Starting a new chapter in your life can be challenging. Starting a new chapter in New York can be really challenging. People don’t just randomly end up in New York－most of us who moved here have been dreaming and working for it as long as we can remember. There is something about starting over in a new place that really can’t be compared to any other feeling. We have this beautiful image of how everything is going to be and when it’s not what we expected, we just don’t know how to cope. I moved to New York because it has always resonated with me and I had always wanted to move to a place where literally no one knew me. I worked so hard and long for this. I took shitty part-time jobs and I was miserable. I did everything I had to do, overcame every challenge, and now I’m here. I have always wanted to be here and now I am. Everything should be great. Everything should be perfect…but it’s not. As much as I love my new home, I just feel like I’m missing out on everything. People mention homesickness and adjustment when talking about starting over, but I never knew how hard it would be. Not even to mention the FOMO and the exhausting process of making new friends. Starting a new chapter in your life is hard, but here’s how I’m dealing with it:
Moving from Norway to New York has always been a goal of mine. It’s everything I’ve been talking about for the last six years and as much as the city lives up to its expectations, not everything is exactly how I expected it to be. I mean, when is it ever? Let’s be real: moving across the globe to a place where you really don’t know a soul? It’s terrifying. Making new friends is terrifying. I’m an introvert－I love having friends, but the actual process of getting to know someone is excruciating to me. I never know what to say or when to say it, but I still try though. I’ve joined student organizations and I try to go to events. And I try to be me. As long as I’m me, I’m happy.
And speaking of friends, I can’t seem to stop thinking of mine. What are they doing? Why does it feel like I’m the only one calling them? Why do they seem so happy without me? Why aren’t they checking up on me when they know that I’m lonely? And I somehow always end up with the conclusion that they’ve realized that they’re better off without me. FOMO is also a huge challenge when starting over. Who would have known that I would be thinking about what goes on back in little Norway when there is so much for me to do here. And homesickness? Oh yes. I miss my mom and sister like crazy. The amount of things I’ve missed out on because I moved to NY is insane: my best friend and neighbor for the last 20 years is moving (possibly out of town), my other friend got married, my cousin is having a baby and someone dear to my heart passed away. And because there is no one for me to lean on, I find myself zooming in on people’s locations on Snapmap to see what they’re up to back home. I just want to know what the hell they’re up to that leaves no time for me. Creepy and stalker-ish? I know.
I came here with my best friend who was so kind to help me settle in and get used to the city. When she left though, New York became a completely different place. And whenever I Face Timed with my friends or my family, I would talk about how “happy” I was and how much I “loved” it. But for a long while I went to bed feeling like crap, like something was wrong. I couldn’t quite point it out, because what the heck would I be complaining about? I’m here. Everything should be great. After a few weeks though, I realized what was wrong: everything shouldn’t and wouldn’t be great all the time. Before I could start moving on I had to admit to myself that as happy as I am to be here, I am allowed to feel upset. The only way for me to truly feel happiness was to allow myself to feel bad sometimes. And with that I felt okay.
I also try to be productive. Try to plan ahead, but take one day at a time. Every single day is a new chance for me to do what I didn’t get to do the day before. I often find myself thinking too much about yesterday, when I should be thinking about what I can do to make myself feel fulfilled today. The busier I am, the less I think about what I’m not doing. I try to make it feel like I’m not the only one missing out on things. As cheesy as it is to refer to this song, Alicia Keys said “You’re in New Yoooooooork! Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do!” It’s the city that never sleeps. So, when you’re done with everything you have to do for school, you should do something nice.
It’s honestly just about trying. Trying to stay positive. Trying to trust your friends. Every single day I try to give my friends the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure they think that I’m busy all the time too. And even though I’m not; I can be. There is so much more to do here, the options are endless. Start hanging out with the most underrated person in your life－ yourself. That’s the only way for you to learn how to be alone without feeling lonely.
You don’t even have to be an international student to relate; starting over is hard no matter where you came from. And if you do have a setback and start feeling bad again, remember that it’s okay. Just try again in the morning ;)