It all seemed too familiar to be true. The smell inside the rat-infested Subway was as gross as ever. People walked past by me with no smile to spare. I navigated the streets and avenues like I had always been there, like I had never left. When a Chipotle craving came crawling, I knew where to find the nearest to my hotel. It was all too familiar and, yes, it was true. After a year away, I was in New York again.
Although it would only be a short stint of less than 72 hours, my New York weekend was packed with career-oriented activities and friendly dinners. I was set to reunite with my former roommate Flannery, who was accomplice to the two months I spent as a New Yorker in 2014. On Saturday, I would arrive at the Hearst Building in Midtown, not to admire it from a distance, but to enter its glorious facilities to attend the second annual Cosmo Fun Fearless Life Conference.
Editors were set to attend, but, most importantly, Laverne Cox would grace us with her anti-gender construction beauty to talk about racism, heteronormativity, gender inequality and fluidity. Yes, I, too, was surprised to find such a magnitude of topics within a Cosmo-hosted event.
But what truly shocked me about the entire thing was the fact that major magazine editors from Hearst publications walked seamlessly around us. It is often rumored that industry insiders don’t mingle with commoners, which, in this scenario (and every other, really!) it was me. But, as I was waiting for my former partner in crime to arrive, an editor approached me with the usual “Hi, what’s your name?”.
Throughout the entire day, we received goodie bags in the form of wisdom from the most inspiring, kick-ass women (and two men) out there. Andrea Pino (co-founder of End Rape on Campus), comedian Chelsea Handler, DKNY PR Girl Aliza Licht, entertainment journalist Alicia Quarles and dating columnist Matthew Hussey provided endless Pinterest-worthy quotes for hours. I didn’t think I could feel more on top of the world given we were on the 44th floor overlooking Central Park, but I was wrong.
This year has been fucking rough. I traveled and lived in Europe for six months while enduring a series of self-discoveries and experiences that pushed me face to face with hard-hitting questions that changed the course of my life forever (dramatic but true). The love department entered an all-time low when I broke up with my boyfriend of two years to find myself single for the first time since I was 17. Needless to say, it’s been a learning experience.
But being back in New York to attend a major event like Cosmo’s Fun Fearless Life put everything into perspective. I rediscovered what ignites my soul in the course of 53 exciting hours that revived my passion for the career I’ve been building since age 15. I grew wings, learned to stand up straight in order to feel confident, gathered enough courage to speak to my favorite editors and managed to make a few connections for further professional networking. Turns out, I could be even more on top of the world.
I thought that Eat Pray Love was just a one-time occurrence, but, in reality, traveling does give you more than miles and good anecdotes for cocktail parties. It broke me down to the point of sobbing on the floor of my Madrid apartment unable to understand what the fuck was going wrong with my life while I had no academic stimulation, no control over the dramatic fate of my relationship and no patience to take time to heal myself.
But I made it alive, just enough to bring myself to buy a ticket to my real-life version of Bali (refer to Eat, Pray, Love). New York united it all for me to comprehend that shitty times are worth every second, even when rats walk past you while waiting for the R train. Hey there, little rodents!