Last year, I found myself crying over missing out on the cherry blossoms at the Botanic Garden. By the time I found the opportunity to go, they weren't blooming anymore. It seemed silly, but it wasn't about the flowers — it was my whole relationship with New York City.
I had never been to New York until I moved here for college. Everything was so fresh and new and dazzling. I wanted to experience everything I couldn't in my home country: world-famous attractions like the Met, smaller wonders like 24-hour dollar pizza, and absolutely everything in between. The idea of nonstop entertainment was dizzying — at any moment, I could be doing something new, something exciting, something life-changing.
Which meant that every moment I didn’t do something life-changing felt like a waste.
I started stressing out at my own downtime, whether or not I needed it. Taking a nap in between classes, scrolling through social media before bed, watching Netflix on weekends — all I could think was I could be doing something greater. When friends and family would visit, they’d make comments like, “It must be amazing to just be able to go to Central Park every day.” I’d feel so guilty for not taking advantage of that.
Today, I haven’t been to Central Park in probably two years, and I’ve accepted that that’s okay. I can’t live my life in New York as if I’m a tourist all the time. I have a full-time job to do, an apartment to clean, errands to run, just like anyone living anywhere else. I thought I was taking New York for granted by not running around checking off items on a bucket list — but really, I’m showing my love to this city every day by sticking around and building a life in it.
I still feel anxious sometimes, late on Sunday nights when I’ve spent most of the weekend at home. But I try to put that energy into something positive — instead of beating myself up over it, I plan something new for the next week. The cherry blossoms will be here next year, and so will I.