When I was fifteen I had an idealistic mind. I imagined myself married by the age of twenty four and two children on the way before I turned thirty. As I got older, those ideals changed. When I was twenty, I didn’t want to have children anymore and I didn’t want to be married anytime soon. Now I’m thirty and of course, my ideas about love and my future life have changed once more.
I’ve learned a lot since I was fifteen. I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel, to attend college, and graduate school. I have moved five times in the past four years, getting a taste of three out of the five boroughs New York City has to offer. Now I am living in North Carolina. For my British friends, North Carolina is about nine hundred and nine kilometers from New York. Needless to say, life down here is much different.
After separating from my husband of a year and a half, I was left alone to figure out life in this new part of the country. A part of the country that I have always wanted to live in. And a part of the country that has, more times than not, made me feel like an outcast with a giant scarlet letter adhered to my chest.
New Yorkers wear the old Frank Sinatra line (if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere) like a badge of honor. And I’ll be the first to admit that I was one of those people. I used to believe people who lived anywhere else outside of New York City had it easier. They wouldn’t understand how hard it was to deal with constantly being broke. Or not being able to find a new job. Even small things like dating, or being able to spend time with your friends all seemed to be easier from the outside view.
Having said that I still believe it’s okay to dream about living a town, or a city, or even another country. You should always want more out of life. Not in an impulsive way (I need to move every few years to see everything). But in a way that keeps you motivated. Keeps you hoping that things can be better, or keeps you thirsty for new cultures.
And to make things clear, I don’t regret where I live now. I actually love it here. But the hard lesson I learnt is that there is no utopian town. There is no perfect city where everyone will like you and you’ll be offered a job as soon as you arrive. There is no perfect relationship; whether that means with your partner, your friends, or your family.
There is no perfect love- but if you look hard enough, you’ll find someone who is perfect for you.
So after living for 30 years, here are the three important realizations I’ve had-
- Relationships require work on both ends, just showing up isn’t enough.
- Your friends are not the exact same people you knew in High School anymore. They have careers and families and will often be busy. So if you want to keep your friendships alive, you have to stay in contact with one another. One of my friends and I used to exchange weekly Sunday e-mails when we went off to different colleges. Anything helps!
- And lastly, you are not the exact same person you were fifteen, ten, or maybe even five years ago. So cut yourself some slack. You did things you shouldn’t have done but eventually you have to forgive yourself before those demons prevent you from being the person you are supposed to become. Don’t miss out on something potentially wonderful out of fear of it falling apart.
To quote A Cinderella Story, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
Jill is the author of What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan? and We've Always Got New York, both available now and published by Harper Impulse.