10 Things I Learned From Living In New York City For A Summer

Erik Daniel Drost
Erik Daniel Drost

1. New York City is the only place in the world to feel so big and so small at the same time.

From the streets, to the shops, to the subways, millions find their niche in NYC. When I first arrived in the city, I took offense to the unfamiliar faces pushing me out of the way to earn a spot in a sardine-packed train cart. Every person on their own mission, with their own agenda and personal vendettas. But what’s so amazing about this city—you’re allowed to be selfish here. Everyone feels like they are the king of Manhattan, and that all of the others are just here taking up space. New York City dwellers truly believe that their mission is the only one that matters for the future survival and well being of Manhattan. But, until you figure out your mission, or when you decide to come down from your “New York City Invalidated Entitlement,” you realize you are one in a million who thinks that they are the center of this universe. And all those people you pushed on the train to get out of your way, they laugh at your entitlement, because they know you guys are one in the same. Same subway. Same dreams. Same city.

2. This really is the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.

Thanks for that, Alicia Keys. But really. I walk outside everyday, rain or shine, and just feel that buzz in the air. Every person on his or her personal mission motivates me to find my own passion and drive. I want to be a part of that hype. And if I can make this concrete jungle my playground, then can I claim a little piece of Manhattan to call home. And ultimately, make my dreams a reality.

3. You can always start over, but you can never escape.

On my first day of work, I waited to meet my parents at the Starbucks across from my office. Nerves took over my sanity, as I histrionically thought about taking my first steps into the real world. As I waited, anxiety turned into tears, and then wailing, and then a little scene in this little coffee shop in Times Square. I asked the stranger next to me if she had a napkin so I could wipe my face, and then my parents came, laughed at my unnecessary outburst, and sent me on my way to work. When the elevators opened to my office, I quickly realized the “napkin girl” from Starbucks was the new intern starting work that day as well. What are the chances? Well, this city is smaller than you think it is. And the same people will continue to cycle in and out of your life. So always wear a smile, learn to make fun of yourself, and admit to your faults. Because even though there are millions, you can’t escape.

4. Never closing yourself off is the only way to stay open.

Sounds obvious, I know, but it took me 20 years of my life to realize I am in control of the way I perceive stimulants around me. With so much going on in NYC, shrinking and passively going through the motions may feel like the safest way to live and survive here. But, if you allow yourself to embrace every foreign smell, sight, taste, and emotion, then you are truly living and defying limitations you have previously set for yourself.

5. New friends are fun friends.

One of my favorite parts of this summer has been forming new relationships with people in and outside of the work environment. Every new person brings a new story, a new experience, and a new lesson. I realize so much about myself just by allowing myself to be open to these strangers. And letting these strangers to earn a place in my heart has been a beautiful, unforgettable part of my summer.

6. Yoga.

It works. Never in my life have I taken so much Yoga. I discovered a studio here, Yoga to the People, which offers free/donation based classes to the public. There is nothing else I would be able to wake up at 6:20am for, and then be in class by 7am. I have finally discovered the power of breath. And how it applies to every part of my life. Anger, passion, and peace are all emotions dictated by the breath, and if we are in touch with those patterns, then we are more in control of our innermost selves. Upon initially starting the practice, I found it challenging to stay in the present moment. I grew upset with myself when I would fall out of a pose, or when my thoughts wondered to extraneous shortcomings. I have since discovered that being in touch with my breath unlocks patience, and I have found forgiveness in myself for not always being the best at everything. For if I was “the best”, then I’d have nothing to look forward to. And that makes for a pretty boring life.

7. Being yourself is the only way to survive in this city.

Every other type of person you could ever imagine is here, and is already taken, so you might as well proudly share what makes you special. But, while living here, I discovered that the hardest part of broadcasting your individuality to all of the millions here is that you first have to find out who you are. And what makes you special. And that’s pretty scary. But the beautiful part of taking that journey in NYC is that it is impossible to fail. You are always accepted amongst some group of people, and you will constantly be inspired by little signs that point you in the right direction to celebrating and sharing your light.

8. There is no “in” scene.

The “elite” twenty-somethings stand in these ridiculous lines and pay ridiculous money to get into these overrated clubs where the music is too loud to even feel your phone vibrate. So what’s the big deal? To see and be seen? Well, I can do that on the streets of New York, thank you. So I’m gonna opt out of meeting creeps who drop thousands to “pick up” chicks, and head to the bars or to a friends house where I can actually have a normal conversation. The “in” scene does not exist in the social ladder illusion of society… the “in” scene is where you feel comfortable to be yourself, make friends, and make memories.

9. Anything goes.

And that’s what’s so cool about celebrating my individuality. So one day I want to be a boho queen? And the next a preppy girl with a blazer? Okay, I can. Because everyone here is to into themselves to judge others. Sad as it sounds, no one really cares what you’re wearing. You’re here. In NYC. So you might as well make your stake or get out of the mess of people trying.

10. The only way NYC can let you down is if you allow it to.

Seriously—how could this city? I have never been in a place surrounded by so much inspiration, livelihood, and passion. From the private investors to the artists, New York provides a home for the broadest of spectrums. So if you do not like where you have found yourself, open your eyes, take a bold step, and get out there. You are not lost, just a little confused. But that happens in New York. Sometimes the things you come in searching for are not always the things you want to come out with. And that’s okay. That’s amazing actually. So change your mind. Be a little crazy. Stay open. Celebrate YOU. Because with so many people here celebrating life, NYC is one big party. And this city is not going to wait for you to invite yourself. The invitation is yours—so what are you waiting for? Take it. TC mark

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