The reason why I came to Europe in the first place is due, in most part, to the unsurmountable amount of pain that had been pressing heavy on my chest for over a year now.
I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression for pretty much my entire adult life, but I’ve always been able to mask it. I’ve always been able pretend like my life is this unbelievable fairytale, twisting my pain into humor so that it didn’t seem so heavy, not to anyone, especially not to me.
However, 2016 pushed my anxieties forward in a way that didn’t allow me to ignore it anymore. I wasn’t laughing like I used to, instead I was drinking violently and struggling to get out of bed.
In May of 2015, I graduated college, left a relationship that hadn’t been making me happy for months, and got let go from my job at an incredible publishing company due to a merger and lack of funds. The apartment that had been my solace for two years, a studio snuggled on the far end of the Upper East Side, was being taken over by new management and converting into a luxury condo. This was all just one month after graduation.
I kept my head high, though, looking on the bright side that maybe this was my new adventure. However, 2016 wasn’t as kind as I had hoped. I lived in a less than ideal apartment while working numerous less than ideal jobs and diving into less than ideal relationships with less than ideal men.
It took me a while to admit it to myself, but I was miserable. I was miserable. I was broke. I was tired. The city that had always saved me from drowning was now the thing pushing my head under water.
I’m not trying to ask for sympathy or scream “oh, woe is me,“ and I don’t want to make it seem like I hated my life. In fact, most of the time I loved it because I have incredible friends in New York who always seem to make things lighter when they’re dark.
This year was filled with good things, too, but after my close friend Nick died at the end of June, I knew I needed to make a change in my life before I lost myself completely.
I’ve always dreamed of moving to Europe, attempting to rationalize it in my head for years but I was never brave enough to do it. Until now.
When I got back from the funeral, my boss said she needed to speak with me. I had been working hard but I’m not going to lie to you and say that my heart was really in it. There were many days at the office where I felt numb, where the thought of scheduling tweets made my stomach churn. And by the end of that day, I had lost my job. Again. Because of yet another change in yet another company where I just didn’t fit. That was the last straw.
That night, my tickets to Europe were booked. When it was time to leave for the airport, I packed only a single suitcase, tricking myself into thinking that I would be back. Though, to be completely honest, I sort of always knew I wasn’t coming back.
I’ve spoken about how travel is a sort of escape for me, and I think I really hoped that this trip would heal me like the trips before had tried to do. I hoped to return to New York with a fresh outlook on the world. But, life isn’t a fairytale and that didn’t happen.
For the first time in my life, I left New York City and didn’t miss it at all. I kept extending my trip, telling myself that I just needed one more week. One day, as I was in Sicily, suffering from severe anxiety about returning home, I realized it wasn’t just one more week I needed. What I needed was a new chance on life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you don’t, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” In a possibly haunted Airbnb in the center of Palermo, I found my courage and decided right then and there that I was going to move.
I am aware that I am showcasing a great amount of privilege for being able to completely pick up my life and move it across the world. I know how lucky I am to have a father who not only lives in Europe, but after much consideration, is allowing me to live here, too.
Despite my hardships, I have been lucky to have a family and friends who support me – and on top of it all, I’ve also met a man.
I’d like to put a disclaimer here that I did not move across the world for said man. For some reason, that has been a topic of discussion among people who know me, and I’m almost a little disappointed that people would really think that I’m the kind of girl to pick up her life and change it forever solely for a man’s affection. That’s not me. But I did meet a man, and after years of boys who have treated me like nothing but an afterthought, I actually found someone who treats me the way I’ve always deserved to be treated.
But to all of you who keep asking, I did not move here for him. I moved here for me.
Right this second, I’m sitting in my pajamas overlooking Lake Zurich from my window, as the fog moves among the falling leaves. I live in Switzerland and this is the happiest I have ever been in my life.
My anxiety and depression have not completely disappeared, and I did not move here thinking that I could escape them. That, of course, would be ridiculous. However, I feel healthier, my hair is thicker, my skin clearer. I’m buying a new pair of running shoes. My heart feels lighter and I’m writing again. I’m really, really writing again. Most importantly, I have already seen more of the world than I could have ever dreamed of doing in New York. There are going to be hardships, as there always are, but I’m ready to face them for once.
Moving to an entirely new country is difficult and assimilating to the culture while learning a new language isn’t easy. There are going to be quite a few mishaps along the way, and I’ll write about those, too. I no longer want to sugarcoat my life and trick those reading into thinking it’s a fairytale. It’s not, but I’m happy. After what feels like centuries, I can confidently declare to the world that I’m happy. Really, unfuckingbelievably happy. And it’s about damn time.
For those of you who feel as if your life isn’t giving you what you deserve, don’t be afraid to change it. Courage isn’t at the bottom of a bottle or waiting for you on a street corner across the world.
We all have a little dose of courage inside us. Mine has been with me all along and I just never took the time to recognize it.
And with that little dose of courage, I can finally start my life once and for all.