by chichi offor
Some people dream their whole lives of moving to New York City. I am not one of those. Don’t misunderstand—the allure of the city was always present but for many years I had Los Angeles on my mind and anyone who knew me would tell you this as well. It’s only but a random spur of twist and turns, inspiring talks and such, that led me to pivot and chase down the publishing world centered in between the large, gaping buildings of NYC.
After two years, my dreams aren’t exactly the same. Persistent rejection has allowed me to really mull over my desires for my so called “big” life. Have I figured it out? No, I don’t think anyone ever really does, but I’ve been learning to listen to my innermost thoughts more than ever before. I’m using those whispers as guideposts, so I’d say that’s a step in the right direction. One big part of getting closer to my own heart is the process of moving further away from all that I’ve known physically and figuratively.
It’s a cliché, but true. The City and post-graduate life have taught me so much. Never the lessons I sought out to learn, but the ones that life deemed necessary. This is a recurring theme in my two years of both eager and reluctant bites from the Big Apple.
And what of New York?
It’s casually intense. You can go from hearing loud screaming matches on the street to blaring sirens in a matter of seconds. It’s a place where a calm subway ride can turn into an acrobatics show.
People do care, but not usually in public. Yes, at first glance New York City dwellers appear to be chilly to their core, but it’s a guise built off necessity and self preservation for most people. Though, just like anywhere else, we do have our fair share of pure, unadulterated assholes.
“New York is trash, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need.” A very accurate quote from a native New Yorker and dear friend. The phrase captures the relentless punches I’ve been thrown since living here: my continuously depressing job search, introspection, financial woes, and more. This quote also can speak to the literal bags and bags of trash that pile up on the sidewalks or the unidentifiable odors caught by walking through the grid-like streets. Basically, you grow from being in a state of uncomfiness, and NYC can definitely give you some of that.
You only go above 23rd street for work, museums, and theater. Speaking as a Brooklynite, uptown is too terribly far away. If I make the trek, you must be special. Midtown is where culture goes to die. I stand by that statement as I spend most of my time in Brooklyn or lower Manhattan and so does everyone else with sense.
Don’t trust people that aren’t willing to step foot in Brooklyn. There’s something wrong there. Maybe it’s an elitism thing. I can’t always say. It’s just weird and not in a good way.
Park hangs are pure bliss. Find some grass. Take off your shoes. Wiggle your toes in the green. The feeling is freeing and grounding. It reminds you that you are a part of this Earth and just like everyone else that feels the grass, you matter. Plus, stuffing your face with berries amongst great pals on a nice blanket is a real bonus.
It gets cold, but nothing as unbearable as people say. New York doesn’t really get colder than other places I’ve lived. The big thing to know is that the cold persists. It’ll be around for about five months out of the year. Get a solid coat and you’ll be fine.
When making friends, prioritize the genuine. Soon enough you start valuing your time more, and you seek deeper connections. I’ve met so many people and if I tried to hang out with everyone that seemed “nice” that'd be an epic waste of time. Everyone is nice. Look for people that call you out on your bullshit, make you laugh so much your stomach hurts, and challenge you in every way. Nothing real comes simply from just nice, but if that’s all what you want then your office happy hour will take care of that.
The City is what you make it. This really goes for anywhere, but it’s so relevant. Is something in your life not going the way you want? Change it. If you don’t like something, you have the power to find the fulfillment you need. It might not be in exactly the way you planned. If you have no friends in your city, you might have to hit up Bumble BFF. If no publication or magazine wants to give you a shot, try your local newspaper. It’s so easy to get in a rut and a negative mind space when life keeps dealing you a shitty hand. But always try to look out for the bright side because, trust me, it’s there.
There is something powerful about New York. It could be the random people screaming at each other outside of my window every so often. It could be the loud rumble of the MTA. There’s a level of alert awareness you build about your life, or at least I’ve built about mine. Who knows if I’ll be here forever or even a year from now. All I do know is that I’m right exactly where I’m supposed to be at this time in my life, and I wouldn’t change anything about these past two years in New York City.