You don’t need New York.
There’s a mistaken notion that you have to go to New York. Like salmon going upstream, college graduates flock to (un)paid internships in New York with their ambitions and dreams burning bright in front of them.
But you don’t need New York. New York needs you
No, it doesn’t care about you, but it needs you all the same. See, New York needs you the way a body needs calories. It needs to use you, to burn you, to devour and replace you like the food you are. New York is a monster, and like all great monsters, it comes with a mythology. There is a glorification, praise and even worship of the beast. But take it from a man within its stomach; you don’t need this.
That’s not to say you don’t want it. You might; you really might. But it’s not a given, some binary rite of passage all cool/young/attractive people have to go through or forfeit those claims forever. It’s just a city that might work, or it might not.
Let’s talk about cities. Here are some cities I chose, off the top of my head, as potentially better places for you- if you liked New York, Amazon would say, consider: Boston, Toronto, Portland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver, Washington D.C, Seattle, Montreal, Chicago or Austin. Write those down, and remember that each of those cities have their own distinct sections and vibes. Each of those cities have multiple ‘cities’ within them: even for just Boston, you could live around Harvard, Seaport, Allston, Fenway, Davis or a myriad of other legitimate options as a cool young something. Extrapolate that out for the other cities and that’s a ton of options. That’s excluding New York, Los Angeles, and even San Francisco as too intense and expensive and Miami because Miami is awful, never even visit.
But New Yorkkkkkk, you say. New Yorkkkkkkkkk.
Fine. Let’s talk about New York.
New York is the best. Regardless of your facts, of your life, of your happiness and sanity and humanity, it is the best, and you will worship it like a savage God. You will accept it with a devoted fatality to it. You will pay a thousand dollars for a small apartment in a mediocre area, and you will grow anxious from the energy, unresolved in the air. You will not have a living room because there is no living there. There is only doing. You will buy eight dollar drinks, more drinks, still more because that is what you do. You will be doing cool impressive things with cool impressive circles. Everyone will be vaguely close to a big break, but never quite make it, leading everyone to question, years later, their definitions of “close,” “big” and “break.” Your parents will subsidize your rent. You will be miserable and you will wear that misery as pride as though happiness and contentment anywhere else makes you some sort of rube hick.
Don’t believe it.
You don’t need New York to make you matter. We live in the age of the internet, of instant travel, communication and access. You can get sushi and late night food everywhere. You can visit New York, and even visit often, but if you live there, a toxicity will well up inside you that leaves you bitter and cruel in ways you barely notice. You will wish death upon those in your path; in crowded trains, in crowded bars, performing in better venues than you. Ambition curdles. Don’t let that evil grow.
Some of you might doubt me, might chuckle, might assume I just couldn’t hack it here…and I literally lost my train of thought. It’s worth sharing that I got mad, actually mad, even imagining that you might chuckle, up there. I actually got worked up. I got mad even picturing the hypothetical doubt you’d have and actually had to cut a paragraph of profane threats. That’s because I’m caffeinated and ambitious and hungry, fucking starving for success. Listen carefully: I am a starving dog, torn between jittery panic I shield with a reckless, sneering ego. I am desperate for victory and defined by “maybes” and I do not have the peace of mind to allow any slight, real or imagined, to come between me and what I want. I am never full, never satisfied, never at rest, because whatever you have here, it’s what you don’t that defines you here. It is the city that never sleeps, because it can’t rest, can’t breathe, and that desperation and momentum spins madly, wildly, until you collapse, dazed and broke into a city that’s meant for actual human beings three years later.
That’s what New York does to you.