When I moved to the Big Apple, I had so little time to focus on the life adjustments required to live as a New Yorker. I had to live in less space with the same co-habitants: my not-so-neat husband, a large somewhat smelly of a dog, and two high-maintenance felines who enjoyed spreading their coats on my fine fabrics. That was all a given, but what about everything else?
While packing up our 2800-square foot castle in Atlanta, my attention went into what would go where and how it would get here. Would the colors work? Would the furniture fit? What if my husband slaved away, painting the master bedroom deep turquoise and I simply hated it once I arrived? There were too many questions and no answers.
In a New York minute, I was sitting in an apartment on the Upper East Side, feeling overwhelmed. I loved New York, but could I embrace this new lifestyle? I could have succumbed to my fears and paranoia, but I didn’t. I was entirely too excited to allow that to happen. So I took a deep breath, and I crossed off each phobia one by one.
I have an extreme fear of heights. Living on the 29th floor with an entire wall of windows could have been classified as a mistake. When given 3-4 days to find an apartment in a city where real estate moves at the speed of light, this seemed trivial. It wasn’t. But after a few months, I slowly managed to adjust, and eventually I didn’t think about it. Until that time, I avoided looking down, and focused on my captivating view of the East river instead.
I hate closed-in places. I conquered this by taking the elevator several times a day every day. It wasn’t laziness. Walking up 29 flights just to get home is more than a workout. I remember avoiding elevators at all costs in my pre-New York life, but I wouldn’t any longer. Now riding an elevator is second nature, and while living here, I don’t have much of a choice.
Fear of crowds is high on my list. I scratched that one off immediately by taking the 6 train on a regular basis. How is my experience? Sardine-like. If anyone had said that I would frequently be riding a subway in New York City, I would have declared it as my worst nightmare. Now public transit has become as regular as brushing my teeth.
I no longer focus on what might happen. I take each day as it comes, and try to think outside the box. Living in Manhattan has forced me to step away from the familiar, confront my fears and face new challenges head on.
Living in New York was most important. That beat any doubts, fears, or insecurities of mine. Even now almost five years later, it wins every time.