Yep, the ‘fro is back! I definitely did miss the feeling of my hair being free after keeping it braided over the entire summer (worth not having to do it, though…), but back to the natural life I go—co-washing, deep conditioning, and bantu-knotting my life away.

These photos are from around my barrio (neighborhood in Español) in Brooklyn—where I can frequently be found walking around awkwardly while having my picture taken—but ahhh, gotta love the culture-driven surroundings. Isn’t this painting of Questlove so freakin’ realistic?!

We’re moving into fall and as much as I hate cold weather I’m actually so proud to be here (and of myself, in general) this time around. With the seasons changing, I realized this marks my 2nd anniversary since moving to New York and I’m about to brave my 3rd winter in the Big Apple. Honestly, all that comes to mind is how much my progress since moving is just a testament to what you can do and achieve when you’re persistent and keep your faith and trust in God!

Given the occasion, I’ve decided to discuss 4 major things I’ve learned since moving to the Concrete Jungle.

1. You have to be bold as hell to make it in this city. I cannot express how much “bolder” I’ve (naturally) gotten since being here. I speak up way more. I’m much less timid. I don’t care who sees me doing what, when—whether it be haulin’ ass to catch the train or changing my shoes on it. I realized that over time I progressively became more… confident, I guess. In my space, in myself. It’s either that or just a general feeling that I no longer care about people looking at me, or what anyone thinks as much as I did in the past. And honestly, I thank New York for that. I still have a waysss to go, don’t get me wrong… it’s an uphill battle for a personality type like myself, but being here has definitely helped, or more like forced, me to step out of my box in ways I maybe didn’t have to before.

The other thing about that is… nobody sees, hears, or pays attention to you if you don’t step up; if you’re not bold enough to try. There are a million + one other people going for that role, that position, that job, and a slew of them are smarter, better looking, and have more experience than you. You’ll forever be banished to the back of the bus (metaphorically) if you don’t make an attempt to show somebody that your ass is HERE.

2. Make a home out of a place where your body + spirit truly feels comfortable. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a long day of work or school to an uncomfortable atmosphere at home—really unsafe neighborhood, roommate problems, critter infestations, etc. If you’re not comfortable in your own space, change it. I’ve had so many friends who’ve endured stressful living situations, and it doesn’t make anything about living here (or anywhere, for that matter) better at all. It makes it progressively worse, actually, especially when you have nowhere you feel you can truly let a load off and simply relax, and feel like you’re at peace when doing it.

3. You will be “broke,” and you will miss out on sh*t… but you will be ooookay. Sometimes you just gotta take what you got and be happy with it. Money comes and it goes, that’s just the way it goes! If I was single, I’d say raking in a good 70k would be a comfortable spot for me… and keep in mind, I live in Brooklyn. Now everyone is different, of course, but ya girl’s got bills—and hella of ’em. That would cover all the monthly expenses I have and leave me room to live a life I could actually enjoy in NYC without having to necessarily actively “worry” about money.

Moving here is a sacrifice, period. If you’re a suburbian and from somewhere with a more cost-effective way of life, chances are you can live a helluva lot more comfortably there, as opposed to here, where rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is more than the mortgage on a house in most places. Stupid, to some (and admittedly, to an extent, I do agree). But to others, moving here isn’t just about a change of location, it’s about a yearning to explore new things, cultures, and experiences—quite literally shifting into a totally new lifestyle. So many people have told me that I adapted seamlessly to this change; that it almost seems as if I am from here. Though it wasn’t as easy for me as I may have made it seem, in retrospect, it kind of makes sense. I’ve wanted to move to NYC since I was like, IDK… 10 years old or something dumb like that (and my mom + family is from here, so I’ve always visited and had that influence in my life… and so is my boyfriend that I later met at age 18). I’ve almost been NYC-obsessed since adolescence. I don’t really know how it happened, that’s just the way it always was. I wanted to go to NYU for college, but my deeply-rooted need to go to an HBCU knocked that option out, so instead, I went for grad school. Living here is just something that I always wanted to experience, and guess what? It ain’t easy, but I’m doin’ it.

4. Find your tribe. Because it’s almost never about where you live, or what you do, but who’s there with you that makes the experience what it is! I struggle with this one. Admittedly, I’ve had so many ups & downs regarding friendships and it’s made me much more aware and cautious of the relationships I make and keep. Being in NYC with little-to-no friends around that are easily-accessible has been a new type of experience for me and it becomes difficult some times more than others. So I’m still workin’ on this one! But I know it to be true because it’s just a general fact of life, and things are always better when you’re around good vibes.

Can anyone who’s not a native New Yorker but lives here attest to any of these, too? If not, what are some things you guys have learned since moving here? Would love to hear in the comments below! xx

God is l o v e, love is real.
& this is where it all fits into, well… the Gray scheme of things.

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