Thursday, July 12, 2012

how to make it in new york

Yesterday, I enjoyed a late lunch with my college roommate at a Hell's Kitchen diner. Then I got some work done in a New York Public Library, walked uptown for yoga at Zenyasa Studio, and eventually met old co-workers at The Dove Parlour for drinks. It was a spectacular Wednesday, and dare I say, typical. To me, this is what living in New York is like—spontaneity, convenience, inconvenience, and unlimited possibilities. So, a few weeks ago when I read this in a comment, “[I] would appreciate any tips/advice on how to make it in the city,” I thought to myself: have I really figured out how to make it here? Probably not, but I'll attempt to share any wisdom I’ve acquired from my short and sweet experience anyway.
  1. New Yorkers aren’t that great. They are actually, and in a lot of ways, but please do not get intimidated by the fit, stylish, put-together men and women you pass by the hundreds on both the sidewalks and subways. Nobody is ever as “cool” as they seem. And once you get to talking with new people, you’ll realize 98% of these New Yorkers have originated in small cities and even smaller towns all across the world. More often than not, they weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths, and even more importantly, they didn’t always love-hate-love it here. Each one had to find their footing in this "small world, big city" place. The universal trick? Wanting to, and finding ways to continue relentlessly trying until that one day when everything seemed to serendipitously click. By the way, ask them about that day if you can. I have a feeling it'll make for a good story.
Once you digest the little known (or at least little shared) fact above, you’ll be able to take a deep breath and actually take on the city. Start with the little things...
  • Buy your favorite soap for your tiny apartment and establish your favorite coffee shop in your neighborhood. Both will make you feel more at home.
  • Find a job so you can sustain this coffee (or insert any other "vice" here) habit of yours. Oh, and so you can simply afford to live here; this city truly is as expensive as they say it is. Craigslist.com is very much a legitimate source. Utilize LinkedIn and your university's alumni directory as well.
  • Walk around. You will eventually master the subway and bus system with repeated use so do that too, but resist taxis. In order to appreciate all the hidden gems in Chelsea, the East Village, Tribeca, Flatiron, and Yorkville, you have to discover them first. Getting lost truly is the best way to do so.
  • Pick an escape. Hopefully you'll get carried away with the vivacious energy of New York too, out of necessity if nothing else, but none of us can sustain the fast lane full time. Hike a trail in Connecticut, go antiquing in Northern Westchester, wine taste in Long Island, just choose a way to getaway.
  • Create a circle of friends. If you’re one of the lucky ones who moves here knowing a handful of kind souls—how perfect for you! If, instead, you’re one of the “unlucky” ones, know you’re not unlucky at all. As I assume to be true when one moves to any new city, it’s not necessarily easy to make new friends, but it is very possible. So I ask you: what are you interested in? Hopefully you’ll make some friends at work, but there are also an endless number of activities to get involved with alongside, wait for it, other like-minded people who you’ll probably get along with extremely well and want to hang out with time and time again. Join a book club, a kickball league, a volunteer group. My gosh, go to a meet up! You will meet people, and although you won’t find yourself exchanging information and making weekend plans with each one of them, you'll certainly do so with a few. Even though I had a solid group of friends from childhood and college living here, I made even more best friends through blogging.
  • Live the life you want, albeit within your means. Your life in New York will likely not fall within the extremes of Sex and the City and Girls, and that is a wonderful thing. I personally love how much “being out and about” is a part of the culture. As your social circle expands, you’ll find your calendar filling up with brunch, lunch, dinner, and drink plans. For me, that is bliss; for you, it may not be. If spending the majority of your time (and small income) on dining out isn't your cup of tea, simply don't do it; there are a ridiculous number of other things to do! Focus on what brings you joy—arts, sports, culture, entertainment—and enjoy the free stuff. No matter what you'd like to fill your life with, you will definitely be able to find opportunity for it here. There is a niche for everyone; be patient with yourself and this hectic city as you figure out yours.
P.S. Did anyone else notice how I only focused on Manhattan? Well, that would be because  I'm thoroughly unfamiliar with living in Brooklyn or Queens, or Staten Island, or the Bronx. I may have "made it" in New York, but I doubt I'll ever be cool enough to live outside of the oldest borough ;). Let's hope Paris is gentle.

2 comments:

  1. Great article! I've never been to NY but it's definitely on the bucket list. I'm a westcoast girl though and I love living a laidback lifestyle. I'm not sure what I would feel about a fast-paced city life. :P

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  2. @ko0ty: Thanks! This is the only city I've really gotten to know well, so I actually don't know if I'd survive a more laid-back lifestyle, ha.

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