Taking Flight from the Nest at Twenty-Two

By Sharon Hillman

Brooklyn Bridge at NightEver since my junior year of college I knew that I wanted to wind up in New York City. There’s something so infatuating about living in such an electrifying, bustling hub of culture and opportunities. No wonder it’s considered the quintessential “American Dream.” I knew that getting there would not be a simple task; however, I was incredibly determined to make it happen.

While I may not have had the clearest sense of what sort of career I wanted to pursue (a college senior’s worst nightmare — or possible blessing?) I had a fairly defined sense of what I was skilled at as well as the sort of environment I could see myself in. The largest obstacle for me was developing the patience to save up enough funds to be able to afford living life in the Big Apple. I was extremely aware of the high cost of living; thus I knew it was crucial to accrue enough savings.

The year between graduation and eventually moving out of my parents’ home was a rough one; returning to the suburbs felt incredibly alienating. I was forced to adjust to the fact that I could no longer call up my friends and easily meet up for lunch or a hangout at one of our houses. Additionally, my hometown’s community did not uphold the same political and ethical values that I have developed over the course of my four years at a highly progressive and liberal university. Lastly, I had landed a full-time position as an assistant manager with a retail store at the mall. I was faced with a combination of elements that were neither fulfilling nor mentally stimulating. However, at the bottom of it all, I saw it as a game — with the ultimate end goal being the move to New York.

Around late February or so, I began my hunt for a job within Manhattan which required numerous trips between my hometown in Connecticut and the city. Indeed, it was exhausting; however, I was able to go on several interviews and create myriad professional connections through various networking events. Building my self-confidence within a professional setting— fine-tuning my interviewing and communication skills — was another benefit I reaped in the process. In fact, I had even received an offer (which I later decided to turn down for personal reasons). Nevertheless, my immense effort had paid off and I proved to myself that I had what it took to land a career-oriented job.

I made a carefully calculated decision to find a summer sublet and make the move despite not having yet accepted a job offer. In theory, this is a very risky decision; yet I had done my part by responsibly working at home and accumulating a financial safety net for myself. It would also allow me to search locally which is an enormous advantage from a job seeker’s perspective. What did I have to lose?

My initial goal had been to move out one year after graduation — a feat I was able to successfully accomplish. Now I am happily living in Brooklyn with access to endless amenities and restaurants as well as my closest friends. While I have only been here for a little over two weeks thus far, my overall wellbeing has skyrocketed tremendously. I enjoy regaining complete control over my life and not feeling dependent on anyone else. Of course, I appreciate everything that my parents have done for me; however, at twenty-two years old I feel ready to tackle my own responsibilities.

The main takeaway I can provide to you, as a reader, is that regardless of whatever obstacles may be thrown at you— ultimately, you have the power to steer your life in the direction that caters to your needs. Postgraduate life is incredibly fluid and there genuinely is no “right” or “wrong” path to take. While living in a major metropolis may not be everyone’s eventual goal, this principle can be applied within nearly any young twenty-somethings’ life. Becoming an independent adult is truly not as scary as everyone makes it out to be as long as you are conscientious and motivated.

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