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  • Priya Mukherjee

I Moved To NYC and It Sucks*

When you think about everything that makes you, you, to what extent does where you live speak to your identity? 

For me, and for a while, it was kind of everything.

I moved to NYC about one month ago. While it's amazing, fantastic, everything I dreamed of and more, its important to acknowledge that it also kind of just fundamentally sucks?

Now hear me out, since I promise this isn’t a ‘woe is me’ tale of unrecognized, concentrated privilege. 

Instead, it's what I hope is a bit of a vulnerable story that some may relate to. 

I was in college during COVID. With that lockdown came the loss of social norm, the loss of social life, and just all sorts of strange newness to the timelines we all know and are comfortable with. Its also during COVID that I found myself building a platform, and niching myself into a portion of the internet that I am still actively involved in (hi). 

After 2020, and COVID, and a lot of Dalgona coffee, I was really happy with living at home with my parents in our suburb in New Jersey.

So happy in fact, that when I spent another 2 years at home finishing up pharmacy school, I didn’t really mind it at all. Even as my friends started moving out, I was secure and confident in the life I had. Pharmacy student by day, Tik tokker also sort of by day. A strange and perfect combination that brought me joy and balance. 

But then suddenly and without a lot of warning, it was 2023.

There weren’t excuses made around COVID anymore, there was only reality and to me, a harsh reality it was. I was still in my hometown, starting a career that was fairly new to me while everyone around me was strides deep into their newer lives in new cities, their careers, and their adult communities.

I couldn’t help but feel more and more like I was unable to keep up with the currents of adulthood around me. I felt like I had hopelessly overgrown where I was.

I was stuck in the stagnancy of suburban life. And so, of course, I actively yearned to escape it.

I escaped the stagnant life I perceived by constantly making plans with my friends and coming into the city. I refused to sit in my home and do nothing for even one singular weekend. In short: I was always on the move.

Between working to grow my online brand, pursuing new creative enterprises and working my 9-5 in consulting, I was in the city quite a lot and for insane hours. I felt so much frustration constantly. I needed to be in New York almost every day of the week, how could I even keep up?

I was feeling stretched in several different directions and while I love to pretend like I can do it all; I was falling helplessly and consistently short. 

I became so irritated with commuting. Always a duffel, a suitcase, 3 outfits packed into a small cube to keep at my boyfriend’s place or my friend’s place in the city. I kept it up for a year like that, just shuttling back and forth and proxying a New York City life through mostly the generosity of my boyfriend who lived in New York already. 

I was miserable and I told myself constantly that once I moved into the big city for myself, it would all be different. But that’s where reality and the narrative I had in my head didn’t quite sync up. 

Commuting, just objectively, sucks. I was desperate to be rid of that daily time sink and to anchor myself to a home of my own in New York. 

So February 1st, 2024, I did just that - I moved into my dream city apartment and I stepped into the world I had been coveting for years. 

Gretchen Rubin says: “the flux of moving makes all kinds of major habit shifts, like losing weight or quitting smoking, easier—perhaps because, psychologically, moving makes us feel like we’re embarking on a personal do-over.” 

When I moved into New York City a month ago, it was my shiny new toy.

Never mind the egregious rent and the rats on the streets and the perpetual smell of hot dog in the air in certain parts of Midtown, I was so excited and tantalized by the world at my fingertips....for all of about 1 week.

It took one week for another harsh reality to come crashing down around me. Just physically being in New York hadn't changed me. I wasn't magically taller, hotter, or any of the other things I subconsciously associated with a change in location. I didn't suddenly ooze greater amounts of creativity. Writer's block was just as debilitating in the walls of a bustling cafe in NYC as it was in my suburban bedroom. All of the challenges I had with balancing work and content creating still existed in one form or another.

All in all, I was still the very same Priya, albeit with a lot more freedom and a couple more bills.

I realized I had been holding on to a “geographic cure" to my malcontent.

While that is something to definitely unpack further in therapy, I share my naiveté with the internet in the hopes of steering some other equally misguided soul into realizing that just moving to a new city, alone, may not be enough.

I spent so long looking outward and presuming that a change in environment would somehow automatically materialize a newer, better version of Priya but it's still me in here.

I moved to New York and it sucks, but you know what? Living in suburban NJ also sucks. And living in Paris also probably sucks, and living in London, Madrid, or any other glamorous city. And why? Because all of these cities will always pale in comparison to the glamorized, fantastical city life you've made up in your head.

And the wonderful reality about living in New York is that *sometimes it doesn't suck.

In fact, it often doesn't suck. Its the times that I'm able to push past my anxiety, depression, and frustration; I can tip back my head and soak in the sun beams reflecting off skyscrapers onto my face like I was always meant to.

I only recently found myself falling in love with the reality of this city over the made-up version of it that lived in my subconscious for so long.

And I have come to the hopeful conclusion that: I think I'm going to really like it here.

Fingers crossed.



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