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From NC to NYC and LA - 3 takeaways of moving to a major city after college

A week after graduating college, I moved to New York City. I never wanted to live there, but I was able to get an internship at the New York Post and I could not say no to this great opportunity. As I learned the ropes of living in Brooklyn, working in corporate news, hustling to make the subway on time even if I was squished, while also becoming an angry pedestrian (just at times), I quickly realized by month two that it just wasn't the place for me.

As someone who had studied in Los Angeles and always thought that was where I was going to end up career-wise, it was hard to come to terms with the fact that LA had to wait and I had to learn to like NYC. By month six, I was ready to leave. All along I knew my stay there was temporary and something in the back of my head always told me I was just there to try it out. Multiple factors came into play with me leaving- my financial stability, my mental health, my happiness, and post-grad depression.

A major thought that always came to mind was that whatever I did was for myself and well-being. Yes, that sounds selfish, but it's the reality of life once you leave your hometown and begin life as an "adult."

As a former perfectionist (I used to be since life has thrown so much at me for the past 1.5 years), I had to realize that sometimes things aren't the way you hope and you have to figure out what the next best step for you is. At the end of the day, I was the one taking the big leap of faith in leaving a great professional opportunity, awesome friends (they are what I miss the most), and a city I had yet to explore for a move across the country with no job, barely any money, and just an optimist mindset that LA was the place for me (I could write more about my NYC hustles and struggles, but we'll save that for another post).

I do have to say that I have privilege in being able to have had the NYC experience and then decide that the LA move was what was best for me. Honestly, I could not have done any of this without the help of my family, friends, my college savings (rip), and the jobs I have had.

On November 2, 2019, I boarded my flight to LA. At first, I thought that the rough days of transitioning to a major city were over since I had already dealt with NYC. Little did I know that LA was another beast of its own. If one comes from money and has the financial support to make these moves, there are a lot of advantages that make the transition easier. But not I said the hen. From living paycheck to paycheck in NYC where I felt I was literally drowning, LA did not prove to be any easier.

So, anyways, before I get too deep here are three major lessons I have learned from living in LA for a year despite the pandemic and the craziness that these past few months have been. I know the titles are cheesy, but below I go a little bit more in-depth and include some anecdotes in case you're interested in getting the full scoop.

  1. Things only get better with time

  2. Embrace the loneliness

  3. Enjoy the ride!

1. Things only get better with time - I had to go through MANY struggles to finally feel like I was 'settled in.' It wasn't until March when I felt I could finally breathe a little and then the pandemic came along. These were battles I had to face on my own most of the time. Moving there was just the beginning. I had to get on the job application grind while somehow making ends meet financially (I've become a master at budgeting). In December, I began working at a Holiday Card company doing customer service with people from all walks of life. Most of my coworkers were Boomers who had no clue how to work computers so let's say it was a good time and definitely had some laughs while dealing with very angry customers. Was that what I had imagined for myself after graduating as a journalist from a top university? Not at all, but it was all part of the hustle and it definitely helped humble me and motivate me to keep pursuing what I wanted to do.


This picture above with my family was taken on my 24th birthday this year. Special shoutout to them for being my rock and support always.

2. Embrace the loneliness - Moving anywhere especially a major city alone is TOUGH. But it has allowed me to grow and mature in ways I never imagined. It has also allowed me to appreciate my family and my life at home more than I ever have. I grew more in my faith because it is what keeps me grounded. As I navigated through some dark times wondering whether my move was worth it and what in the world was I doing alone so far from home, I had to have faith and hang in there. These past months I have been on my own have allowed me to get to know more of what I like, what I don't like and how I like to live my life, and who I want to surround myself with. On the outside, LA culture can be seen as very shallow and superficial and I know that is not me nor who I was raised to be. Therefore, I'm grateful for the friends I have and the few I've made here. They've become my support group on this west coast adventure. But I've also learned to be happy being alone in whatever I am doing as well as picking up hobbies that I enjoy. I've gotten really into health and fitness though maybe it was because I had to ration my meals since I was so broke, but it is something I enjoy doing and has become a hobby and lifestyle. I run like 12-15miles a week now! Reading is something I am slowly picking up while also making content like TikToks. Diane Guerrero's "In the Country We Love" was a great book to read during these times since she and I share similar experiences when it comes to adulating and finding your self worth when all odds are against you.


Me on one of my solo LA hikes at Los Liones Canyon trail.

3. Enjoy the ride - Ever since I left North Carolina, I have seen my life as a roller coaster. These past few months have been a bumpy ride full of mainly downs but some ups every now and then that have helped me to keep pushing. Breakdowns are always there to help you let it out and suffer when you need to. At one point, the car my grandma had let me borrow broke down in the gym parking lot before work and I had nobody to help me fix it but also no way to get home (my commute was over an hour with traffic). At that moment, it felt like everything wasn't going the way I expected. If it wasn't one thing, it was another and I reached a point where I was tired and wanted to give up so bad. The calls with my family and hanging out with my friends helped me to relax and know that those struggles were just a part of the experience. Last year, I would not have pictured myself blogging about the constant struggles I have had in my LA apartment. But here we are. Who knows where life will take me in the next year or so, but I am hoping this can help other people who just graduated college or moved to a new city and learn that it is okay not to be okay.

Before moving out of NC, I had a vision for myself and my personal goals. That vision has shifted a lot and I have to learn to adjust to the present and enjoy the small blessings of life. The struggles and problems I have encountered have served as huge learning experiences and blessings that have only made me stronger and have helped me build character. If I had all my dreams fulfilled the moment I moved to NYC, I am not sure where I would be. This is all part of a journey and the Diego from 2019 would be happy to see the Diego of 2020 and how much he has grown and learned to appreciate life above any other type of accolade or professional success.

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