What Moving to NYC Means to Me

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nycBy Diana Matthews

"The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself." - Carrie Bradshaw

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]I[/dropcap]n the past month, I changed my life. We all did, actually. Things have been absolutely bonkers in the Dream, Girl camp.

We screened the film at the White House, hosted our sold-out premiere, booked screenings as near as Westchester, New York and as far as Auckland, New Zealand and put in place our sales team to facilitate the growth of this powerhouse movement.

I also decided to move to New York City.

It was a decision that felt like it had been years in the making. A lifetime, really. It had been burbling below the surface, waiting for the right time to manifest itself as an opportunity, rather than a dream. It’s just so strange when that transition actually happens.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

I had moved away from home three years ago to attend grad school in Ottawa.  The pace of the program was intense and the work was relentless. It didn’t take long before my yoga routine and (somewhat) balanced diet that I had established in my undergrad took a back seat to projects, deadlines and chasing leads.

The value in setting aside a few hours a week to dedicate to my practice quickly diminished as I immersed myself in the demands of the degree. It took a toll. And I knew that when Komal and Erin asked if I would move to New York City, I would have to make taking care of my emotional and mental well-being a priority.

One of the things that I feel so grateful for in this move is the incredible community I’m entering into. The generosity and inclusivity I’ve already experienced in the city has given me immeasurable peace of mind. The amount of like-minded people I’ve met in the last month has been so validating and shown me that I am where I belong. I am where I belong.

It feels surreal to type, let alone say out loud. It’s an incredible thing to recognize that I know more people in NYC than I knew in Ottawa when I moved there. In Ottawa, I didn’t know a soul. In NYC, I know several beautiful souls who validate and see me.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]B[/dropcap]eing a pop culture junkie from as early as I can remember, much of my viewing, listening and cultural experience has been defined by New York. This is not unique. The saturation and dominance of film, television and music out of the Big Apple is what has made it one of the most influential cities in the world.

I’ve been in love with NYC since Rachel Green walked out of the rain and into Central Perk wearing her sopping wet wedding dress. That love was reinforced as I watched Carrie Bradshaw and her three best friends shop and sip their way around Manhattan, one Manolo Blahnik and Cosmo at a time. And the soundtracks to Rent and Wicked provided the background music to all three years of high school (which was ideal because Broadway is the only genre that could keep up to that kind of drama!)

To me, these aren’t clichés. They’re the characters and spaces I saw myself reflected in as I developed my own identity and sense of media literacy.

I’ve been told for most of my life that pop culture is shallow, meaningless and a complete waste of time. When my biggest dream was to become a MuchMusic VJ and interview celebrities on the red carpet, my best friends were thinking of going into accounting, medical school and engineering.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with these professions, it just made me feel like my interests lacked value. I even struggled to find friends who shared my passion for feminism.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

I’ve been lucky in that my interests have always been rooted in visual media. Whether it’s TV or filmmaking, storytelling through imagery and sound is what gets me going. When I found Dream, Girl and connected with Erin and Komal, my interests were no longer fringe, silly or unattainable. They were within my reach and infused with meaning - a meaning that had worth.

I’ve spent the past year working alongside women that have become my family. I’m no longer worried that I should’ve taken a different path or that my dreams aren’t enough. Sure, the vision has changed somewhat, but to be honest - not by much.

A big part of taking care of myself in this process is finding someone to help me establish a sense of grounding and sustainability. With so much going on in this post-launch phase, the Dream, Girl office is a busy hive of activity, a wonderful feeling to be sure. But I know that in order to be my best self on this team, there are certain aspects I must take care of in this transition process.

I’ve often felt a need to “go it alone.” I fiercely value my independence, almost to a point of dysfunctional martyrdom. In archetypal language, this is often identified as the Orphan Child, a character who feels that they must achieve success and go through life alone in order for it to be valuable.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]U[/dropcap]pon returning to Calgary, I reached out to a woman who I consider to be a grounding force in my life. She’s an executive coach and a woman I admire. There are people in life whom you instantly click with and for me, she’s one of them.

When I asked her if she would coach and work with me through this transition, she didn’t say anything back. She just reached out her arms and hugged me tightly, reassuring me that in all that I’m about to go through, I am not doing it alone.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

After finding an apartment in Brooklyn, I met up with a group of friends and watched the Tony Awards Red Carpet at the Beacon Theatre. As the cameras flashed and an endless parade of genetically blessed superstars waved at loyal onlookers, I couldn’t help but smile. It was a profoundly validating experience after making the decision to be there.

A couple of weeks later, I watched Sarah Jessica Parker work the shoe department at Bloomingdale’s as promotion for her brand.

To feel seen and supported in a city of 8.5 million people is something that I do not take for granted.

My passion for empowering women is only amplified by my love of culture. Being my best self in NYC and stepping into this new adventure will take some time to figure out. To know that the work I’m a part of is striving to facilitate the growth of female storytelling and encourage women to find their voice is incredibly humbling.

This is what I love. And I know longer need to be apologetic for it.