Don’t Bail on Your Manhattan

Recently, my husband and I moved into an apartment large enough for a dining table, a separate room just for my studio, and a small amount of private outdoor space. If you’ve ever lived in Manhattan, you understand that this is quite the fete! If I lived anywhere else on the planet, I could have bought a private jet for what we paid in rent last year alone. As we were getting settled in and enjoying our new space, I was reflecting on how we are in our 30s, and we don’t know many people who still live in Manhattan. I looked at my husband and said, “Everyone bails on Manhattan before they really make it.” Most everyone we knew moved off this tiny island when they were still in their 20s.

This upsets me greatly for 2 very good reasons: 1) Most people leave in search of something that feels “easier,” but in doing so, they give up on the exact life they were created to live. 2) Manhattan is the greatest place on earth.

Okay, so maybe my second reason is invalid and biased, BUT, my first reason is supes right on, and therefore, supes important.

I think we would all agree that everyone has entered this world with certain gifts. For example, for anyone who knows my husband, an engineering consultant, it’s very clear that he is a genius who belongs doing complicated physics-related analysis for a living. Now, anyone who knows me, would certainly say this is the precise thing I was NOT created to do. I don’t understand science, become utterly bored within moments of sitting at a computer, and can’t for the life of me comprehend who this Pi guy is. So, how absurd (and unfortunate for those with physics-related needs in this world) would it be, if I woke up tomorrow and decided I was an engineer?!

My point is, just like how people are created to do and NOT to do certain things, they are also created to live and NOT to live in certain places. Please don’t poopoo this thought before giving it some good thinking! :)

This truth becomes a problem when we’ve unfortunately never been exposed to the place we should live, or we have been exposed to it but we let it overwhelm us and we run away from it.

Do you have someplace on your heart that you love? There’s a reason for that. My whole life, I dreamed of living in Manhattan. I didn’t even understand what the city was, but everything about it made me awestruck. The first day I moved here, I was 20 years old and literally did not know one single person. I have such a vivid memory of marching out onto Eighth Avenue, running down the subway steps, hopping onto the E train, looking around at my new environment, and peacefully saying to myself, “This makes sense.” It was the very first (and only time to date) that I ever felt truly home somewhere. I was made for Manhattan.

5 years later, my husband and I were living in a small studio apartment on the Upper East Side (too far northeast for my liking), working way too many hours for employers that we didn’t love, and doing jobs we were never created to do. The summers in the city were hot, we didn’t own a car, and we both have a deep love for the surf and the sand. We bailed.

I spent the next (very unfortunate) 5 years of my life in a town on Long Island, that in retrospect, I hated. Yes, it was 10 minutes to the ocean, but it turns out, I was meant for more than just the ocean, and I was certainly meant for something other than suburban living. There was no doorman, package room, dry cleaning delivery, taxis, or swimming pool on the roof with a sparkly view of Manhattan! This place was like Mars. The problem bigger than the fact that I hated it, was that I would not admit to myself that I did. I convinced myself this must be where I should live, because it was “easier.” Instead of 400 square feet, we had 2,500. We owned a car that we could easily park in our driveway. Our future children would be in a good school district. The list went on and on that I would recite to myself over and over. Each reason was more boring than the last.

Finally, we had a wakeup call in the spring of 2014. Due to a health scare, we were literally forced to be in the city on a daily basis. The commute was draining and stressful, and the large spacious house, with what felt like one thousand steps just to get to the bedroom, was no longer manageable. We had no choice. We packed a moving truck, stuck a For Sale sign in the front yard, and went right back to where we always belonged: Our Manhattan.

In those 5 years, my husband started his own business and I started about 17 of my own! It turns out, we were made for Manhattan, just not the way we were trying to initially do it. Once we stopped working in the jobs that weren’t right for us, our life began to flourish in a way it couldn’t have before. Now we live in a neighborhood we like, in an apartment that is (slightly) larger than a shoebox, and we fly to the ocean whenever we need the salt, sun, and surf!

What’s my point? I bailed on my Manhattan once, and it was miserable. Don’t ever bail on yours. If it doesn’t feel like everything is working right now, ask yourself why that is, and what would be your most ideal life. When you realize the answer, believe it can be yours. It could take a few steps to get there, but put in the time, it’ll be worth it in the end. Do you want to live your whole life trying to convince yourself where you are is “good enough”? Or, do you want to be able to look back in 5 years and say, “That was hard work, but I’m finally living my dream.”

There’s an Instagram post I saw once that I love. It says, “If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.”

Let’s do this.

Love, Andrea Graye (your Soul Sister)