Photo: Alice Plati
There’s a good chance you’ve read the trending articles “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”, “The ‘Busy’ Trap”, and “All the Single Ladies” and agreed with the sentiments, reflected on your own situation, and then continued with your routine. As a young professional in New York City addicted to the fast paced, feeling “on top of the world” lifestyle that we young ladies lead, I would have done the same. However, I’m hoping that the decisions I have made in the past few years have put me on a different track.
I moved to New York in 2006 after graduating college – a starry-eyed Southern girl ready to live the Sex and the City dream. The economy was booming, money was flowing, and I felt like a New Yorker after just a few months on the ground. Things quickly changed with the recession – the winters seemed colder and the mood in the bars (can’t afford clubs anymore) became darker as the conversation turned to discussing everyone’s Plan B. After a few short years, I was anxious for a change in my life but couldn’t figure out if that change was a new apartment, new job, or new city. After many conversations with friends, family, mentors and just about anyone who would listen to me talk – I realized it was all of the above. I was ready to leave the city and change careers, so I headed to graduate school to start anew.
If you thought things couldn’t get busier than life in NYC, try graduate school. Graduate school, for me, was an amazing two years of drinking from the fire hose (and the beer tap). I considered just about every career track, travelled the world and met inspiring people in and out of class. With half of my classmates headed to NYC and a great group of friends still in the city that I had left behind, it was hard not to consider returning myself. However, I constantly reminded myself of the reasons I had left.
One – Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. Like the article says, having both a family and career is tough. Although I am still single, I looked at New York and realized I didn’t want to raise kids in the city, and I didn’t want to commute an hour each way into the city from the suburbs. The longer I stayed in NYC, the harder it would be to start a career in another city.
Two – The Busy Trap. In NYC, busy means working hard and playing hard. New Yorkers are infamous for the conversation starter, “So, what do you do?” If you’re not completely dedicated to your career, working 60-100 hour weeks, you risk being seen as lazy or lacking ambition. Now, I want a successful career, but I also want to work to live rather than live to work. I noticed that it was taking a week or two to schedule seeing my best friends and our main conversation topics were work and dating (often complaining about the two).
Three – All the Single Ladies. Oh, NYC dating! It’s shocking when that guy you met at 2am doesn’t become the perfect ,doting boyfriend, right? If you’re looking to flirt with some guys for the night, there is no better place to be than NYC. But if you want to find a boyfriend or husband, you might as well hang out at the airport and wait for the out-of-towners or new arrivals. Guys in New York have little incentive to commit because they can meet ten attractive, smart, new girls every night…and one of them will go home with them. It doesn’t help that for many people, life outside of work revolves around drinking and partying. Now don’t get me wrong, those birthday parties that raged until 4am, bottomless mimosa brunches, and charity cocktail receptions helped make my New York years some of the most fun I’ve ever had. But I started to realize that to find the right kind of guy for me, I needed to show off more than just my fun side.
Over time, I watched some women I knew lower their standards, turn bitter, or become so independent they didn’t seem to need anyone. I realized that finding a life partner is probably the most important thing that will happen to me in the next few years of my life, and I needed to put myself in the best possible setting to do so.
All of this has led me to my new home: Seattle! My new job is full of ambitious people who work really hard… until 7pm. It is an urban lifestyle (I will be walking to work!) with the conveniences of a smaller city (I’ll also have a car!). There is a great restaurant and bar scene, but also an active population that frequents the mountains and parks. And my apartment is big enough to host a dinner party!
I am excited to check out the left coast. Sure, it’s a bit granola, but how bad could recycling more, eating organic, and spending more time in the woods be? Recent articles are hyping Seattle as the place to be! For some of the friends I’m leaving, I know it’s hard to believe that life exists outside of NYC (ok, DC gets a little cred too), but I’m certainly hoping that the decisions I’ve made will lead me to the life I’m looking for. That means one day hopefully having it all (family, husband, and career) and being a calmer, healthier busy. I’ll let you know how it goes.