I officially moved to New York City when I was 24 years old. I already knew the city pretty well as I used to drive down into the city during my college years at Cornell University. Back then, a 5-hour drive seemed like nothing to experience an exciting weekend in the big city. The summer before my junior year, I was accepted into a psychology internship at Cornell Weill Hospital and got to spend the entire summer living in the West Village and working hard at a job in line with my major.
Gosh, that was a long time ago! Here I am now, going on 15 years of living in this crazy city! Who knew I’d never leave? I fell in love with fast pace, forward thinking, urban lifestyle that’s unavoidable here. You either love it or you don’t and that’s what separates the “visitors” from the real New Yorkers. They say 7 years classifies you as a legit New Yorker. By that time, you’ve probably seen enough to either pack up your bags and leave or decide it’s home sweet home.
Making it in NYC was not always easy for me because I ended up here based on a series of events—I never quite chose to live here (until I fell in love with living here). I'll skip the series of events because that's another story entirely but the gyst is that I lived abroad for a few years.
At 18, I left my family and friends in Missouri to get the best education possible at Cornell, and once I finished college I knew I could never go back there. It’s not that I felt St. Louis wasn’t good enough for me anymore, it’s that I was a changed person. I no longer subscribed to the conservative thinking I grew up with, and I felt that my adult values fit in better among a population of ethnically diverse city dwellers.
I missed St. Louis all the time but once I got settled in New York City, it was in my veins and I was hooked. As I mentioned, it wasn’t a piece of a cake because I lived alone, paid high rents, worked long hour jobs and didn’t have the comfort of nearby childhood friendships to call on. It took me a while to find good girlfriends and a network of cool people to socialize with on a professional and intellectual level.
There were moments when I was really down and spent far too much time alone. It’s funny how New York City can appear to be the most crowded city in the world and yet still feel so lonely. Looking back at my mid 20’s, I remember these low moments clearly. It might even be the reason why moving to a new city at this point in my life scares me.
After 15 years of living here, I’ve nurtured a huge family of friends, lovely acquaintances and collaborators. I’m so thankful for all of them! But the truth is it took a lot of work to build this network…and I’m going to tell you how I did it.
I’ve always been a fitness lover but I started to work out more consistently and passionately during the years of my life when I was the loneliest here in NYC. I knew from my psychology studies that fitness was a wonderful way to naturally boost your serotonin levels, which helps to induce feelings of satisfaction and put you in a better mood.
I signed up for all kinds of group fitness classes, yoga workshops, road races and even completed a handful of marathons. While participating in these activities, I began to meet people that shared my interests and wanted to work out or train together. It was a welcome change in my life. All these new friends, whom I started to meet in abundance, were active people. They got me out of my apartment on weekends, convinced me to leave work a bit earlier to grab a smoothie, and then before I knew it, I was going on fun trips with my new fit crew.
Never in my life had I been so welcome and embraced by such warm and positive people. I’m 100% sure that it’s because I chose the fitness & health world to seek out new activities and friendships. People who like fitness & health tend to be social, friendly and up for new experiences. I’ve found that they’re not as judgmental as other folks I’ve come across living in New York. They also practice really healthy behaviors and have great discipline. I needed all of this in my life!
Being surrounded and accepted by the fitness & health community eventually inspired me to start my business, Mizzfit LLC. 2009 was a defining moment in my life. I decided to quit my career in advertising and took a risk starting a business without a clear business plan in place. I knew in my heart I would make it work…and it’s funny to look back at that woman who I was and think “wow, I was so smart, passionate and brave” because I don’t know if the woman that I am now would do such a thing! But I’m glad I did because starting Mizzfit LLC and becoming part of the New York wellness world was exactly what I needed to survive here.
I have written many articles and been interviewed about how I built my company and evolved my personal brand, so I won’t bore you with those details here. But what I will write is that my (1) business and (2) current state of happiness exist as they are today because I experienced deep sadness in my life and chose to do something about it. I feel lucky every day that fitness was the key to surviving in this great city. It’s a shame to live in such a beautiful city and not reap the rewards of an active lifestyle.
Since I’m always running around NYC like a mad woman for work, I have to keep my fashion fairly casual so I can be as productive as possible. I’m literally going cross town, uptown, and downtown all in 1 day. It’s worth it to dress in such a way that allows me to walk as much as possible—that way I can get a light workout while I’m on the move :) What you’ve seen me wearing throughout this article is my way of looking stylish while maintaining a nice level of comfort.
I love this 3-Stripes Dress from adidas because it’s t-shirt material but it also hugs my curves in a feminine way. I’ve been pairing it with my brown suede platform shoes to give me a little extra height.
When I have to catch the subway or walk for multiple blocks, I’m quick to change into a comfortable pair of fashion sneaks. These Women’s Originals Samba Rose Shoes are my fave because they have a gummy platform sole (I like to feel as tall as I can) and complete a sporty look with my dress.
Since it’s getting a bit colder in NYC, I like to have a moto jacket on me, like the vintage red one I'm wearing in one of my pics above. I scored it at a street market for a deal. Best $50 I ever spent! And to be honest, I jumped on the fanny pack trend pretty hard when it first started because my shoulders hurt when carry around a heavy tote for too long. My white croc fanny with gold hardware slings perfectly around my shoulders (without any pressure) and looks great with my adidas dress and sneaks.
If you’re going to live in an urban city like New York, you’ve got to dress for an on-the-go lifestyle. Never compromise on fashion, just make sure it’s something that lets you move and express who you are. I’m the girly but sporty girl who made it in New York City. And ‘til my dying day, that’s how I will define my personal style.
Thank you so much for reading this blog post! I hope some of it resonates with you. Please let me know what transitioning to a new city was like for you. And if you’re in that phase of your life now, I’m here to listen and provide you with guidance. Leave me a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
XO, Bianca Jade
This post was sponsored by adidas, all opinions are my own.
All photographs taken by Daphne Youree Photography.