This city, as you may know, is not for the faint of heart.
It can be tough to thrive here once you’ve gotten past all of the fun parts of moving to the Big Apple, like the sightseeing, cultural immersion, amazing food, social life, and partying.
Quite similarly to my experience with living in London for the last couple years, after a honeymoon stage, reality sank in.
The city is expensive and, unless you are a tech wizard or a banker (or are lucky enough to have a rent stabilized apartment), it’s very difficult to sustain yourself here as a young professional or student (added challenge if you are an international student).
Now don’t get me wrong, even though people thought I was crazy to move to these places from ‘mellow’ California, there are aspects of this city that I truly love.
The skyline, especially when viewed from a rooftop, is always simply breath taking. The parks and rivers, including the many events and activities in them, have a tendency to be… enchanting, for lack of better words.
The level of multiculturalism/internationalism is simply untouchable in comparison to other major cities, perhaps with the exception of London. You can hear it in the many languages of passers-by on the crowded streets (or the music they might choose to play from their cars or shops). You can see it in the varying faces and cultural garb. You can taste it in the food in the many cultural enclaves within the five boroughs.
The ability to travel outside of the city is an easy, and sometimes necessary, perk. Two massive airports and different train stations, which also host budget bus lines like Megabus, make it so incredibly easy to go on a retreat – whether it’s on the east coast or intercontinental.
The obnoxious weather, during both summer and winter, and overall ‘intense’ environment can be a breeding ground for anxiety, yes… But many people from all over the world flock here anyway. The romanticized notion is that if they can make it here, they can make it anywhere (cue Sinatra).
My goal was to come here and try to stay for a year, and I’m almost there already (albeit, I’m just scraping along). My journey thus far has been a massive reflective experience as I’ve transitioned out of a graduate program and into my mid-twenties, with a bad case of wanderlust…
So far, within the changing of seasons, I’ve learned that it’s imperative to open up. This can be tough if you’re like me, somewhat of an introvert (or ‘ambivert’, depending on the situation). However, if you want to experience growth, it is important to look to others for help and social support and to return this friendly favor to them.
Soon enough, you will be able to parse out the baddies from the ‘good eggs.’ It’s ok to let your guard down a bit, since there tends to be more of the latter.
You might feel unique, but you need to show it more. Even with my current credentials, it’s been hard to build a career or even new relationships (both platonic and romantic) in this big city that is so overwhelmingly full of other incredibly unique people. I feel like my pride in who I am, which can be a good thing, gave me a slight sense of entitlement which made me forget that I have to prove myself to make myself stick out more.
Of course, even New York City isn’t a magical place where you instantaneously ‘find yourself.’ I’m sure that time and time again you’ve heard this sentiment expressed in different ways, and it is true that whatever you might be running from will naturally follow you here. People change over time and moving to this city can be a huge test of your own strength, which will probably gradually morph you to become more resilient and stronger in many ways, but this takes time and a ton of effort.
Nothing comes easy here.