4. an imposter among us: new york edition

spoiler alert: the imposter is me (gasp!).

I have written and rewritten the following more times than I can count on one hand. In fact, I have an entire other draft that’s fleshed out with feelings from at least two months ago, so obviously I had to start over. (I shall include excerpts from said draft at the end of this rant.)

Long story short, I am now living in New York City. Well, technically Brooklyn. Williamsburg, specifically. But you get the point.

Sometimes, it feels surreal. Most of the time, it feels like I’m on vacation and temporarily working just to make extra money to feed into my time off. But when I walk down to the waterfront a few blocks away and I see the World Trade Center on my left and the Empire State Building on my right, I am awestruck. Like, I live here.

A familiar face from home moved to New York a couple of weeks after I did, and we met up after they got settled. (Keeping their identity anonymous, even though I doubt they read this.) I asked about their move, they asked about mine, and then the following was said to me, in an honest tone:

“I’m gonna be honest, I wouldn’t have pegged you as someone who would be in New York. Like, I never would’ve picked you out and told you ‘You need to move to New York’. Now it makes perfect sense, obviously, but I didn’t see it back home.”

I know that mostly only people who care about me in real life read this newsletter (hi mom), so before anyone can jump to defend me against something that on paper sounds like a read, hear me out: it hit the nail on the head, because that is exactly how I feel about this entire move.

Lucky for me, I have an incredible support system, one where every loving friend encouraged me when I told them I was moving.

I can totally see you thriving there!” “That totally makes sense for you!” “I always saw you moving to a big city like NYC!

While all of those encouragements were (and still are) uplifting at the time, I secretly (now, publicly) feel like an imposter. There were times when I would share my news with someone and I would feel like it should have been them telling me about moving to New York. These other friends (most of them, female) are people I often compare myself to, not in a conniving and jealous way, but more so an admiration and just straight up wanting to be as cool and self-assured as they are.

And being here now only emphasizes the feeling of not belonging. Everyone I see has cooler style, a bigger network, a fresh perspective, and it’s fucking intimidating. (Pardon my french, mom). The “big fish in a small pond” imagery really makes more sense once you become the aforementioned fish that chucks itself into the ocean.

I don’t want to wrap this up with some sort of positive outlook sentiment like “but I know I’m meant to be here” or “it will all work out” or “I know this is going to be an amazing time in my life”, because I do still believe those things. Still, there is room for the doubt and the fear that goes into all of this. Don’t get me wrong, the first night of being here, I legitimately thought to myself that I had made the best decision by moving here. That does not mean it isn’t going to be hard.

On that note, here are some things (fun, weird, and magical) that have happened so far:

  1. Watching fireworks go off streets away, from my rooftop, with two strangers who live in my building, sharing terrible red wine out of plastic cups.

  2. Arguing with an entire group of people on the subway about whether ASOS is pronounce “ay-sauce” or “ay-sOs” and if you should floss before or after brushing your teeth.

  3. Walking home in the rain at 10pm listening to this song.

  4. Eating ice cream (solo) at Brooklyn Bridge Park watching jet-skis along the river.

  5. Going to Coney Island for the irony but actually having a good time.

Post Script: Draft Excerpts

From Three Months Ago

“I haven’t quite had a good cry about up and leaving my friends and family behind to move over three thousand miles away, to a city where I only have mild acquaintances and a virtually signed lease in Williamsburg. As someone who hates change, this self-imposed life shift is almost hysterical.

During the pandemic, I saw friends (albeit, mostly married couples) pick up and move to different states, far away from any kind of support system, and thrive. I sat in my street-facing apartment, staring out at the passersby (cheesy, right?) and thinking that I could basically live anywhere in a pandemic and have the same experience.

I also attribute the decision to move to New York City specifically to the abhorrent amount of times I watched When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I remember reading this piece from Kimberlee Rhodes, in my bed at 2 a.m., about moving to New York and feeling relief at seeing my feelings and thoughts superimposed in someone else’s words. I even sent her an email, thanking her for her words and how they actually inspired me to take the risk she did.

I didn’t tell many people at first. I reached out to a friend of mine who lived in Brooklyn for a two year tenure before moving and traveling around the U.S., knowing damn well she would tell me to do it. I randomly messaged friends to inform them of my news. When I told my mom, I blurted it out and promptly left the house. That was back in December. Still six months until my lease ended and I’d have to figure something out.

And then, slowly, things started falling into place. I found roommates, acquired an apartment. Now we are less than a month out, and to be honest, I’m scared shitless.”