365 Days in the Real World

There have been a lot of changes in my world over the past 365 days. I’ve lived in 4 different corners of NYC, talked to more people a day than I used to meet in a week, saved up more money in the city than I ever thought possible and have had more fun than they say you do after college. I am truly in awe of what the past 12 months have brought, it’s been quite the journey.

The real world is better than college, seriously it is.

This isn’t what everyone told me, it’s exactly the opposite. But I’ve found it to be true. The fast-paced momentum of the city has given me an energy I didn’t have before, an energy to stay up late writing, emailing, hitting the gym and reading Gloria Steinem’s amazing novel, My Life on the Road.

I now have so, so many culinary corners to discover, indulge in more late-night pizza (and any other food I want, at any time of day) than I ever could in good ole’ Virginia, and have thrived for a year in this crazy beautiful city I get to call home. Sure, college is a great time y’all, but there is so much life to live and so much life to still look forward to.

Let your greatest strengths shine through your work.

At the age of 4, I had the cleanest (half of a) room you could imagine a small child to have—every piece of clothing was in it’s place, all of the time. My sister’s side of our room gave a stark contrast and from a young age, she has referred to me fondly as the “human typewriter.”

It didn’t surprise me when my manager moved me to the New Member Development team for a week to “organize” the overwhelming number of incoming WeLive leads (shameless plug for an incredible way of life) and again to the sales team at WeLive to help “organize” and “manage” the backend processes.

I promise that organization isn’t my only skill, but to this day it’s really cool to see your core characteristics shine through and be recognized in the work you do day to day. It makes me feel like I’m in the right place, doing the right thing, vibing as the little organizer I’ve always been.

Save money, it’s empowering.

When my bank account hit more digits than it’s ever seen in its 23 years of existence, I took a screenshot of my balance and named it **GOALS**. It’s still on my desktop if you’d like me to prove it.

No, but seriously, I’ve saved more than I ever thought possible just by keeping track of where all my money goes via this nifty tool. I’ve had a savings account since I was a little kid, but the whole dynamic shifts when you’re completely on your own. I don’t believe in eliminating nights out or fancy dinners (I of all people live to taste the food NYC has to offer), but I can make more informed decisions on what I should buy this month and what should wait for the next.

One of my favorite resources and sources of financial inspiration is Stash Wealth, who I was able to meet through the rockstar WeWork network (another perk of my awesome job). Saving for the future, for long-term goals, now makes you feel like a real grown up and sets you up for a kick-ass future.

Travel!

Within 9 months of working in the real world, I was off to spend 5 glorious and sunshiny days in Playa del Carmen—that’s something I’m proud of. I always find it incredibly powerful to experience different lifestyles. Being in Playa del Carmen gave me a new perspective on what it would be like to live abroad, and a gentle reminder that we have a choice in living the 9–5 way of life.

If there’s one thing you learn in life as an adult, I think it should be that your priorities truly do define the way you live your life and the outcomes you accomplish. If you make travel a priority, there’s no reason why you won’t be able to make it happen.

There is love in the heart of the city.

They say that New Yorkers are unforgiving, harsh, tough. But I haven’t found that to be the case. Humans are humans, no matter where you are. There are these kinds of people anywhere you go, just as there are people bringing sunshine into the world, people fighting for change and people hustling to do great things.

One thing I know of NYC for certain is its heart, of the diverse nature and vast experiences this city has to share with those who live here. I was on the subway one night on my way home when I realized that the man sitting on the bench across from was a talented artist, sketching a man sitting further down along the bench to my left. The man being sketched did not notice, as he was lost in the pages of his book. Right before he got off the train, the artist passed his sketch to the man, all rolled up and with an inscription on the back that read “So that you remember these nights on the train going home.”

The man was touched and wanted to give the artist some change, but he was already gone. Certainly one of the better ways I’ve seen people ask for money on the train. I mean, how cool was that? How could that not make you smile?

NYC is full of these stories and so much life. It is full of the good, the bad, the ugly, the challenging, the uplifting, the inspiring. You can find it all in the heart of this city that I get to call home.


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