When I moved to NYC from Florida 11 years ago, people would ask me why I wanted to live here. And I would always respond, “because of the bagels!”

Which is partly true.

But the other truth is that, for reasons I can’t explain, my gut has been telling me that this is where I belong.

So after graduate school, I packed 2 large suitcases, temporarily left my cat with my sister, and hopped on a flight to start my life in NYC.

The “Moving To NYC” Chapter Of My Life

When I first got to NYC, I had no job – no prospects even. What I did have was tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt and a Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling. And luckily, a few really good friends that let me crash while I got settled.

The plan was to figure out how to make money. Next, find an apartment I could afford. And slowly but surely, things started falling into place.

I moved here March 1, 2013. Within six weeks I had a job providing in-home counseling to families. And my first NYC apartment lease started on June 1, 2013. I flew my cat up 2 weeks later.

Oh, the nostalgia of it all!

Even though I was completely broke, miserable in my job, and felt incredibly lonely most nights, when I look back on the “Moving To NYC” chapter of my life, it is one of my absolute favorites. 

Finally Feeling Settled In NYC

After about 2 years, the excitement I felt every morning while taking the train started to shift into annoyance (and if I’m being honest, some days, it was more like full-blown rage #IYKYK).

And even though the novelty and magic started to wear off, I still loved living here. I knew I was in it for the long haul.

It took another 5 years or so for me to feel more settled. I started my private practice, met the person who would become my life partner, and had found a good community of friends.

There have been a ton of failures, frustrations, and lessons learned along the way. This city will chew you up and spit you out like no other.

And now that I have made it to the 11-year-mark, I am proud to say that moving to NYC was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life (queue Started From The Bottom by Drake ????).

I don’t know how much longer I will end up living in the city. As I get older, I do crave more nature, and have become completely obsessed with gardening. So it may be time for me to start a new chapter somewhere else soon.

But in honor of my 11-year anniversary, I want to thank this city for making me the person that I am today – the person I was always meant to be. And share some of the most powerful life lessons living in NYC has taught me. 

Life Lessons Living in NYC Has Taught Me

Turn Envy Into Inspiration

There will always be someone out there more successful than you. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing with their lives as something you must live up to. If it’s something you also want, use it as inspiration while you forge your own path.

Having More Time > Having More Money 

Being caught up in the rat race won’t bring happiness – it will bring sleepless nights, broken relationships, and deep insecurity. You are enough as you are in this moment. Imagine how it might feel to step outside of the hustle and, I don’t know – spend the limited amount of time you have on this planet actually living your life?!

No Communication Is Still Communication

Silence speaks volumes – whether you’re the giver or receiver of it. Even though it is more difficult to do in the short-term, in the long run, walking away is more empowering than engaging.

Never Judge A Hole In The Wall By Its Cover

Totto Ramen, Sunrise Mart, Absolute Bagels, White Bear. Need I say more?

Doing Nothing Is Healthy

If you don’t prioritize rest, you WILL burn out. Cancel plans if you’re exhausted. Just try not to make a habit of it. And when you create space in your schedule for “me-time,” you’ll end up feeling more present when you’re out with others.

You Are Not The Center Of Everyone’s Life

You won’t get invited to things. People will cancel on you. You’ll lose touch with friends. Practicing self-compassion while you step inside someone else’s shoes will serve you well.

Failure Is The Best Catalyst For Growth

You will make BIG mistakes. And feel nothing but regret in the moment. But if you take accountability and learn the lessons you’re meant to, you can turn those mistakes into tremendous growth and meaning.

Everyone Has A Story

You don’t have to like everyone you meet. And not everyone you meet will like you. Just remember that every single person is the way they are because of their experiences. Acknowledge their humanity, send them light, and invest in relationships that fill you up.

Surrender. Accept. Let Go.

There is only so much you have control over. Surrendering doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It means you’ve decided to fold – for this round. I’m not saying it’s easy. But when you choose to let go of one thing, you free up space to receive something else. Be gentle with yourself. And have patience.

Invest In Brain Health

Sure, designer handbags and fancy skincare is nice. But have you tried putting your time and money towards hobbies that bring you joy? Or healing your inner child? Or Real Self-Care?

And of course, therapy is a great way to invest in your brain health and make your experience living in NYC much more bearable. Check out more about my therapy services, and if you’d like to schedule a consult call or initial appointment, please reach out.

Are you a New Yorker? What is one of the most powerful life lessons this city has taught you? Please share in the comments below! And if you enjoyed this article, like it and send it to anyone you think may benefit.


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Hi! I'm Paige

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I’m a Licensed Psychotherapist based in NYC. 

I write about mental wellbeing, personal growth, and the never-ending journey towards self-fulfillment. Sign up below to get notified when I post a new article.

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