When I moved home from college embarking on an unpaid internship in NYC my role models (a term I am using here very loosely) consisted of an overly-prude, tuna-fish spokesperson and a teen who turned down Paris for Jason-fucking-Wahler. All dramatic challenges in your young-adult-life are supposed to be wrapped up with a perfectly-flowing single mascara tear, right?
Then poof and here I am 6 years later. I still don’t have that Jessica Simpson life – an ex-boyband husband (looking at you Harry Styles), a Louis Vuitton purse, a reality show, or a fashion empire. And while I am pretty unsure how this whole “adulthood” thing is supposed to work I would say I’m starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel. I sit here in my cozy 5th floor walk up in the East Village packing for a business trip to Paris next week (you can’t always live by the motto W-W-LC-D) and I’m reflecting on how I got here.
The struggle was real. The struggle is real. So for all you twenty-something “adults” out there here are my tips to help you make it and live it in NYC (or like wherever the fuck you want to be).
1. HAVE A PLAN. Today may not be the today you thought it would be. That’s fine. I don’t know anyone who is where they thought they would be. But I do know people who are getting there. It took me 3 years to move to New York City. I may have gotten here slow and steady but I got here because I saw it, I knew it and I planned it. Doing it is not hard… getting there is.
2. MAKE A BUDGET. I know this is a pretty standard tip but I SWEAR it changes everything. I have never budgeted in my life and lived pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck. Eventually shit adds up and you are 27 years old eating frozen peas for dinner until you get your next paycheck and make a strategic decision you will be paying your rent late. Then I put my excel work to good use and made a real-life budget. Now I am actually paying off my credit card (note: if you do not have one, don’t get one… it’s all fun and games until it’s maxed out) and having extra cash to go on weekend trips or buy more ankle boots.
3. BUILD A NETWORK. It is true what they say – it is all about who you know. When you know where you want to be in a year, five years, ten years, whenever – it is important to know the people who are already there. You would be shocked at how many people are willing to meet with you just to share their story and their tips. Building a network and more importantly, mentors, are crucial as you move up in the workforce.
4. KNOW YOUR VALUE. One person gave me this little piece of advice and it was the most important thing I ever discovered. You should not be working at a place that does not hit what your market value is unless they have some serious perks that include unlimited Jimmy Choos and a lenient expense policy. Know it, believe it and use it.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION. As a Pisces I have insane intuition and it is more often than not (aka always) true. When I interviewed at my current job it was a girl working out of her living room. “Startup” was not a term I had ever heard before. We met for coffee at Balthazaar and I really only took the meeting because she was so highly recommended from several people in my industry (again, network). I was so unsure as to what I was getting myself into but my gut was screaming that this would be THE job. It was.
6. INVEST IN JEANS. BDGs no more. Finding the right brand (I personally recommend Madewell and Joes) for you is a game-changer. Take it one step further and get them tailored to your preferred ankle length. I live and breathe in jeans and feel uber confident when they so perfectly-fit.
7. DON’T LET TINDER BECOME YOUR ONE-AND-ONLY. Or Bumble, or Happn, or OKcupid. Real life still exists.
8. ALWAYS LEAVE. Whether you know that one more tequila OJ will put you way past the point of embarrassing or you are on an online date with a 5’5 who works the nightshift at Duane Reade, it is always best to leave. When you wake up the next day, your head will feel better and your wallet will be fuller.
9. ORGANIZE YOUR CLOSETS AND THROW OUT YOUR SHIT. Probably the absolute HARDEST thing about living in New York City is the lack of closet space. For a girl who can’t seem to get rid of her graphic Hollister tees from ’04 trust me… our shit has to go. Having a closet that should be photographed for the Coveteur is pretty much all the confidence you need to go through life. And fun fact: There are a shit-ton of consignment shops that will buy your BCBG rompers and Urban Outfitters-of-the-moment jeans. Extra cash to buy 15 more just-slightly-different oversized, chunky sweaters… perf.
10. BUY PAJAMA SETS. Fuck the vacay-tees. Welcome to adulthood.