Sustainability + Lifestyle

A Midwest Girl Living in an East Coast World

August 3, 2016
midwestgirl

Growing up as a Midwest girl created a lot of angst for me when thinking about living in a big city. After moving to Florida, meeting the love of my life and finishing the first half of my degree, I knew it was time to fulfill my dream of living in a big city. I wasn’t happy living in the South and really needed a change for the better. I had strong aspirations to build a good career and live somewhere with more opportunities. After finally figuring out that I wanted to pursue marketing I created a goal for myself to land my dream job at a marketing agency in Manhattan. After weeding out several cities my partner and I decided to pack up our things and our two cats and move to New York City.

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into with finding a place to live without being employed. But our desire to live in the amazing city helped us to pursue our dream and we found a cute apartment in the Bay Ridge neighborhood in Brooklyn. We really lucked out with the delicious Italian restaurants and bakeries, the view of Manhattan at the park, a place where we always felt safe and had friendly neighbors. I managed to finish my degree and do some contract work at two great technology startups in the digital marketing industry until I obtained my dream job at Razorfish (a global digital marketing agency) on the SEO team.

One might think I had hit the lottery with how much I bragged about my job to my friends and family. My team and I were very close and today many of them have become some of my best friends. I had the opportunity to work on huge brands, go to fancy client dinners, travel to new cities and learn more about this industry than I ever thought I would.

2013 was a year of nothing but surprises after completing my degree, getting my dream job and then that summer on our five year anniversary the love of my life proposed during a visit to the top of Rockefeller Center. Our engagement is what really led me to start my fitness journey. Of course I wanted to shed some pounds before the wedding like any girl, so a friend helped me start some at-home workouts since I couldn’t really afford the gyms in New York.

While I always had the big dream of living in NYC, I didn’t realize just how expensive everything was. In order to save money for our future, my husband and I got married with 40 of our closest friends and family at a cute farm-to-table Italian restaurant in Brooklyn and the day couldn’t have been any more perfect.

After returning from our honeymoon in Colorado it was back to the routine. Our lease was coming up after living in Bay Ridge for two years. While I loved the neighborhood the only disadvantage (and it was a MAJOR disadvantage) was that we lived on the last stop on the R train, which is probably the longest train in the NYC subway system. Commuting to the city each day and being so far from friends quickly became a game-changer so we decided on a move to Ditmas Park and a better train line.

Ditmas Park was a special neighborhood in a lot of ways for me. After growing up in suburbia, I was quickly exposed to more cultures and grew a huge appreciation for all sorts of different people. Yes, there were some shootings near our home. Yes, there were drug deals down the street. BUT the neighborhood had great restaurants, an organic food coop, a better train line and we were right next to Prospect Park (basically the Central Park of Brooklyn).

Sadly my team at Razorfish started to part ways and move on to new opportunities, as did I. I started doing contract work, which lead me to a huge full time opportunity as a VP in Global Digital Marketing at a major financial institution. I really loved my job and was learning a ton about various digital marketing channels. The opportunity was so great that we decided to start looking in Queens so that I could be closer to work since my job was a bit demanding. We found an apartment but unfortunately we didn’t get approved because I had lousy credit. I felt angry and upset. My husband has glowing credit; meanwhile I made some mistakes in my early adulthood and was still paying for them even though I made 4x the monthly rent.

I was so disappointed and decided to take a break from the apartment hunt since we had seven months left on our lease. We had originally planned on moving out of New York but I wanted to hold on to my job for a while and stick it out a few more years. My job quickly grew more and more demanding; I worked seven days a week, around the clock and quickly became overwhelmed. I started feeling like I was losing who I was and forgot what my greatest passions were. I didn’t see my friends; I barely called my family and was completely consumed by my job.

To take a step back – while I chose to take the path into digital marketing, I was always an environmental science nerd but never pursued it because I didn’t think I could be successful in it. I found a permaculture meetup in Brooklyn and attended every month to learn more and more about urban sustainable living. The speaker had a permaculture certification course that I really wanted to pursue but my job just didn’t allow me the extra time to do so. If I wasn’t at work, I was working out.

I found my “fitfam” at a tabata gym where I really started to build muscle and become obsessed with working out. I also got into bootcamps, spinning classes and yoga. Working out became my one escape from the big city and my job, the only place where I could focus on me and feel great. It was the one hour of the day that I really looked forward to.

The last two years in New York turned from LOVING the city to, well, kind of hating it. I had always heard that many people had a love-hate relationship with it and had finally learned what that felt like. I was always exhausted, I was tired of the homeless people hitting me up for money every day, I was overwhelmed by all of the people ALWAYS being around me, I was tired of how expensive it was, I was uncomfortable living in a small apartment, the car alarms, loud music and sirens at every hour of the night were wearing on me; let’s face it – I was over New York.

My loving husband could see the physical and mental toll my environment was taking on me. After many discussions, we decided that this was the end to our chapter in New York. Once again there were many changes on my team at work for the worse and I refused to continue to work so hard and be unhappy. We had many places on our list to move to but after visiting each one we fell in love with Austin.

We’ve officially been here one week and I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting back on the last four years. New York did everything for me that I had hoped it would and more. It taught me a lot about myself and helped me to push to limits that I never thought I could reach. I grew both professionally and personally. I learned patience. I learned what a healthy lifestyle was. I figured out that money isn’t everything and happiness means so much more. I met some of the most inspiring and incredible people that I have learned so much from. Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome but it was time for us to leave in order for us to pursue things in the next chapter of our life. It really is crazy how the universe works sometimes. I could be at our apartment in Queens going to my stressful job. Instead I’m in sunny Austin pursuing my own business, making time for the things that I want to do and that make me happy.

New York I love you and thank you for helping me evolve into who I am today.

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4 Comments

  • Reply Grimey August 4, 2016 at 1:49 am

    Such a thoughtful and thorough piece and a great thing to look at later in life. You’re going to change many times over but life is a journey.

    • Reply brusselandsprout August 9, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      Thank you so much! <3

  • Reply Cheryl August 4, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Mandy,
    I’m very proud of you and the decisions you have made. You will be the most successful entrepreneur because of your hard work, work ethics and you ambitions. I’m a very proud mom! I love you 🙂

    • Reply brusselandsprout August 9, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      Thank you, Mom! Love you too!

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