Everything is about to change

Leaping into...well, who knows.

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Disclaimer: I’ve decided to move out of NYC to commit to full-time digital nomad life. This newsletter explains why. It’s deeply personal and has little to do with freelancing or writing. If that’s not your vibe, you’re more than welcome to skip and wait for next week’s edition. 💌

In March of 2019, I went on a six-month solo backpacking trip across Southeast Asia. I was 23, had saved up $15,000 through bartending and was fresh out of college. In other words: I was mind-bendingly free. 

When I returned to NYC to my parents house in August 2019, all I could think was, “How can I go back?” The plan: Save up money, freshen up my résumé through an internship, and then go. I’d be in NYC for six months, tops. 

Life had other plans. 

While juggling three jobs I fell in love with a childhood friend. This romance transformed the city: It became vibrant, alive, sparkling, and the pull to stay intensified. Then, in March, COVID slammed into NYC and any hopes of travel vanished anyway. 

But the idea never left my mind. That summer, I discovered Medium and the world of online writing. “Becoming a freelance writer could be my ticket,” I thought. So I stayed, living at home, saving money while getting the business off the ground.

Slowly, tentatively, the world opened up. I asked my partner if he’d want to work remotely and travel together. He hesitated. It’s not that he didn’t want to see the world — but his job was here. His childhood friends were here. His family was here. NYC was home. 

The second year rolled around. I could travel again but only did so in short stints. Costa Rica for three weeks, Colombia for two months. I never left for too long, always returning home for us.

“Maybe I could commit to New York,” I negotiated with myself. The city had my heart. He did too. But when I imagined myself moving out of my parents house and spending thousands of dollars on an apartment, every atom in my being recoiled.

Honestly, NYC is the type of place where the rent (as of this writing, the average price is $3,648 a month) is only justifiable if you really want to be there. If you’re willing to fight tooth and nail for your dream. I wasn’t.

Two years morphed into four. 

Fast forward to September ‘23: I’d just turned 27 and still lived at home. Sure, I was traveling 4–5 months out of the year. But I was itching — desperate — for a change.

In November of 2023, I went to Costa Rica with one of my best friends, Tara. She’d just moved out of LA and was traveling the world while working. I felt both jealous and inspired. That night, it hit me:

“I don’t want to live vicariously through her or anyone. I want to live through me.”   

Upon returning to New York, my partner and I had a brutally honest conversation. We were a perfect match, except for one, cataclysmic, ignorable thing: My love for spontaneity versus his need for routine.  

We’d reached a crossroad. He wanted to stay in NYC. I wanted to leave, and I mean really leave — no returning after a month or two. This was it. 

To say goodbye is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. This newsletter (or any piece of writing, really) can’t capture the oceans of love we hold for each other.

These days, I’m carrying a bottle of Afrin 24/7 in case I start crying. Unfortunately for me I didn’t have it at my last yoga class, when I started bawling during shavasana like a weenie.

On Thursday, I had dinner with a friend. Over mezcal margaritas and fries, I confided: “I can’t let go.”

“I know. But you doing this means you’re serious about your life. You’re serious about your goals. That’s a gift to both him and you,” she replied. 

It’s true — I could stay in the city. I could move out and get an apartment. I’d be happy. We’d be in love! Together! Everything would be good. Great, even. 

But doing that wouldn’t lead to the transformation beckoning me to come forward. It would be disingenuous to my dreams, and to him, who deserves a partner who can stay put.

Elizabeth Gilbert phrased this tug best:

“We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins…The real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” 

This February, I’m getting get on a one-way plane bound to Bali. I leave behind a city that was my home but not my future. A relationship that means everything but wasn’t my path (at least, not right now).

It hurts – and man, does it hurt – but Gilbert has a point: How can we transform if we aren’t willing to let go of everything we’ve ever known?

Sunset in Brooklyn

✍️ Quick Writing Tip

Avoid adjectives when describing someone. Instead, opt for a short story or list their idiosyncrasies. 

Christopher is a hippie. 

✔️ Christopher ditches parties early so he can get up to meditate at dawn. He’s a staunch vegetarian and (unsurprisingly) believes whole-heartedly in manifestation. “I manifested this,” he tells me, unclipping his Tiger’s Eye gemstone bracelet. “It wards off evil spirits.” 

This is a great way to practice “Show, don’t tell” in your writing. ✨

🥒 Content Diet

💪 The 50/30/10/10 Rule for How to Wake Up Earlier and Work on Your Dream by Jason GutierrezI am not the type of person to get up at 5:30 AM (if that’s you, congratulations). But Jason’s article was motivating and this morning I got up at 6:15 AM!

Fun Fact: This article took Jason about 30 minutes to write, yet was one of his most successful articles of all time and made him $12,000 on Medium. 

📝 How to Make 2024 the Best Year of Your Life by Ali AbdaalDuring the time in between Christmas and New Year’s, I spent 4-5 hours journaling on Ali’s prompts to get more clarity on what I wanted for 2024. All I can say is…wow.

There is a huge difference between journaling about your day (a catharsis) versus journaling to a prompt (an exploration). These prompts led to epiphany after epiphany. Try them out for yourself, you’ll get something out of it – promise.

👼🏼 Fundamental (But Not Obvious) Soft Skills by Benyamin Elias — The difference between a freelancer that’s paid $15 an hour versus $500? It’s not just skillset – it’s also knowing how to conduct yourself professionally. Benyamin lists the need-to-know soft skills every freelancer should have.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a beautiful week, wherever you are.

Stay Creative,

Alice 💌

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