From Coast to Coast: A Coming of Age Story
I spent twenty-one years growing up in California. Two weeks after graduation, I picked up everything I owned and moved to New York City. I get asked the same question at least once a week, why would you move to New York if you’re from California? And I always say, Why wouldn’t you? The lifestyle and energy of this city is riveting and unique. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I decided long ago I wanted to move to New York when I came here for a week with my cousin, sister, and mom. I remember walking through the glistening streets in the winter, completely mesmerized by how beautiful it looked with the snow falling, and I thought to myself: one day I am going to live here.
Fast forward to present day. I’m sitting in my local coffee shop writing my story. I’m somewhat still in shock I have been living in this incredible city for nine months now. In my last semester of college I knew I was going to move to New York, though I have always struggled with the idea that certain things in my life have strayed far from the “plan.” And truthfully, I have always feared the unknown. Was this really the right choice?
Was moving thousands of miles away from my friends and family only two weeks after graduation the practical decision? I didn’t know at the time, but I knew I had the tools to succeed, and I would never know unless I tried.
I moved to my new place in Astoria, Queens in the middle of June. The only thing I had known about Astoria was that it was on the outskirts of Manhattan and had great Greek food. I remember the day I moved like it was yesterday. As I pulled up to my new apartment, the atmosphere around me felt familiar. I walked up the six flights of stairs to my brand new place and headed straight for the window in my new room.
As soon as I saw the skyline I knew I was home.
I told my brother I wanted to move here a few years back and he had asked to come along. He was a musician who was serving full time in LA most of his life and wanted, even needed, a change. I, of course, was excited that he would be here, making the transition feel a bit easier on my end. I’m grateful for the two months I had here on my own. And honestly, before he came, I felt like I was really doing it. I was living the life I had always wanted for myself, becoming the woman I had always wanted to be.
Back in California I had interned at Francis Ford Coppola Winery and loved every minute of it. I knew I wanted to work in the wine industry and that role gave me the confidence and the tools I needed to succeed here in New York. There is a Public Relations firm that represented Coppola, so I had this idea I would work for an agency that represented cutting edge brands and everything would be great. Well, they interviewed fifteen people, I made the top two, only to find they had chosen the other person. I was terribly discouraged. Firstly, because the entry level PR salary was not what I expected. And secondly because I really thought I had my foot in the door at this company. Lesson learned: it isn’t always about who you know.
Luckily, I had another offer on the line at a great PR agency. I loved it. It offered everything a hip New York City company should. Though shortly after, I dreaded going to work because I was overworked.
I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my happiness for a job that wasn’t satisfying the parts of my life I needed fulfilled.
I put my two weeks in with a fear and realization that I didn’t know what would come next. Like I said before, when things don’t go according to my plan, I panic. Though things weren’t going the way I had hoped in my career, I never once doubted my move or thought I should return home. I told myself there was nothing wrong with taking a few steps back. I was twenty one living in New York City, if I had to get two part time jobs, then so be it.
I was unemployed for about a week and a half and ended up landing a phone interview for an Account & Project Manager position at M. Shanken Communications. They own magazines like Wine Spectator, Whiskey Advocate, and Cigar Aficionado. I applied on a whim because I felt qualified for the job description. It was in the wine and spirits industry, but it wasn’t PR. I ended up having a phone interview on a Tuesday, went in to meet everyone the next day , and got the job two hours later. Talk about meant to be right? If I had any advice to give you I would say never give up, and never sell yourself short in the working world. You get what you put in. And if you go with your gut, things will work out the way they are supposed to. Always.
The holidays were approaching quickly and it was time I take my first trip home in six months. I was excited to see my family and enjoy California. This trip was very different and it had me reflecting on all the change in my life thus far. It wasn’t like I was visiting from college, things were distinctly different. While I was home my mom sat me down and broke the news of her breast cancer. My world was definitely shaken. How was I supposed to go back to New York? How was I to live my life while she was deciding if she wanted to get surgery or go through radiation? I almost felt guilty about it. Often times there are circumstances in our lives we can’t always see coming. This was just another hurdle in my journey I was going to get through, no matter how far I was. She ended up having the surgery and is going through chemotherapy. And yet all I kept thinking is how I needed to be closer to her. My mom’s strength is something I am really proud of her for.
Once I got back to New York I had a lot of things on my mind. It had me thinking I needed to be closer to my mom and that money was becoming more of an issue. It was like my world was shifting after only nine months of being here, and my carefully thought out plan was shifting with it. I felt lost and wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but deep down I knew I needed to follow my gut. We experience constant change within each of our own lives. And when I underwent what felt like a complete un-expectancy, it created a domino effect and put the next step in my journey in motion.
For those who may be battling the same type of obstacle: I can sit here and tell you go with your gut, and everything will fall into place. Although that may be true, who am I to tell you what’s best for you? You know yourself more than anyone. I believe it’s about placing courage in your decisions and having the confidence to make the change your life demands.
Believe that acceptance and perseverance are vital in tackling unforeseen events out of your control. Once you overcome that, what comes next - will be.
We experience change all the time. Innately we learn how to move alongside of it. If you are unsure about making a big move or a tough decision, the answer may be deep inside yourself. We usually know the way if we’re truly honest. Sometimes you are led to do things you may not necessarily want to do, but that is part of life coming full circle. While visiting friends in wine country at the beginning of March, I landed an interview at a digital marketing agency in Napa. They offered me the job five minutes after I left the office and I get to work with wineries, breweries and all things I am so passionate about. Proof that this chapter in my life has, in fact, come full circle.
I have learned more about myself in nine months then the four years I spent in college, and I have met incredible people here who have affected my life in more ways than one. My New York adventure might be ending now, but I can’t wait to see what the next one has in store. There is no moving backwards, only forwards. Follow your dreams and listen to YOU, things will happen the way they’re supposed to. I hope as you read my story, you can start writing yours.
Author: Kimberly Kirsch | @kimmykirsch
Cover Photo: Grace Rivera | @_gracerivera