Everyone should live in New York City at some point in their life. It forces you to look closely at who you are, what you want, and why you want it. Because in a dog-eat-dog world, New York City is the largest breed of them all. Survival of the fittest is an understatement when it comes to finding your groove here. In this spirit, I’ve written down 10 suggestions for newcomers. My credibility: I moved here July 1, 2013 and I am STILL ALIVE. On top of being alive, I am happy. So proceed with caution: The following pointers may induce an urgent desire to uproot and relocate to this big ol’ apple:
1. THERE IS A RUMOR OUT THERE THAT IT’S NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO HAIL A TAXI.
I’m here to quell that rumor. The TRUTH is: It is near impossible to hail an *occupied* taxi. Tourists do not know the difference between the available / unavailable cabs– kind of like a loveblind teenager creepily breathing behind Helga Pataki on the schoolbus (ehem, Generation Y). Have no fear. There is a little box with numbers on it that sits atop the car. When this is lit up– DING DING DING– the cab is free!
2. IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE AS HARD AS YOU THINK IT WILL BE.
An amazing mentor of mine enlightened me to this sweet and simple truth (note to self: write article about the importance of having a mentor). You don’t need to be a starving artist. You don’t even need to be a slightly-less-than full artist. And this includes all you blossoming young bankers out there, perhaps less concerned with buying groceries but stressed about your new, frenetic lifestyle. Things are often not as bad as our brains anticipate them to be. New York City is no different. The key to avoiding crushing hardship, you ask? The answer is simple: Create a network. That way, when life starts to taste hard you get to phone a friend/colleague/mentor/cohort/magician and reach out for help. This may mean finding a listening ear or it may mean finding another part-time job via network connection. Remember that there are people in your life who are willing to help you. All you need to do is ask.
3. SOME DAYS YOU WILL CRY…
What? Don’t look at me like that. It’s true! I said it didn’t need to be painfully hard but listen, it’s freaking New York City. There are going to be some hard times! There will be moments you’ll feel defeated/downtrodden/swimming in a sea of city madness. And that is okay. Because as soon as you are walking and happen to look up and see the most beautiful beam of sunlight stretching across a particularly elegant building, you’ll smile again. This is a city abound with marvelous beauty. When you are feeling blue, take a deep breath and let yourself marvel. No matter how bad your day was, at the end of the day you live in New York City. That means that ANYTHING can happen tomorrow to change your circumstances and more importantly– your perspective.
4. THIS CITY IS JUST AS MUCH YOURS AS ANYONE ELSE’S.
It doesn’t matter that you are new. It doesn’t matter that you have to turn around because you thought you were walking uptown but really you were walking downtown. Who cares? You probably got to notice a cool store/restaurant/art exhibit/random flea market that you wouldn’t have seen if you had gone the “right” way toward your destination. No matter who you are, where you are from, what you have done until this point– this city, is yours.
5. DOWNLOAD HOPSTOP FOR YOUR SMARTPHONE.
6. NEVER ALLOW YOURSELF TO BECOME JADED.
Did you like Times Square before moving here? Awesome. It really is AWE. SOME. Don’t thrive in a place of, “ughhh, now that I live here I’m too cool to enjoy Times Square because the tourists are slow walkers blah blah blah.” Polish up your rose colored glasses and recognize that Times Square and all the other “touristy” locations attract tourists for a reason. They are truly awe inducing American landmarks rife with culture and history.
7. REMEMBER TO LOOK UP.
The longer you live here, the more you will fall into a routine way of living. One day you’ll suddenly know how to get where you are going. Don’t let that deter you from seeing what’s in front of you. You didn’t move to the greatest city in the world so you could walk through Bryant Park looking down at your shoelaces. Look up toward the spires and drink it all in.
8. GET AN AMAZING PAIR OF SHOES.
Really. I know most supportive shoes look a bit mom-ish (sorry moms) but you need to support your arches. Remember how I said it’s a dog-eat-dog world? Well if your dogs are barkin’ it will be that much harder to keep fighting the good fight. Ya dig?
9. Speaking of moms, CALL YOUR PARENTS.
They want to hear from you. This is especially if they believe that New York City is where people go to fall into a life of sexual misgivings and crime. Call them and let them know a) you are not a drug dealer and b) the cockroaches in your apartment aren’t that bad, in fact you named one Larry.
10. Finally, know this: ANYONE CAN MOVE HERE, BUT NOT JUST ANYONE DOES.
Some people are afraid. Some people call it too dirty, or too busy, or too industrial. Let them say those things. Because you didn’t move here to be comfortable and calm and clean all the time. You moved here to feel excitement. You moved here to grow. You moved here to take a step outside of your comfort zone. You moved here to be part of the mess and to add your own pile to it. New York City is for the magic seekers and the magic makers. If this sounds like you… Well, what are you waiting for? ✰✰