I can’t believe I’ve been living in New York for six weeks! The time has truly flown by and yet it feels like so much has happened in a brief period of time. I’ve realized my friends and I keep having variations of the same conversation: how crazy it is to be 23, living in this incredible city, feeling like the world is your oyster, and yet having so many things up in the air. Apartments, careers, friendships, relationships… There are so many moving parts and so little real stability.

The past month has brought a lot of unexpected changes. Move in a week after Christmas? Why not! Head to Salt Lake for a few days? Let’s do it! Time for fashion week? RSVP yes! And for all the happy moments I’ve shared on Instagram and Twitter, truthfully I’ve been in a bit of a funk. As some of you noticed, my boyfriend and I decided to part ways after three years together. Trying to maintain a happy demeanor while nursing a broken heart is exhausting. Running my business out of my little apartment has been a huge adjustment. Heck, even raising a puppy in the city has been more challenging than I’d anticipated.

I don’t say any of this to complain but simply to keep it real. As someone who craves routine, I struggle with the feeling that nothing is really on solid ground right now. But there’s always a silver lining, especially in New York. Every walk around the block is reenergizing. For every sadness and stress, there’s a bright spot — a funny text message, a new favorite coffee shop, a night out with girlfriends, a tried-and-true T.Swift dance party. My friend Eddy has been helping me pack orders a few days a week, which has pretty much rocked my world. There have been bad days, yes, but on the good days I get the sense that something amazing could happen the very next moment. And I’ll be here, right where I’m supposed to be, when it does.

I know this hybrid of confusion and excitement isn’t unique to being 23 or to living in New York. I imagine lots of you are in the same boat – embracing adventure, making mistakes, realizing that maybe there’s no such thing as having it all figured out (or maybe that it’s more fun not to). As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And thank you all for being part of this crazy, exciting, weird time in my life. It wouldn’t be the same without you. 🙂

*Images 1 / 2 / 3 and more New York favorites here

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57 thoughts on “KEEPING IT REAL

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  1. I was thinking of this post when I read your sweet story of meeting Will. Isn’t it funny how things always work out the way they are supposed to, but it is Sooo hard to see it when you’re in that tough moment. So happy for your engagement and the happy times ahead!

  2. I have just been catching up on your blog and can completely empathize with this post. A 23 year old myself about to make the big move to San Francisco, I know what it can feel like to have everything not feel solid or stable underneath you. But if I had one piece of advice, it would be to focus on the fact that you are doing something you love. Working on what you love, writing about what you love, in a city you love. Take comfort in that, it is a very lucky thing 🙂


  3. I was born in Chicago and professionally work at New York. But your knowledge is much better. Your post is very help full for me. Recently i want to purchase home furniture and i visited many furniture stores online but i was unable to purchase the furniture. Because there is same price both at physical stores as well as online stores. So now i have decided that i purchased from physical store in NY.

  4. Aw, Im sorry to hear the news of your breakup. To put a positive on that, as if that is easy sometimes, you’re young, you’re gorgeous, and you are single in that amazing city!!! You have a great circle around you and a nice new apartment to grow from 🙂

  5. Such a great post! I can relate to so much of this. I am 21 and about to graduate from University this spring. I also own a small retail company and as amazing as it can be, it can be hard to find stability when we are in charge of creating our own structure. It seems like you have the important things figured out though 🙂
    Hopefully our lives will cross paths at some point as I feel like we are soul sistahs when I read your posts!!
    Good luck and enjoy your adventure!
    xxx Buggy

  6. I’ve been in NYC since August and it is exhusting but you have this girl! I can be very fun and fabulous and other times you are pretty sure the homeless men are having a better day than you. One day we will have this crazy city figured out but for now I sure don’t.

  7. I absolutely loved your post. I’m 28 now, but I moved to New York City when I was 21, just out of college. Everything that you wrote about–from the confusion to the excitement of being in your early 20s in the Big Apple–resonates with me. One moment I was lovin’ life, in a state of complete disbelief that I was “making it” as a NYC girl, and then the next moment I was in a funk, thinking my life was a mess–from work to money to relationships–and I was never going to figure things out. Fast forward five or six years, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. What I can tell you is that what you’re experiencing now is awesome, but it only gets better, and things begin to work themselves out. I’d say my turning point was around age 25. Live up your early 20s in New York City. While they were challenging, I still look back on them fondly. What an exciting time in a person’s life! 🙂 Best of luck,


  8. you’ll look back on all of it and laugh and smile, and realize that the heartbreaking things + the
    worst things to ever happen end up being the best thing that ever could have happened. i had a 5 year relationship end horribly at 23, when I had moved to arizona alone for work for 6 months, so I’ve been there too. everything happens for a reason. Good for you for seeing the silver lining – and all the amazing things that come with NYC! – only good things are up ahead! and I agree – there’s no such thing as having it all figured out and it is DEFINITELY more fun not to! glad you are loving New York!

  9. Everyone should keep it real. Period. There should be no other way, ever! This is actually a motto that I live by “keep it real”! Life is full of surprises and will never cease to amaze you (it does the same to me). Your not alone – life throws punches sometimes. You’ll heal and you’ll adjust – lean on your friends and family – that’s what we are “here” for!!! I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you my dear. PS – everything happens for a reason and remember that the end of things is really a new beginning!

  10. Hi Mackenzie,

    Oh, I thought something was up, sorry to hear that you and your boyfriend split up. Breakups are always hard but as time goes on it gets easier and before you know it the heartaches will have disappeared and new adventures will be around the corner.


  11. Change is always tough, both good and bad. I’m sorry things are so complicated for you right now, it stinks! And even though I don’t know you personally I think it’s safe to say that when the going gets tough the the tough get going and you are tough and you are certainly going. All your accomplishments, at your young age especially, are awesome and it never ceases to amaze me as you continue to add new ones all the time. I’m just glad that you share them here with the world so we can be inspired by you! Hang in there! Life might keep getting more complicated as you age but it gets better too, even admidst all the crazy!


  12. This post!

    Mackenzie, thank you for keeping things real. Life is about so much–all those highest of highs and the lowest of lows. As you yourself have already said, there’s something good for everything bad that may appear. Don’t worry too much and keep your head up. Some day, you’ll look back on these first few months in New York and smile, knowing that you were brave enough to leap into the unknown.

    Anything can happen and I’m sure that you’re right where you need to be right now. Everything is going to work itself out! Remember that the best is always to come.

    Here’s to following your dreams and enjoying everything life brings 🙂


  13. Big hug for all the amazing things you’re experiencing. I’ve been in NYC since college (10 years ago) and every single day i wake up with a sense of wonder and gratitude that i get to live here – walk down these streets, experience this life. It’s wonderful you’re sharing these moments with us!

  14. Keep your head up– the best is absolutely yet to come! You are so talented and your blog is a refreshing delight. Thanks for the daily inspiration.

  15. Hugs to you my dear. I don’t miss being 23 for the sheer reason of suddenly realizing that my “five year plan” had no bearing on the real world! As a big planner, that was very scary, but it also opened me up to new possibilities (that was about the time I started my blog!). And though being nearly 28 I still don’t know if I have my sh** together, I’m a little more ok with that – sounds like you’re on that path too. So much greatness in store for you 🙂

  16. know one day when you look back on your life, you won’t regret this big leap of faith one bit. I believe good things happen to those that chase dreams and take chances. Your life and you, will be all the better for it. I am sorry to hear about the breakup, but you seem to have your head, and heart, in the right place for you. I am visiting NYC for the first time this coming December…I can’t wait. xoxo

  17. Stay strong sista! You’ve only just begun and are already ahead of the game. You’ve created so much opportunity for yourself you’re now perfectly poised to sky rocket. While breakups are tough, there’s kinda nothing more fabulous than heading into your mid-20s single and hungry (take it from someone who got married at 30). You’re in a perfect spot. Enjoy every second.

    PS – I’ll be in NYC in March and would LOVE to see you!

  18. Hang in there lil’ one! You have an exciting journey ahead of you. That level of discomfort you are feeling is because you are outside of you comfort zone.. That’s the best place to be.. where all of the AMAZING things happen!

    Keep your chin up… Things are only going up from here! 😉

  19. Changes can certainly bring ups and downs, but you have accomplished so much as such a young age. I have a sneaky feeling there are BIG things ahead for you, miss! Continue to be your fabulous self. XX

  20. Oh girl…I can certainly relate, but not to worry! It’s totally normal and you’re in good company. If you had it all figured out by 23 you’d be missing something!

    I ditto all that’s been said, particularly Sarah @ Savvy Young Something about 22-25 being the most tumultuous years of life thus far…so much fun/exciting but so all over the place and lots of big question marks which can be unnerving…I’m 27 now, so definitely still figuring a LOT out of course, but things have gotten significantly smoother over the last 2 years and most of my friends report the same 🙂 So just go with it and know that the up in the air stuff really IS a good thing (even though it does nottt always seem like it at the time…) Sometimes it just takes blind faith. You are really doing great. Really!

  21. This couldn’t hit closer to home! I’m 23 and moved to this crazy city a short 8 months ago. There are so many ups and downs living here – very much a love/hate relationship at times. I’m 1,000 miles from my puppy and my family.. Props to you for raising Rory here! I can’t swing it with the 9-6. 🙁
    While I didn’t have a breakup before moving here, being so far from my family & friends is tough.
    I know what you mean about the funk, though.. I’ve been in one lately, too. They come and go! We just have to get through the ups and downs because it is pretty amazing here!
    PS- Drinks soon, please?! 🙂

  22. as sad as it was reading this, it is also refreshing… as accomplished as you are, your just 23 and going through the same shit we all are! i’m 23 and going through a toughie, too… they say it gets better 🙂

  23. So sorry to hear about the downs, but unfortunately there are part of the cycle, and fortunately you have way more ups! I think in a couple of years from now you will look back at this time and say “remember when I just moved to NYC and….” and you will laugh about it and remember how brave you were and how getting through all that got you where you one day will be 😉

  24. hang in there, girl! you’re doing exactly the right thing – moving to nyc and living it up at this time in your life is so important! you’ll look back on this time with the fondest of memories – i can personally attest! xo

  25. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 23 was definitely tough- but you have such a positive outlook, which I’m sure will only help you in the long run. It’s tough to put on a brave face sometimes, but I’m sure that living in the big city with that adorable little pup of yours is just going to keep getting better 🙂


  26. i feel like 23 is the most awkward age. there are so many up and downs. i’m working on moving out and starting my own business so i completely understand how hard it is. but you kick ass and everything is going to work out for you. if you ever need a friend, you have one in san diego.

  27. Sweetie, I’m so sorry to hear about your breakup. I know exactly how you feel – about the sadness and the excitement of a new life, about the ups and downs… Good news is you’ll soon realize there are many more ups than down. Time really does heal everything. In the meantime, chin up and have a little fun 🙂 Xx

  28. I’m really sorry to hear you’ve had a few ups and downs lately, Mackenzie. And I appreciate you keeping it real hear and being so authentic & honest – that’s why I love you and your blog so much! I can only say that I can completely relate to what you’re going through right now and at the ripe old age of 29 I can honestly say that, this too, shall pass. It sounds lame at the time, but it’s true. Doesn’t make it any easier, but know it just means something brighter’s around the corner for you.

  29. So sorry about the breakup! I’ve been there. Breakups can be devastating and liberating. At least you get to know yourself better and, especially at this age, really learn how to deal with grief and as adult. I’m 26 and I think that 22-25 were some of the most tumultuous years of my life, and I’m still figuring a lot out. Even what you write about New York sounds familiar, and I’m in DC. You’ve done so much for someone who is 23! It’s amazing how much direction you have in your career–something a lot of people our age struggle with for a long time! Things changed a lot for me in the past two years (links to posts about them below) and the cool thing is that you have no idea where you’ll be at the end of 2013, so you can only dream of the possibilities. Get excited for what your future holds!


  30. Aw, Mackenzie, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been in a funk. NYC can be a really tough place to live… definitely a LOT of ups and downs. I’m also sorry to hear about you and your guy – that’s tough. Keep your head up… things will get better!

  31. I know exactly, 100% how you feel! If you ever, ever want to talk or grab coffee or anything just let me know! I really, really applaud you for posting this. xo

  32. I was in your shoes once, but in LA. But because the main thing I had in LA was a guy, when we broke up I didnt know what to do. I ended up moving back to Oklahoma to be near family. This guy and I had been dreaming together so when things ended I felt so hopeless. Its been a year of healing/restoration & dreaming again. It’s also been one of the best years of my life & so many more to come.
    You’re a true inspiration! I can’t wait to see how much you’ve grown next year!


  33. This post really, really resonates with me. I’m 23, moved to a new city a few months ago, and am “find myself” too. While I’m still with my long-time boyfriend (I actually followed him to Seattle), I think that 23 is an age of general unsteadiness, which is hard. I too crave solid ground and I think that all of our years in school and college taught us to be comfortable with that. We always knew what the next step would be. 23 is a transitional time. We are transitioning to adults, growing our careers, defining ourselves, and making friends that fit the us we are becoming. So don’t feel alone! It’s a rocky time but change is necessary if you want to become something different than you are now. You can only get more fabulous!

  34. I completely understand!! I’m also 23 and living in NYC facing ups and downs with work, life etc. it can be confusing but I’m sure it will all work out the way it’s meant to! That said, we should meet and have coffee 🙂

  35. I just left a post on The Everygirl about what I’d tell my 23 yr old self & then read your post- great timing!

    My advice was to embrace the uncertainty. Its a challenging time & I know I had a lot more changes than I was expecting. And its hard to deal with but life works itself out, so enjoy these years of endless possibilities, struggle, & just finding your adult self.

    I’m turning 30 in a few days so I feel like imparting my old age wisdom 🙂 I have no advice for the heartache, except lean on your girlfriends & cry if you want to. Sometimes that’s the best medicine.

  36. Thanks for keeping it real! Sometimes sharing the hard stuff can be weird, and embracing it is all we can truly do. I’m so excited for your adventures! I can’t wait to be in NYC during my spring break and enjoy the city some. 🙂

  37. Mackenzie,

    I definitely agree with you and feel a lot of what you’re feeling! It can only get better, though! And you’re living in a fantastic city where there will always be something bright and fun going on!

    Your boutique is amazing!

  38. Mckenzie, no doubt in my mind you will make it anywhere, anytime! Seize each day and enjoy every moment of it. So many beautiful and exciting things waiting for you!


  39. I had no idea you were only 23. With that said, good for you for doing what I wish I had then, and despite everything, no matter how hard it has been, the hardest is behind you. Getting the courage to get up and move to a new city after launching a new business is tough. Guess what, you did it. At this point, there is nothing you cannot do. About the boyfriend thing, it hurts, it’s hard but it fades. In a while, you may look back and still feel some sadness but you’ll be in a better place. You may not even realize it just yet that you already are.

  40. Mackenzie your courage is so inspiring! Somewhere in the middle of college, I changed my mind about pursuing fashion writing + publishing simply because I was afraid of moving to NYC by myself and falling into a lonely funk there. I love Boston and am happy with my decision, but I truly admire you for being so brave and making that move! And yes, pretty much ever 23-year-old does go through something similar, but that doesn’t make it any easier. You’re more than allowed to be confused and scared right now. At least we’re all in this together though 🙂 xx

  41. Trust me when I tell you that at 23, you are WAY ahead of the game. I know it feels like things are up in the air now, but life has a way of sorting out the pieces and before you blink and eye, time will have flown by and you’ll be remembering that beautiful time when everything was possible. Enjoy the uncertainty of it all and know we’re all quite sure that things will work out exactly as they should for you:))))

  42. This is so exciting! It takes so much guts to up and move somewhere else, and it’s exciting to read and live vicariously through you!

    I’m sorry to hear about your break up, but sometimes it’s the push that’s needed to do something HUGE and out of your comfort zone.

    All the best in your bright future!

  43. Your honesty’s an amazing, beautiful thing, Mackenzie! I think the blogging world can make it seem like everyone’s life is glamorous, carefree, and perfectly curated 24/7, but your blog has always stood out to me for the real look at your life. I totally feel like I know you! Leaving college and going off on your own really does feel directionless sometimes after so many years of structure, but you are one ambitious lady, and I feel like there’s always some sunshine peeking through in your writing =)

  44. Thanks for sharing Mackenzie. It is so hard sometimes when everyone thinks everything is going so amazing but really you are going through such change and inside you are really hurting about something but also trying to enjoy the great things you have going. It will all fall into place, I know it and you will have a routine will follow! You are doing such amazing things and inspiring so many people. embrace the good : ) xo

  45. Well dang, you amaze me with how much you have been able to do. To be honest, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to up and move to NYC, run a business, and tackle life by the horns at 23 but you have done it beautifully my friend. Heartbreak is the pits and I sure hope the cloud passes over quickly…in the meantime, let me just remind you what a gem you are:) xo

  46. What you’re going through is totally normal! On one hand it’s like yay! I’m a grown-up, my life is so cool but on the other hand it’s like woah, I thought I’d have x, y, and z figured out and I feel kind of lost. I’ve been there and many of my friends have been there too. It’s a weird transition.
    I love your optimism though. “but on the good days I get the sense that something amazing could happen the very next moment. And I’ll be here, right where I’m supposed to be, when it does.” How beautifully written and so true I get goosebumps just re-reading it.
    You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.
    Sending lots of love and peace your way, darling!

  47. Oh Mackenzie, I’m sorry you’ve been down. You’re amazing! I wish I’d had it as together at 23 as you do (as you know). But I don’t need to tell you any of this because you know you’re destined for greatness. Xo

  48. Oh Mackenzie! I know exactly how it feels. I know the crazy, exciting, weird time of life that is the early twenties is just teaching us so much and prepping us for the rest of our lives. You have such a great attitude, I know you’re taking the negative and making it positive. I so appreciate you being real with us. Much love to you. xo

  49. First, can I just say that it is so refreshing to read true honesty. Life is not always warm and fuzzy, especially when you’re really getting used to the REAL world. We read blogs to escape but we also come to appreciate the lives behind these bloggers and their daily lives. Confusion and mistakes are REAL and beautiful because they yield certainty and success. Second, I have learned as I approach 30 that you must learn in your 20’s is that it’s time to stop comparing your life to other people’s. There is a quote- “Comparison is the death of happiness.” I believe that. We grow up doing the same things at about the same times as our peers and then it suddenly STOPS. Let it and enjoy YOUR journey. When you stop living for other people and start living for you, good things will come. Finally, people who act like they have life all figured out are in for a rude awakening one day. The only thing I can control are my emotions and actions and that is ALL. Embrace the rest. By acknowledging what you are going through at just 23, you’re going to be juuuust fine.

  50. I was in your shoes once. I moved to NYC around the same age. Relationship ended, 9/11 happened and we got back together only to break up again less than a year later. I can look back now and appreciate my 20’s. it was full of ups and downs but also a lot of fun! At 36 I feel like an old fart now writing this but you are in a great time of life now! You will get through these feelings : ) Hang in there!