You Should Stay In New York City

Dear You,
So you told me that you thought about leaving New York. Which, I suppose, plenty of transplants think of doing. It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last.

But these waves of thoughts were different than before. It was triggered when your sister had her baby, her first child and your first nephew, and you weren’t there. Instead, you spent that Friday checking mousetraps. You met your nephew via Skype. It has also been officially a year since you’ve been here and you’ve reevaluated the facts.

Living in Bed-Stuy is precisely what one could have assumed living in Bed-Stuy to be like, just with more cat-calls from tough guys in groups wondering why you’re so rude for not welcoming their advances. Never has being around so many made you feel so alone. You thought you would have found your Miranda and Charlotte by now, not watching them on DVD wondering how a show could get so much right and wrong in the same season. ?    

Every day it becomes clearer that New York is the greatest place to be when you matter but it’s the worst place to be when you don’t. Around every corner is a better apartment, or a better happy hour, or all the makings of a wonderful life you wish you had.

But I don’t think you should leave New York.

At least, not yet.

In your heart, you know you were not meant for an ordinary life. You flourish in a life surrounded by innovators and passionate people. You found that here.

There’s a life for you back home. It was pre-wrapped for you from birth. It’s comfortable, featuring your friends, your family, your car. It all sits waiting for you like a lottery ticket with the winning numbers unscratched. It’s tempting, no doubt.

There’s nothing magical about New York City. It is an amazing place just as there are amazing places everywhere, each with its own strengths and opportunities and disadvantages. You could have discovered and followed your passions in dozens of cities or towns. But for you, you knew in your heart that place was New York. And so you came.

Your nephew won’t ever remember you weren’t there for his birth. But one day you might find he’ll remember the time he visited his favorite aunt up north. The one who left home to make her name is the greatest place to make a name.

I hope you find solidarity knowing you are like so many others. You’re a special kind of person, the kind who decided to choose what their destiny would be, not have it laid out for them. Their New York might be in Los Angeles. Or Nashville. Or a sustainable farm in South America. That isn’t the point. The point is you didn’t commit to change because this city would make you the woman you wanted to be. You knew the woman you were. You know the woman you demanded yourself to become, and she belonged in New York.

Remember that CD you bought from those subway musicians at Lorimer? You paid ten dollars for only 5 songs. I told you that was a rip-off. You disagreed. You liked their music and wanted to support them in a simple way. You decided if those guys make their name outside of the subway system, you said you’d be glad to have been there when they had only the backs of people waiting for the next G train. ?     

It is very possible that the financial, emotional, and physical toll this move to New York took on you will not be worth it. It is very possible that you will go home and resume being yourself as you would have otherwise been, understanding the life you had imagined isn’t a fairy tale. But when it comes to your success, I’d put ten dollars on you.

And I’d put ten dollars on your success happening here.

— Robert TC mark


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  • ruby

    i love you, robert

  • Katerina

    So relevant to my life right now. 

  • Lee

    definitely have had these thoughts, but you’ve changed my mind!

  • Lindsmef

    This is so lovely!

  • Camille DeMere

    robwoh, you make me smile. this is so heartfelt and perfect.

  • Liz

    i like it. 

  • sigh.

    Ah, right. This is why we’re all flat-broke failures. This is why this overly expensive cattle-car city is still over-glorified.

    • Guest


      Not all of us.

  • Andy

    this is good

  • Guest

     thank you for this.

  • Briana

    I hate the person to whom this piece is addressed.

    • Hannah

      Mee too. 

    • Why

      Was this at ALL necessary?

  • zlady6

    *in* the greatest place to make a name, i think.

  • Madicaruso

    As a college student in New York, trying to find my way and having barely enough money to get me by, this speaks to me. Thank you! I know I am meant to be here. 

  • Meghan

    Kind of touched me in my soft spot

  • Melissalauren6

    Thank you.  London is my New York.  It’s nice to be reminded why I uprooted my life in California to come here.  

  • Luis Diaz08

    The tricky thing is when you were born and raised in this urban jungle and you want to escape

  • Guestropod


    just bail

  • Daily TC Reader

    There are 8 million people in NYC. How on Earth do people think that this is THE city to “make it?” If it’s not NYC, then it’s LA and it all just doesn’t make sense. I was born and raised in NYC and as much as I love this city, it is not the be all and end all if you’re trying to “make it.” The world is changing every day and though there are many opportunities in New York, there are many opportunities elsewhere as well. 

    • Robert Wohner

      This is the kind of comment that makes a writer sigh or cry. We are 100 percent agreed. As I said, “There’s nothing magical about New York City. It is an amazing place just as there are amazing places everywhere, each with its own strengths and opportunities and disadvantages. You could have discovered and followed your passions in dozens of cities or towns. But for you, you knew in your heart that place was New York. And so you came.”

    • Josh (조쉬)

      Close reading fail

  • Caroline

    i wonder how many people come and leave nyc each year.

  • Mrbackslap

    The woman inside this girl is strong.  She may not know yet that nothing is more powerful than looking up at the hill you just crossed, but soon she will.  Only a person who has done this can know the pride of seeing the lows they have risen from and the unknown strength they had inside to make them rise.  I believe this girl in particular even realizes the endurance to go on is what gives humans depth.  It is no wonder she thrives off the determination and courage she sees in her idols.  She is lucky to have a friend like you.  

  • kay

    Trading in LA for NY next month. After reading this, I’m even more so convinced that it’s where I need to be. For now.

  • Nguyen Phuong Thu

    Thank you.

  • S

    I love New York City! I’m waiting to get back in a couple of months for good :) Thank you for this amazing piece, it’s just what I needed as a pick-me-up :D

  • Kareem Ahmed

    I’m moving there on Tuesday. Let’s hang out.

  • PussinBoots

     Amazing work, your best yet, I think.   (P.S… the curious audience wants to know … what’s your NYC?) 

  • Top

    NYC — a filthy overcrowded shithole full of obnoxious strivers who think they’re bigshots.  A disgusting, soulless, cynical, passive-aggressive mentality fueled by Wall Street, the largest crime-scene in the world.   Bernie Madoff is New York City personified. 

    • Deemiano

      your crazy lol

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