It’s nearly midnight. I am sitting in my car, crying violently into my cell phone. There is a bodily fluid dripping out of every orifice in my face. My eyes are leaking, my nose is running, and my mouth just can’t hold water. I am not at all keeping it together.

I am parked directly in front of a 7 Eleven, frozen in the driver's seat. The fluorescent lighting from the storefront is blaring into my car, and I can barely make out the images posted to the glass walls through my tears. To anyone coming out of the convenience store, it looks like I’m having a meltdown. On this night, looks were not deceiving. I was definitely having a meltdown.

What originally started as a late night snack run had quickly become a tragic scene. At the time, I was only a few weeks away from graduating college, and I had nothing lined up. No job offers, no prospects, no plan. But it wasn’t just that. I was currently unemployed and running out of money. I had taken on extra classes to graduate within the semester, and the course load was kicking my ass. On top of that, because everything that was already on my plate wasn’t enough, I was also teetering with the idea of moving to an entirely new state.

See, I had always dreamed of living in New York City. I had family who were Brooklyn natives, and I would visit them as often as I could. Almost every year, I would travel for holidays or spend a few weeks with them in the spring or summer. I even secured an internship based in the city once, and got a chance to a sample a day of work in the glamour of Manhattan.

Every single time I had to return home, I felt as though I left a little piece of my heart behind. I was in love. The energy of New York City made me swoon. It was something about the constant hustle, the mystery of anonymity, and the promise of opportunity that appealed to me. It made me feel like I could be whoever I wanted. It invited me to explore the best version of myself. So, after my last stay, I made a promise to myself. “One day, I’ll live here. I belong here,” I said. Someday, somehow, I knew that I would embrace the risk, and take the plunge.

Except, moving wasn’t as glamorous as I had expected. There was no movie montage of my life-changing experience. I kept waiting for my “Sex in the City” moment. It never happened. In reality, it was rough – all parts of it. Before, during, and still a bit after.

So in that very moment, I cried. New York was my best option, and I was riddled with stress and self-doubt. I sat in my car crying to my best friend. I talked to her the way I talked to myself, praying that she could reassure me in a way I had failed to do for myself. So, I cried. And I pleaded. And I babbled through my tears. Am I really about to do this? Is it really the right choice? Can I even do this? Am I capable of building a life for myself? How will I know where to start? Am I strong enough, savvy enough, or smart enough?

Fast forward to today, and I’m here. I moved to New York. I did it – I’m doing it. Now that I’m here, I have a bit more perspective and there has been a significant decrease in traumatic breakdowns. (Granted, they still happen every now and again; I’m not perfect.) Here are three things I’ve learned from the experience that you may find helpful before taking the plunge:

Set Goals. Create A Timeline.

When I chose to take on the challenge of moving to a new city, I approached it with the idea that I would just figure everything out when I got there. I quickly learned that was a mistake. I knew why I was moving and what I wanted to accomplish, but I never really took the time out to consider the how.

Knowing the how and creating markers for getting things done is the difference between an intentional and aimless experience. You want to feel like you took this risk in pursuit of a greater reward. Are you moving for career opportunities? Are you looking to create your own community? What expectations do you have for your social life?

What you don’t want is for 6 months to pass, and you have nothing to show for it because trust me, you will be tested. You will see your friends and family back home on social media enjoying all of the things you used to do. You will feel homesick- like you’re missing out. Having goals and tracking them can be the determining factor on whether you choose to stay or go. It can be what encourages you to remain steadfast and push yourself to experience real growth.

Manage Your Expectations.

Expect things to be hard. Expect to feel lonely at times. Expect not to recognize yourself on some mornings, because you aren’t who you were before. Embrace the process. It is better to go into this experience mentally strong than to run towards it with your arms flailing about as you try to grab on and hold steady.

I romanticized this city. How can you not? With the depictions of New York in the media, it’s almost impossible not to. That, and my limited experiences here while traveling failed to expose the rough underbelly of the city. So, the adjustment period has been, well, just that – an adjustment.

Moving here has reminded me that the world owes me nothing and that everything I want is truly mine for the taking. Realizing that things may be tough will teach you to appreciate those small moments of grace when things are easy.

Have A Worst Case, “OH S**T, this was a mistake!” Escape Plan.

This is completely optional. For me, it just provides a sense of security. Knowing that I have other options somehow allows me to pursue my goals feeling a little less pressured and a little more confident. It’s the idea that I’m not on the brink of losing everything that helps push me out the door when I’m feeling vulnerable.

For some, that might look like stashing enough money in your mattress for a plane ticket home. For others, that may mean staying in touch with a friend or a loved one who is willing to take you in if need be, and who understands your long-term goals. You should never feel trapped or obligated. Moving to a new place is an adventure, after all! You should be enjoying the joys and the missteps, and always have the option to change your mind.

This post isn’t meant to scare you. It’s meant to keep you grounded. You should feel secure and equipped in your coming adventure. Before moving, the only thing I knew to be true was the stirring feeling of uneasiness in my gut.

Now, what I know for sure is that anyone can do this. I did it without a job, or any promise of one. I flew here on a $69 one-way ticket, and haven’t looked back since.

You can do it, and if you want it – you will. It only requires a little bit of faith and a willingness to take a chance on yourself.