4 Things People Don’t Tell You About New York

I recently moved from Chicago to New York to pursue my dream of being a fashion journalist. Fun, right? I thought so. Until I arrived and realized that nothing anyone told me about living in New York was true. OR that if they had divulged personal experiences, they left out the bad stuff, like a jerk. Since I find it appalling that people have been ensconced in this charade for years, I thought I’d expose some of these lies and share a few things I wish people would have told me before I moved.

1. People are lying if they tell you they have a friend that will get you a job.

Everyone will tell you that they have a friend in your field who can “totally help you out.” But they’re probably not referring to an actual friend as much as they are the idea of someone they once met. Strung along by these threads of false hope, you’ll say things to people like, “Can you believe that my friend knows someone who worked at Vogue? They told me to send them my resume and they’d pass it off to their friend who will try and send it to the editor. I’m practically in!”

You’re not in. In fact, you’re worse off than before, because while you think you have all these new connections and that it’s only a matter of time before your big break comes, you’re actually just sitting in a dark room alone holding a gun to your head while your dream taunts you by doing a jig in the corner. News flash, home skillet: You’ve just spent two months relying on the idea of someone else’s friends and you’re the sitting duck with a Master’s degree, an empty bank account and no job.

2. If you haven’t saved every bit of paperwork pertaining to your life ever, you will not qualify for an apartment in NYC.

I was fully prepared to live in a closet when I moved here. What I wasn’t expecting was that I’d have to have pay stubs from the job I didn’t have because I JUST MOVED HERE, that I would need proof of employment for said non-existent job, that I’d have to bring my parents into my misery by using their bank statements, pay stubs, proof of employment and credit checks just to secure an apartment for myself (a 26-year-old woman). That no-fee apartments always have fees; that the only way to actually find an apartment is by going with a broker, which costs thousands more dollars than what you ever planned to spend; that you will lose your first two apartments the broker finds you, and when you finally have one he’ll call you, screaming at you to get to his office right now with $5000 or you’ll never live anywhere again; and that you’ll spend so much time trying to look for and secure your apartment, you won’t have time for a job. Leaving you two months into your tenure in NYC with a home and literally zero dollars with which to decorate or stock it with food.

3. People are lying if they tell you that your first year in New York will be really hard.

Let me tell you a story. The other day, my roommate Britany and I endured an abysmal five-hour apartment search in Brooklyn that resulted in us not seeing the inside of a single apartment. We love movies, so we thought we’d end the day on a high note with a night at the theater. Happily enjoying our large popcorn, contraband wine and Straw Dogs, we’re right at the part where things are getting good and the screen goes black. Britany goes to see what’s happening and I — a victim of New York, a broken human — start crying, trying to make sure she doesn’t see and discover I’m so low that I’m crying because our movie lost power. I end up finding her crying in the lobby, and when the manager tries to give us free passes we hit rock bottom, sobbing to him about how badly we needed this movie and could he give us extra free passes because this is a really bad day? In a moment for him that must have felt like some weird dream, he gave us one promotional Straw Dogs baseball cap to share, and said he hopes things get better.

I know hard. My parents got divorced when I was 12 and I retreated into a den of brown lipstick and JNCOs. I once had a boyfriend who was secretly engaged to another woman until it wasn’t a secret and just my crappy life. But never have I publicly disgraced my own self and been plied into submission with a baseball cap. Hard? Try “the lowest 365 days of your life.”

4. Everyone looks better than you, and is doing better than you. Always.

Children in New York look better than I do. They are wearing way more expensive clothing and probably get weekly blowouts. I, meanwhile, have decided to “grow out my hair” which really means that I’m pretending like my inability to afford a haircut is a choice. I have never seen so many people at one time who look like they’ve just walked out of an editorial — while I have ankles, and a bunion, covered in band-aids to protect my blistered stumps. Every time I smile big and say “Thank you so much!” I feel so blindly Midwestern that I want to smack my own self in the face. I’ve been wearing more makeup to hide the bags under my eyes (which now reach my chin), and realized how badly that was backfiring when a friend said the other night that I should lay off the foundation.

At least I have my new Straw Dogs cap for when I want to hide my bloodshot eyes while buying my hangover everything bagel. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Chris Isherwood

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