Leaving My Box

After years and years of putting it off, I’m finally doing it. I’m leaving my box.

I’m 21 years old — legal to drink (sparingly), smoke (never), and gamble (I bet it all on red). But I’ll never have been on a trip alone. That is, until May 15, 2016. And I couldn’t be more excited. And scared.

Empire State of Mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that it’s going to be an amazing experience. I’m going to New York, the “City that Never Sleeps”, where I haven’t been since I was 5. Pre-9/11, pre-digital age. A lot has changed — not that I would’ve remembered them anyway. I remember my finger getting stuck in an apartment door, that was fun! But it’s this crazy feeling of uncertainty. My friend offered to let me stay at his place, but he’ll be working the entire time. So I guess it’s just me, going to wander around the city. I don’t even know where to begin.

I’ve grown up around Charlotte, North Carolina my entire life. And moving to Chapel Hill for college has been a welcoming experience too, but it’s nothing compared to the 8,000-pound gorilla of NYC. I’ve been thinking about this for years, honestly — a trip to New York. I’ve been itching to get out of this box and expand my horizons. As much as I love Charlotte, it’s for my benefit to let go. It was a great environment to grow up in, but not to grow out in. And given that many of the top advertising agencies in the world have New York offices, it could potentially be where I end up after I graduate in a little over a year. I might as well expose myself to the elements now. It’ll be good for me.

My dad has a friend who lives in San Francisco — another target destination for me post-undergrad. He moved there six years ago with his wife from Charlotte. Despite having three of his closest friends in a city that he lived in for over 20 years, he decided to be closer to family members, who live in Oakland. I’ll never know why he left, but I remember my dad was pretty bummed out. My mom was good friends with his wife too, so it’s like they lost a part of themselves. But I completely understand — I always felt like he moved because he felt stagnant, and needed a change of pace in his life. I don’t know how my parents go about doing the same routine every weekend. It would drive me crazy.

Anyways, I got to speak to my dad’s friend for a few moments over Spring Break, and the first thing he told me was “Come visit me in San Francisco!” I told him that it might not be possible, depending on if I’ll be working at an internship or not. He wasn’t having it — he still urged me to try my best to make it out there. I hadn’t seen this guy for six years, and somehow, he knew that I was an advertising major, and that I was looking into creative. My dad must’ve told him at some point, because then he said:

“Travel is really the only way you can get exposure to the rest of the world. And you’re going to need that exposure if you ever want to be creative.”

… I actually teared up a bit when he said that. He was right. I’d seen this old guy so frequently throughout the first 14 years of my life. He’d come over and watch football with us, he’d helped out my parents a bit at the restaurant, and I always considered him an afterthought. And here he is, giving me the sagest piece of wisdom after I hadn’t spoken to him in six years. It’s interesting how life works.

So, yeah. I’d love to go to San Francisco too. And eventually make my way out of the country, just so I can get more exposure. It’s been a recurring theme in my classes that we as students need to travel. Hell, if I could convince my parents to let me go overseas on my own, that would benefit me tons. One of my professors even published a blog post on it. I just want to be more well-rounded. I should’ve studied abroad.

Overall, I don’t know what’s going to happen while I’m in New York. I just hope that I can grow as much as I can in the short week that I’ll be up there. Meeting up with a few old friends wouldn’t be such a bad idea, either.

P.S. I would love to get any advice to better prepare for this New York trip. Thanks a ton, in advance!