Weirdly enough, when I was first preparing to move to New York City, my number one concern was about making friends.
This was the third big move I would make as an adult, after six years in Phoenix and a whopping two months in Orlando. After both of those moves, it took me a lot of time to find my “squad,” as the kids are calling it these days. I’m pretty timid by nature, and I’m also an introvert – meaning I’m more inclined to spend my weekends watching Netflix than out at the bars. But after so many nights in a row, that can get real old – and lonely.
I didn’t want to experience loneliness in New York City, which is often called the most lonely city in the world. Ironic, considering the population is over 8 million. But when you’re surrounded by so many strangers, a lack of friendship can really stand out. As I said goodbye to my people in Phoenix, I vowed that I wouldn’t experience that loneliness again: I was going to put myself out there, to attend events and have experiences and meet interesting people along the way.
I’m not sure I really believed it myself, but New York was what I had always dreamed of, and I didn’t want to mess it up. I wanted to be happy, and I wanted real friends.
A week and a half into my new stint as a New Yorker, I visited a church. It was hard: It seemed like everyone knew each other. I said hello to a handful of very nice people, sat through worship, and went home. But even though it was hard, I did it again and again, week in and week out, until it wasn’t as hard. And before I knew it, I realized that I wasn’t anxious anymore. Every week I would see someone I recognized – and they recognized me too.
Two years later, these people are more than a squad – they’re my family. Earlier this month we all boarded a plane to the Bahamas together and did nothing but lie on the beach and drink tequila for three days. But it’s not just about the vacations. The truth is, living in New York is hard – but these people make it seem easy. When my pipes froze and I didn’t have water for two days, someone let me shower at her apartment and come over whenever I had to use the toilet (glamorous, right?) When my sister was sick, a group came over and cooked me dinner and did my dishes. They’re the first to hug me when I’m sad and cheer with me when I’m happy.
Last year on this date, I wrote what was more or less a love letter to New York City. This year, I know that the city is great but the people are better. Moving here was the second best thing I ever did; putting myself out there and building a community was the first.
Happy anniversary, New York!