Nothing in life comes easy, right? Those lucky (or crazy) enough to live in New York have learned this lesson time and time again.
Three months ago I left my friends, family, and the only home I have ever known in Washington, D.C. for a cute, beat up, old house in Bushwick, Brooklyn where I live with five (yes, five) strangers.
Did I think this through? A little bit. To me, living out my dream and coming to New York was worth the five roommates, living on a local train line and the stress of moving without a job. Finally doing what I had been talking about since I was a little girl was worth it all. What was the best way for me to get started?
Move to NYC Step 1: Netflix and Apply
First, I reached out to every network I had.
If I knew you knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who happened to know someone, you were going to hear from me. I ate lots of canned tuna, watched lots of Netflix and applied to over 30 jobs within two weeks of moving here. My life became applying for jobs, networking, and Netflix. Just apply, network, Netflix, apply, network, Netflix. Repeat.
Thankfully, I am surrounded by amazing individuals who want to see me win and I was able to find really rewarding work by mid-July. Soon, I was no longer eating dollar pizza and marginal canned goods, I was (and am) ready to take over the city.
Move to NYC Step 2: My “Welcome to NY” Moment
But let’s talk about my real “Welcome to NY” moment. I was meeting a friend from high school for a late Sunday breakfast someplace he randomly found online. We order our food and sit down to wait. Then I see a familiar face walk in from outside to pick-up his order. By “familiar face” I mean “a face I have seen on tv and online multiple times.”
It was Eddie Huang, a connoisseur of delicious food all over the world, who has his own Viceland TV show. He’s also an author and the inspiration for my dad’s favorite show, Fresh Off the Boat. I was freaking out on the inside and wanted to ask for a picture. Here is where my “I have to be cool like a real New Yorker” senses kicked in.
I told my friend who it was and noted that if Eddie Huang was eating here the food had to be great. In my mind, I had a quiet moment of acknowledgment between the two of us since I kept looking at him (acknowledging I knew who he is) but never interrupting his day. I like to think I played it cool and survived my first New York celebrity sighting.
Move to NYC Step 3: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Afropunk
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go Afropunk, but by the time I made a decision tickets were sold out. I then did what any desperate, yet procrastinating fan would do. I went to Craigslist. I found a ticket and sent my very hard-earned money. I knew in two short days I would be seeing SZA and Solange.
I arrived at Afropunk on a Saturday looking cute and ready to have the time of my life. That is until I was told, “sorry your ticket was already scanned earlier in the day.” Ugh! Yes, this happened.
I quickly realized I was the victim of a ticket scam (I was sent a PDF of a ticket after all) and a flood of emotions rushed through me. I was angry. I wanted to cry (maybe I did?). Was my life ending? No, but it felt like I was very close. I literally sulked around the Afropunk entrance for almost 15 minutes and decided it was time to leave. But I didn’t.
I asked a staff member how to get to the closest train but in doing so I also and gave him the SparkNotes version of me not getting in.
The “I am not going to give up” voice that I always seem to hear in moments like these clanged around my head.
I must have had some good karma sitting in an account somewhere because some kind soul nearby overheard my story had an extra ticket and I made it into the festival!
I cannot remember the last time I was this thankful. I made it inside and had a magical night.
Since I am not new to the festival scene, some could and should say I should have known better than to buy tickets on Craigslist.
However, I like to think that there is an unwritten code among music lovers that says “thou shall not scam other people who listen to the same music as you.” I learned that I am never ever waiting til the last minute to buy tickets again.
Even though I made the jump from DC to NYC without a job lined up, I planned meticulously, I consistently reached out to my network, shared my story each time, and was really specific about what I wanted. I also realized every point of contact counts. The power that comes with being communal almost always pays off.
I could have easily left when the first person told me that my ticket didn’t work but I did not leave. Don’t give up when your festival tickets won’t work. Don’t give up if you want to move but have no clue where to start. Don’t give up when you are about to reach the next level on your video game. That is the big lesson I have learned, and continue to learn, since moving here. I could have abandoned my NYC dreams before they started but I didn’t let being unemployed or anything else get in my way. This is where I want to be.
Anything worth having is worth putting in some effort and making the leap for. I’ve already experienced and learned so much in my first months here I look forward to what the city has to offer!