While some kids grow up with the city skyline in their backyard and used the streets as their playground, others live vicariously through what they see on television and read about in novels.
I was once a young girl growing up in the culturally starved Midwest, thumbing through fashion magazines and dreaming of the day I would escape Michigan and never look back. The most culture I had ever experienced was a 5th grade trip to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, vacationing at the timeshare in Acapulco and eating at the local mediocre Chinese restaurant. Let’s just say that I grew up a bit naive to the world around me. Fortunately, I was gifted with open eyes and an open mind. I was always a bit of the black sheep of my family and was always looking for more, trying to learn about people I didn’t know anything about and dreaming of the days of living in a far-off land… like Manhattan.
When I was 23 I finally moved to the city after one post-college year in the suburbs. Not only was it a concrete hell of freeways and subdivisions, it aged me quickly and I felt like every morning was Groundhog Day. Looking back I can’t believe I spent my evenings watching “According to Jim” with my then-boyfriend and downing bottles of Two Buck Chuck just to get through the night. I was 23 going on 45. Instead of New York as I had originally dreamed, I ended up moving to San Francisco back in 2008.
So, I prepared to move with a few hundred dollars in the bank, interviews lined up, a Craigslist apartment secured and extensive Myspace screenings of my new roommates. I was good to go.
Naive Thought #1: I’ll work all the time and never be home.
Just because I landed a job in the city doesn’t mean my career will magically take off. As an even younger adult I honestly believed that I would move to a city to become an amazing career woman. Turns out, once 5:00PM hit I was ready to head home and sit on my couch and watch the DVR. I went into work as late as I could get away with and left as soon as it was socially acceptable. I hated sales, and my pattern of working unfit jobs began. It took me a few years to find something that fit both my personality and lifestyle.
Naive Thought #2: I’ll drive my car.
My dad was awesome and shipped my car to San Francisco from Michigan. I was living in the city for about a week when it finally arrived. Enter, street parking, Smog checks, a $1,000 catalytic converter replacement and taking MUNI everywhere. I DID NOT need my vehicle. Granted, it was fun exploring on weekends, driving up to Marin and learning about the city on my own terms, but all in all, my poor 2000 Jetta just sat on my street and incurred $60 parking tickets left and right.
Naive Thought #3: People will care about my whereabouts.
“Hey, I’m running to Walgreens!” “I’m going out for dinner!” “Have a good day at work!” I’m certain it’s the Midwest in me, but this was a harsh reality when I would check-in with my roommates and let them know what I was doing and where I was going. I was given a questionable look and a leery, “Oh… okay” time and time again. Newsflash, Kristin: Everyone lives their own life in the city. People aren’t all up in each other’s business.
Naive Thought #4: Credit cards are easy to pay off.
I landed my first post-college apartment in the city, so I needed to decorate it to fit my personality. A few trips to Target and a couple hundred dollars later, my credit card began to get some exercise. I also decided I needed a new camera so I could share photos of my adventures with my friends, a new laptop so I could communicate with the world, a printer for who knows what reason and of course, a whole new wardrobe.
I am still paying off these things five years later. Just because you get one good job doesn’t mean you’ll keep it. You may receive hefty commission checks, but it doesn’t mean they’re easy to come by. Wow, was I naive! If I would have known better, I would have selected my jobs more carefully, paid for things in cash, eaten Ramen instead of the lavish meals with friends and saved for a rainy day.
It’s not that easy when you’re Young, Broke and Beautiful though, now is it?