1. Just because someone doesn’t ask “How’s ye mama and ‘eeeem?” (a Southerner will hear that in just the right way when reading it) doesn’t mean that they are rude or careless. You came to New York for a reason, and you’re hustling to get it. Almost every other person here is in it to win it, and it’s easy to get caught up in that. It only takes a few seconds of Southern charm to find out what a stranger is doing here or how “his mama and ‘eeeeem” are if you really want to know. Don’t let the city make you cold, and don’t assume that it’s already done so to anyone else.
2. While there’s no one like a Southern gentleman, New York is the full of open-minded, educated men who welcome your differences, and will most likely not roll their eyes at the terms “feminist,” “gun control,” or “Barack Obama.” They will probably never expect you to do the brunt of the housework either, and that is A-Ok with me!
3. After the newness of the city wears off, it’s easy to romanticize things about home, but you know in your heart of hearts that if you were at home, you’d be on someone’s couch twiddling your thumbs trying to find something to do. There is always, always, something to do here. If you’re bored, it’s your own damn fault.
4. I am 25 years old, not married, and I don’t have kids. And no one says anything to me about it. In fact, I think if I were to be married, I’d be the oddball. Which is comforting. I can go to church without Mrs. Barbara Sue leaning over the aisle to ask if I have any husband candidates, which is always you know, refreshing.
5. Southern women are known for their strength, but New York forces you to put that do-it-yourself attitude into action. There is no boyfriend or father to come and change that tire, kill the rodent in your apartment, or fight off the asshole that’s screaming obscenities in the street. There’s no car to carry your things, so get ready to build up those biceps. But you’re a better woman for it, because not only were you raised to take care of yourself, but now you know you can actually do it!
6. We all grew up watching Sex and the City and categorizing ourselves as a Miranda, Carrie, Samantha, or Charlotte, and placing our friends in the other slots. Living in New York teaches you what a friendship like that really means. I live with three other girls, and we rely on each other as family in this city. I have grown closer to them in a year than I have to people I’ve known my whole life. And for the record, I’m a Carrie.
7. Brunch is a thing. And it’s a beautiful thing. Meals happen much later in New York. You won’t hear mama hollering “Dinner time” at 6:30, but you will wait in line at your favorite brunch spot at 2:00 for your first meal of the day, and it will be worth it.
8. You grew up in a place of grass and sunshine, galore! You never had to worry about where you’d catch your next lightning bug or your next ray of sunshine, but there is no feeling like that of rolling in the grass of Sheep’s Meadow for the first time when the bitter cold finally says goodbye and Springtime rolls around. You’ll be surrounded by hundreds of New Yorkers riding bicycles, yoga posing, book reading, and just sunshine dwelling, and it will be lovely. No one in New York tries to hide excitement for a good park day.
9. You will learn to love dining alone. This goes along with the independent thing. Not only will you learn to be ok with doing things alone, you will crave that alone time. Alone time becomes an escape, and in turn, you figure out that you’re in pretty freaking good company.
10. Nobody has to know what you’re doing. Nobody. Your mom’s Sunday school teacher’s cousin’s uncle’s piano teacher is not going to spread word about how drunk and wild you got in Meatpacking on Friday night. This creates too much freedom for someone who was raised in that type of environment, but it teaches a good lesson. You’ll learn to do the things that are right for you because they make you feel good, and not because Suzie’s mom’s brother’s pool guy is going to judge you and tell your grandma.
11. There’s a common misconception that Southerners only accept other Southerners, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I did, however, know the same people from the day I was born until the day I left. In some way, that’s a beautiful thing, but I had never met a Jewish person when I moved to New York. It’s not by fault of the South that New York is the melting pot of the world. It just is. You’ll meet people of all nationalities, personalities, and food truck-cravings. Diversity is a wonderful thing, and if you want to know more, New York is the place to be.
12. Art is everywhere, as are dreams. People come to New York to be writers, actors, dancers, etc. I grew up thinking I’d be a teacher, nurse, or salesperson because those were the options I felt I was given. All those things that you scoffed at in middle school because you started believing they weren’t actual careers, yeah, those things are happening in New York. People want ‘em. Bad. And they’re doing whatever it takes to get them. Sometimes you can just stand still and watch the people walk by, and you can see it all over their faces. I swear it will bring you to tears. Artists, starving for something much greater than food.
13. You will learn to appreciate, more than anything, visits home and the people that you were blessed enough to grow up around. You will forget that “gotta get outta here” mentality you had before you headed to NYC. Home is your new sweet escape, full of your best memories and your favorite people. Consider yourself the luckiest to have grown up where you did. The South is the best place in the world, and even though maybe you weren’t meant to dwell there forever, you know home is where the heart is!