New York marathon weekend is becoming a personal anniversary for me, despite the fact I have never run a marathon. Two years ago I was sent from London to attend a conference in the city. I had been to New York before but traveling there on my own changed it for me. I started making inroads, a contact here and there, a sense of where I might live, the deliciousness of imagining something before it happens. That trip I also made a new friend, who, within two days of knowing me had set me up with the love of my life. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.
A year later, on Marathon weekend, I was relocating to cover a temporary CSO maternity role for my advertising agency. The opportunity seemed unreal, as opportunities tend to in this city. The titles, the salaries and the scale of the marketplace loom like the buildings, warping all perspective. Such responsibility excited me but also jarred with my British sensibility to underplay and over-prepare. But this city has no time for that. I had to step up, own the challenge, “be more American about it”. To secure a future in New York, I needed to use my temporary position to find a permanent one. And I had just three months, which incidentally, is the time it takes a woman in America to have a baby and return to work. This stark comparison made the challenge feel achievable at least.
Now it’s marathon weekend again and this year has felt like a marathon. I found a role at a new agency, I got my visa, I survived swine flu, we got engaged, and he got his visa too. Shortly after my (now) fiancé joined me here, I put myself forward for a pitch described as ‘the biggest in history’. My new boss gave me the opportunity to lead and we won. But toward the end of it, I became seriously unwell with pneumonia and have only recently recovered. So here we are - one year older, ten years wiser, New Yorkers. And only just beginning to understand what that means.
Like I said, I’ve never run a marathon so please forgive the stolen analogy; that living here is like running one. And as you can tell, I also didn’t get it quite right, so this is about my experience and what I've learned. The temptation is to sprint at the start, get caught up in the adrenaline of the competition - to chase every win rather than overall success. This year I’m going to train harder, listen to my body, and listen to my running partner when he says to slow down. Because I’ve heard that when you set a steady pace, you can enjoy the Manhattan skyline (and occasionally sprint when it counts.)
This piece was by Elle Graham-Dixon. Follow her @elle__o__elle