Okay, so you’re a brilliantly motivated young gal living in Small Town, USA. It’s great, it really is. But you’re feeling an itch. A desire to pack your bags, to hop on that plane, and to see what city life has to offer. You’re hungry for a place with big lights, big buildings, and even bigger possibilities.
You are not alone, my friend. And that dream can come true—you can do it, promise. But before you do, here’s some advice to help you go from Leslie Knope to Ilana and Abbi.
Don’t Believe the Stereotype
Sometimes you hear that people in cities aren’t the nicest kids on the block. You hear that city folk are passive, that they’re always in a rush, that they’re kinda aggressive.
Not true, mostly.
Think about this, in small towns, everyone gets to work in their car. If you’re having a bad day, no one knows because you’re inside your little transportation sanctuary. Well in the city, everyone is together, walking to work. Or riding the subway to work. So sure, maybe crankiness is a little more public at points. Maybe that guy on the train’s Keurig was broken and he hasn’t had his cup of coffee today. Cut him some slack. People have bad days no matter the zip code.
Also, if you do find that people are a little more passive, don’t give into it. Stay true to your small town roots. You’ll be better for it.
You’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Please, please, please, take advantage of the beauty that is Walmart while you still can. That gorgeously inexpensive paradise does not exist in the city.
In fact, nothing inexpensive exists in the city.
Of course, everything is relative, but for us small town gals, city price tags can be pretty shocking. Spending $15 or more on every meal takes some getting used to. And it’s sometimes hard to keep track of your bank account and how fast it’s dwindling, especially when you’re new.
But you’ve got to be proactive. Save up as much as you can before moving. Give yourself a weekly, even daily, allowance. And limit yourself. Maybe only go out once a week, instead of your usual four. Invite friends over for a cooking party and forgo that fancy tapas place you made reservations for. Stop using Uber and pick up a Metro card.
Let yourself enjoy the wonders of city life, but always be realistic.
So Much Room for Activities
A part of the small town charm is that they only have three places to hang out. And while those three places have given you some of your best memories, they’ve become a bit repetitive.
This is not a problem in the city. Every borough, every neighborhood, every block has something to do. The restaurants, the bars, the theaters, the shopping—it’s all there, plus some.
Take advantage of this. Don’t fall into the all too common funk of only exploring the five-block radius around your apartment. Life can be busy—don’t let that be an excuse for not seeking new experiences.
And if you’re worried about the money—which is so valid—so much stuff in the city is free. Especially if you’re a college student. That student ID that you haven’t used since freshman year is your ticket to adventure. Seek out discounted shows and museums. Soak up all of the culture that can only be found in a place so big.
Keep Your Dreams in Sight, Always
You know when you walk into your local coffee shop and you know everyone at every table? Or you hit up the only Target within miles and recognize approximately 87% of the other shoppers?
Yea, that doesn’t happen in the city. This is both good and bad.
Sometimes knowing everyone can be exhausting. Sometimes you just want to be anonymous; you just want to go about your day without worrying about what you’re wearing or who you’ll spot across the room. And for that reason, the city is wonderful.
It lets you be you without the fear of judgment or reputation. You can finally wear those overalls or dye your hair blue or get that tattoo without wondering if you’ll run into your second-grade teacher at the mall. You can make mistakes and explore yourself; you are totally free.
But—and there’s always a but—the anonymous nature of the city can be lonesome. Back home, your friends live down the street. Meeting up for dinner can be planned and executed in a matter of minutes.
In the city, planning stuff is really hard. When your friends live in three different neighborhoods and only one of them has a subway stop near them, it’s like planning a freakin’ wedding trying to find a time to grab drinks.
Sometimes it’s not even worth the effort. And as a result, a lot of your time is spent alone. Which can totally suck. Sometimes you’ll be walking around this city filled with millions of people and you’ll feel very separated from the pack. Just being honest here.
And when that feeling hits you, call your mom, Instagram a #tbt from your small town days, and remember that everyone in the city has felt this same exact way before. Remember that it’s all gonna be okay.
You moved here for a reason. You made this big, brave leap for a reason. You’ve got this.
Image via Emily Lorentz