A Midwesterner in New York City: 4 Lessons I Learned From Moving Markets

I'm not in Kansas anymore

I've lived in the Midwest my entire life. 

I was born in Iowa. At the age of 2, I moved to central Kansas, where I was raised on a ranch with cows and horses, the whole nine yards. When I turned 18, I ventured out a whopping 36 miles north to Manhattan, Kansas ("The Little Apple"), to attend Kansas State University. From there, I moved to Kansas City (which is half in Missouri and half in Kansas, so you can stand in two states at once), where I began my career at VML.

I love the Midwest. Like, a freaky amount. I'm not too proud to admit that I've been brought to tears by how beautiful it is driving through the Flint Hills in summer. But one day this past year, I woke up and decided it was time to move somewhere else, to get out of my comfort zone and experience life in a new city. And equally important, to pursue my career dreams. 

That's how I ended up in New York City. 

Of course, the fact that I could now say "From the Little Apple to the Big Apple: The Christina Miller Story" played a pretty significant part in my decision. I mean, that's a pretty fantastic autobiography title, right? 

As with any big life change, there comes a great opportunity to reflect and learn from the experience. Here are some lessons I've already learned upon making this move. 

Accept help from others

I'm a pretty independent person who likes to do things for herself and really doesn't like asking for help. But that's something I've had to get over quickly. Everyone needs a hand now and then, and asking for support or recommendations or if you're going the right way on the subway does not mean you're not smart or not capable. It means you're human. 

Acknowledge your emotions, but don't dwell on them

My first week living in New York, I was on an emotional roller coaster. Highs and lows, moments of "This is the best decision I've ever made" to moments of "Why in the world did I do this to myself?" There was an entire 24-hour period when I wallowed in my feelings of sadness and regret as I sat on my air mattress—the only piece of furniture that I had in my apartment at the time—and cried. I looked at pictures from home and listened to Sarah McLachlan. I can 100 percent say that was a poor decision. It's OK to feel sad, but allowing that to have all-encompassing control over you doesn't do any good. 

Hoof it and keep your eyes open along the way

Explore the city on foot, and consciously take it all in. See all the beauty, hear all the sounds, and try not to smell all the smells (only the pleasant ones, because wow, there are a lot of unpleasant smells in the city!). But I've found that walking places and consciously making an effort to be present and soak up my surroundings helps me remember and learn better than anything. Along the way, I try to look at even the simplest things with a new appreciation. If you frame your thinking to be more positive and open, you begin to see beauty in places where you may have never seen it before. That is important when you're learning to love a new city. 

Say yes to everything

I'm already way out of my comfort zone, so I choose to say yes to things that continue to push me outside of my normal way of life. That's how I ended up in Mexico with a complete stranger and am now happily married with a kid on the way. (Just kidding, Mom, I'm fine and this was a joke.) But really, I've had some of the most memorable days and nights by just being open to meeting new people and trying new things. 

New York has anything and everything I could ever imagine, and I can't help but feel like I've got the world at my fingertips living here. It may not always be easy, and there are days when I still get homesick, but I'm thrilled with how my career path has led me to the Big Apple and for all that will come from this career and life move. 

Stay tuned for more laughs and lessons down the road in the next installment of "From the Little Apple to the Big Apple: The Christina Miller Story."

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Christina Miller
Christina Miller is associate channel director of social strategy at VML.

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