I asked on Facebook and Instagram if anyone had any questions for me, and this one brought up a lot of thoughts and emotions:
How was the transition from the city to the countryside?
If you've been following along, you know I lived in NYC for 19 years, working in publishing and ultimately leaving my job as a director of web development at the top publisher to pursue a career as an artist in the Western Catskills region of New York. I will be honest, the decision was scary as sh*t but it also was one of the easiest and most freeing decisions I've ever had to make.
I grew up in a small town in Western Massachusetts and "country living" was in my blood. I was always motivated and determined and it was my goal to go to a four-year college, get a well-paying job, and be successful....because at that time, to be successful meant I had to have money and to make money, I had to live in a big city. As I mentioned, I'm determined and I did just that, I went to college, got a degree in something I never really used, but was able to get a job in NYC, rented my own apartment, and entered the hectic life of a New Yorker. I woke up, had coffee and a bagel, worked long days at two jobs, had a drink (or two), slept too little, and started the cycle over the next day. This is what city living was and everything I was doing is what I should be doing if I wanted to be successful. That continued for 19 years....I just earned more money, bought more expensive things, and drank more as the years went on.
Then I decided I needed a break from city living, and since I had some money saved, bought a weekend house in the country. An apartment in the city and a home in the country...one more item checked off the success list. Within months, if not weeks of having my house, the veil over my eyes was lifted and it was absolutely clear how much living in NYC was killing me. I was doing everything I thought I should be doing....but ultimately not anything I wanted to be doing. Sure I was good at my job, but I didn't enjoy it. It also made me realize I was drinking to forget about the day. When I was at the house on the weekend, working in the yard or enjoying the quiet, it brought back memories of growing up in a similar area, and I was just calmer.
When things at my job started to change, and I had it with the annual rent hikes, I knew I would be much happier living away from NYC. I'm not going to say living in the Catskills is a simpler life. I'm also not going to say I'm "living the dream." What I will say is I work every day, make a fraction of what I earned in the city, am exhausted, but never been happier. Every day is a hustle to make ends meet and while I hope I earn enough every month to cover my expenses, I don't worry about money the way I did back then, I have confidence things will work out. I'm determined... as I mentioned a couple times already.
So the transition for me was easy. It felt like I could finally breathe and was no longer held under water struggling because that's what I thought I should be doing. And it's not just because the air quality is so much better up here, which it is by the way. I'm also not dissing NYC or anyone who loves and thrives in the city. It took me time to realize I was "shoulding" all over myself and trying to be someone I was not, like trying to insert a square peg into a round hole. It wasn't a good fit and I'm glad I eventually figured it out.