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  • Victoria

SEPTEMBER + OCTOBER

I think I owe you guys an explanation. I’ve been MIA for the past two months, both online and in real life. It’s time I tell you why.


But first, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who reached out to me after my last blog post. It was scary to reveal that life wasn’t going so well and I was worried that people would see me as a failure. Yet the post seemed to have the opposite effect. Some of you could identify with my struggles and that was an empowering feeling. Thank you for helping me to find strength when I needed it the most.


The reason I’ve been absent lately is because things got worse. You might remember back in August that I was relieved to have found an apartment that appeared to tick most of my boxes. Since it required an uncharacteristically large security deposit, I was confident I had already got its catch figured out before I moved in.


I could not possibly have been more wrong. The truth is that I overlooked a massive red flag: the apartment was on the ground floor. Its only window (a necessity in the 30+ degree heat) opened directly onto the street, meaning there was just a thin sheet of glass between me and the heavy foot traffic coming from Times Square.


This graffiti perfectly captures my mood this September/October

Whenever I opened the window, people would stop and stare inside. Once or twice pedestrians joked that they could climb in if they wanted to. Yet shutting it felt equally unsafe. Drunk people would bang on the window, lean on it getting high or buzz the doorbell in the dead of night. I constantly felt on edge. Then at 3.30am one Sunday morning I got woken up to the New York Police Department raiding my building. I’m not sure why, but you know it can’t be good when the police arrive with guns demanding to be let in.


I knew I needed to leave after that. The leaseholder required me to find a new subtenant before returning my deposit, so I spent the next few weeks frantically trying to find someone and freaking out about possibly losing a significant portion of my life savings.


The hardest part was the impact on my health. I couldn’t sleep because I was paranoid about someone breaking in and the sleep deprivation made it difficult to think clearly. I found myself making mistakes that I normally wouldn’t, such as spelling emails wrong or saying one word when I really meant another.


My main focus for September and October has been figuring how to get out of that situation. After many obstacles along the way, I’m grateful to report that I’ve finally made it to the other side. I signed a new subtenant, got my deposit back and found a bedroom in Brooklyn. I even carried my belongings up seven flights of stairs and built an Ikea bed by myself. It was a huge test of resilience, but I got there.


The Manhattan skyline from my local park

Life is now starting to get better. I really like my new place. It’s a five-bedroom duplex, which is a big change from a studio. While I was initially nervous about living with other people, my roommates seem cool and there are added bonuses like a full-sized kitchen. The best part is that the apartment is only fifteen minutes’ walk from work. Suddenly I’ve gained an extra 1.5 hours per day on saved travel time to do the things I enjoy, like go to the gym and write posts like this one. And the rent is literally half of what I was paying in Manhattan!


Things are improving career-wise, too. I was in Washington DC in September and spent some time reflecting on what I wanted to be doing. I thought about how I was really enjoying my work with Outfit and the obvious next step seemed to be doing more of it. Have you ever had a moment where you realise the thing you’ve been looking for has been right in front of you all along? It was exactly like that. So I returned to New York, told the boys I was all in and got a fancy new ‘Head of Business Development’ title.


I’ll talk more about what I’m doing at Outfit next month. But for now I’ll say this: I adore my job. I unashamedly think I have the best team ever. I wake up every day feeling excited to go to work because I believe I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. For the first time in ages, I feel fulfilled. And I’m really, really glad I didn’t become a corporate lawyer.


Visiting the White House in Washington DC

I’ve also been doing some fun projects for Kea on the side. My team back in New Zealand have been awesome about sending work my way and I can’t even begin to express how much I enjoy being able to stay connected. Here is a shortlist of my top highlights this fall:

  • Hearing Chris Liddell speak at the New Zealand Embassy. Chris works as Deputy Chief of Staff to President Trump (an apolitical role) and formerly had an impressive business career as CFO of Microsoft and General Motors. He is a Kiwi of the highest calibre and his work is of great interest to me given his success in both business and policy. The talk was under Chatham House rules, but I left feeling reassured about living in Trump’s America knowing that Chris is guiding the President.

  • Taking almost 100 expats on a sunset sail around Manhattan. Not only were the views outstanding, we got to see Kiwi artist Joseph Michael’s incredible art piece of the ice caps melting projected onto the United Nations. I know firsthand how difficult it is for the UN to make strong political statements and it was amazing to see a Kiwi spearhead one on climate change.

  • Interviewing another artist, Clare Gemima, on her move to New York. After cutting her teeth in New Zealand, the Whitecliffe graduate scored a job with the Museum of Modern Art. Now she is absolutely killing it in the Big Apple. I think Clare epitomises the need to create the opportunities you want and I had a great time getting to know her. You can read our interview here.


Speaking about Kea at the Chris Liddell event. Photo by the Kiwi Leadership Network

Outside of Outfit and Kea, I was also lucky to do some work with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise this month. I happened to be dropping off some boxes after a Kea event when the team mentioned they needed an extra pair of hands. I said “I’d love to work for NZTE!” and the rest was history. It felt crazy because I remember thinking this time last year that Outfit, Kea and NZTE were the top three organisations I wanted to work with. I had no idea how to land a job at one of them, let alone all three. It’s funny how things work out.


The next month is going to be about settling down (a phrase I have never used before). After so many months of hustling, I’m looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the ride. I have a feeling November’s post could read quite differently to my last few. Stay tuned!

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