Out of the city slump

On one of my February magazine visits, an editor gave us a breakdown of the process to become a New Yorker. I don’t remember the exact timeline, but it was something like this: First you feel like you’re on vacation, then for a while you’re lost, then you love it, then you hate it, then you’re a local.

Even though it seems like so much more, I’ve only been here six and a half weeks, so I probably haven’t fulfilled her entire process, but I can definitely relate to those stages. In my mind all summer has been the day I leave, so it has all felt like a long, transitory vacation, but I have had my ups and downs.

After the first three weeks of intense site-seeing and getting adjusted, I was pretty exhausted, so my weekend trip to Boston came at the perfect time. I came back rejuvenated and refreshed. Then in the past two weeks or so, I hit another bump. I was drained from all the heat, a bit bored at work, feeling cramped in my apartment and exhausted from not sleeping well, and I found out I only get to be home for two days before going back to school. Don’t get me wrong; I was still having a blast, but it was less than perfect.

I’ve also been missing my best friends and family more than I expected to (no offense to them!). It’s largely my fault, because I make myself so busy that it’s hard to plan times to talk and I’m almost never home. But talking is hard at school, too, and I don’t often find myself feeling homesick. So I was surprised, but I’ve decided I feel this way for a few reasons. First, I feel like I’ve been here way longer than it’s actually been. Second, even though I know lots of people in this city, there’s no one that I’m really close to. I’ve gotten a lot closer with some of the girls here, but it’s not the same as being with people I can tell anything or have known for years. I miss that security. Third, this city is entirely new. And huge. Surviving on my own here is very different from surviving on my own at Mizzou, and it makes me feel so much farther away. Plus, at this point, Columbia, Mo., is home as much as Crystal Lake, Ill.

In the past week and a half, however, I’ve swung out of my slump, and I can say that I’m enjoying New York more than ever. Part of it was a few good nights’ sleep. Part of it was spending an entire day in the park and an evening at the ball field — getting me some fresh air. Part of it was settling into a good running groove in Central Park. Part of it was the pace picking up at my internship and my becoming better friends with other interns. Part of it was a surge in my networking successes. Part of it was realizing that I will probably have time for everything I hoped to do here.

But the biggest factor, I think, was friendly faces. I had my two visitors, one who had lived in New York and one who had never been here. It was fabulous to catch up and talk about home and our knowledge of each other’s lives. Seeing them just made me feel more grounded and connected to the rest of my life, from which I have felt so far away. It was also great to be with someone who knew areas as well as I do and then to show around someone who’d never seen them before.

And these visits also gave me a huge confidence boost. My friends made me realize just how much I’ve learned this summer, how much I’ve seen and done, and how comfortable I now am in New York. Keeping up with someone who spent a whole summer here proved that I’ve fully adjusted, and guiding someone who was totally new made me suddenly aware of how much is now second nature to me — such as the subway, my biggest fear coming in.

My knowledge has also benefited random people on the street. Few things make me happier than when someone approaches me to ask for help and I can confidently answer all their questions, and this has been happening a lot lately.

Now, I know I’d have to live here months longer to claim local status, but I can’t help but think I might be too far away.


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