Everything is scary until you do it.
New York is kind of a scary concept. Millions of people in a small amount of space. Crowded streets, crowded buildings, crowded subways. There isn’t crime around every corner waiting for you. But you do need to pay attention to your surroundings. The sheer number of people means there will be more poverty and homelessness, dirtier streets, more germs. It also means there will be loud, opinionated people. Or sometimes there will be loud, mentally unstable people sitting next to you on the Subway talking to themselves or yelling “You’re all going to wish you were dead!” at you and a friend in the street (yes, that actually happened).
There are a lot of unsettling things about New York. But, having just left, I can say I felt an overwhelming sense of security and like I was truly at home in New York.
This summer, I did something I’d always wanted to do. A friend of mine asked me if I had known about my internship before I decided I wanted to live in the city. Basically, what came first: my job or the city? And my answer was the city. The city always came first. If anyone ever asked where I wanted to live most or where I wanted to visit, that was the first place to come to mind. I was just too afraid to really ever do it or say I was going to do it. Personally, I thank God for the courage and good timing to do it.
When I came to New York in middle school with my mom and a friend, I really saw it through rose-colored glasses. This idealistic view of the city continued as I grew up and obsessively watched Sex and the City and Gossip Girl. I viewed NYC as this glamorous oasis with constant excitement, lights, fame, love, beauty and opportunity. And that is absolutely part of the multi-layered cake that is New York. But only part.
Now I know so much more about this place than I ever did.
Now I know Times Square is not the coolest part of the city and it’s actually a death trap full of tourists and guys with comedy show tickets waiting to rip you off.
Now I know that the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and 5th Avenue are beautiful, clean, and well-deservedly famous but some of the coolest, most chic people and places in the city can be found in SoHo, the West Village and Chelsea. That goes for the most expensive apartments too.
Now I know that having a rooftop with a view is an unbeatable perk to look for, whether in an apartment, club or a restaurant. But I also know it’s impressive to find an apartment with a dishwasher and laundry in the building.
Now I know the other boroughs have tons to offer, you just have to be willing to look.
Now I know that, yes, there are 1.5 million Starbucks in Manhattan but to find the best coffee, you have to go looking. And coffee is always necessary. Always.
Now I know that you fold your pizza when you eat it. That’s really the only way to do it.
Now I know that black and white never go out of style. If you ever want to push your fashion boundaries there is no better place than New York to try.
Now I know that New York has some of the best bakeries and desserts you’ll ever find. Items like the Cronut and the Cookie Shot at Dominique Ansel’s are truly an experience just to get your hands on. But sometimes all you need is a classic black and white cookie, a dessert that I now know New York loves.
Now I know that anywhere unlimited sushi and sake is offered is guaranteed to be two things: 1) loud and 2) incredibly fun.
Now I know that you don’t really have to wait for a walk sign to cross the street. In fact, doing that is kind of weird.
Now I know that it might be worth looking like a weird newbie checking the street before you walk in order to not be pummeled by the bikers that fly by without stopping for pedestrians.
Now I know that you should never really feel lost in New York because no matter where you are, there’s something incredible to see and someone else equally lost to see it with.
Now I know that people don’t talk on the Subway. Ever.
Now I know that making a plan is overrated. I spent more days than not just wandering around my favorite neighborhoods with no specific destination in mind and that is when I enjoyed myself the most and when I found the coolest spots.
Now I know that the best things come when you’re least expecting it or looking for it. Seeing celebrities, for example, always happened at the most random times in the most random places. New York will always surprise you.
Now I know that if I made it in New York starting from scratch, I really can make it anywhere (Jay Z knew what he was talking about). New York challenges you and pushes you to be tougher and ready for anything.
Now I know that if you don’t know what to do after college and you find yourself getting an internship offer in New York City and you see no possible way it could work out and you don’t really know what you’ll do after, there is only one thing you should do: make it work. Don’t even think twice.
Now I know that everything is scary until you do it. Then it’s just part of life you’ll look back on and always love that you did it.
A friend I met in New York shared a quote with me that I think perfectly describes the effect the city has on its explorers: “Once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.” – John Steinbeck
Now I know.