Saying Yes: Reflections on 1 Year in New York

new york city rooftopWhen I first posted here that I would be moving to New York for a new job, I included one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite people:

“Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” – the ever fabulous Tina Fey.

I read that quote right before going in to my interview for this job, knowing that if they offered it to me, I would say yes, despite the fact that I had never spent much time in New York, didn’t really know anyone there, had no idea if I’d be able to afford rent, was completely clueless as to how the subways worked,  didn’t even really want to move away from California in the first place, and so on.

I repeated it before moving to New York on Monday, June 16 of last year. I repeated it when I got lost in Grand Central Station on Tuesday, June 17, my first day at the new job. I have repeated it over and over again throughout this year whenever I have felt unsure about something at work; whenever I freaked out that I might be in over my head on a certain project; whenever there has been a delay on my subway commute.

You said yes, I’ve reminded myself, so now you’ve just got to figure it out.

The other day, one of my coworkers came into work looking particularly cheerful, and she told me it was because that morning was the very first time she’d felt completely comfortable in the new car she’d purchased several months ago. It was a manual car, and she’d been having a lot of trouble feeling confident enough to drive it around much, having had no prior experience with manual cars. She was taking driving lessons, but still felt very much on edge while driving the car.

On this particular morning, she’d been forced to move the car to a different spot on the street because there was construction taking place in front of her house. She said that there had been so many people around — police officers, construction workers, neighbors — and she’d been so nervous, feeling so put on the spot, terrified that something embarrassing would happen in front of all of these people when she tried to move the car.

But she didn’t have a choice, she had to move the car, and so she got in and did everything exactly as she’d learned in driving classes. She moved the car without a hitch. She said it was the easiest time she’d ever had maneuvering that car, and she said that this moment had given her the confidence she needed to feel like she could drive it around anywhere.

We agreed that maybe she’d just needed that pressure, to be put on the spot and forced to do what she was taught in her driving classes.

That is exactly what New York has been for me this past year — a push in a direction I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, a massive leap of faith, saying yes to something and having absolutely no idea if I’d be able to figure it out afterwards.

And while it’s been terrifying, it’s also been the leap I needed to start on some things I’ve been wanting to accomplish for a while, both big and small. I’ve started to grow my hair back out (and gone blonde!), I’ve stopped biting my nails for the first time in my entire life, I’ve mostly figured out my credit cards, I’ve focused more on the direction I want both my career and my personal life to take — and as of about two weeks ago, I’ve started writing a book.

Even though I still don’t necessarily feel totally at home in New York itself, I do feel very much at home with the place my life is at right now, and New York is one of the primary things that has made this feeling possible. And whether I choose to stay in New York for another year, or another five, or maybe a decade — that feeling alone is enough to convince me that I will always be grateful for saying yes in the first place.