It hit me on Friday as I was rushing (shocker!) to make my train home that spending so much time in New York City has given me a slightly different perspective on life than what some of my friends have. And whether you come to visit or to live, I definitely thing a trip to the ol' Big Apple should be on everyone's to-do list because of what your time here will teach you!
1. Anything is possible. And I don't even mean this in the "if I can make it there I'll make it anywhere," "concrete jungle where dreams are made of" way (even though that's also completely true). I mean that, in New York City, you can literally do anything. Want to get Thai food at 2 a.m.? Go for it. See some of the most esteemed works of art in the world and then get a tattoo in a sketchy shop? Sure. It's a sports fan's dream, the theater capital of the world, foodie paradise, fashionista heaven... I could go on. It's a great reminder that, if you want to do something... you've just gotta do it. Simple as that. Sky's the limit. Everything's out there. The only thing stopping you is you.
2. You are in charge of yourself. Even if you're in the city with a group of people, it's really up to you to make sure you don't lose them. Crowds don't care. People will pickpocket you (ughhh let's not talk about it). Nobody's going to offer you help -- you have to ask for it. I think the city gives you an incredible sense of independence: you don't need to rely on anyone or anything. No car? Cool (and great decision), take the subway. Subway isn't running? Walk. Don't know where you're going? Avenues run uptown/downtown and streets run east side/west side, so figure it out. You're not going to be coddled, but you're going to be able to handle it and you'll gain a great sense of self in the process.
3. Walk fast. And if you don't want to walk fast, get your slow butt out of the way so that people who do want to walk fast can walk fast. (If you ever wonder why I'm 5'2" but blowing past you on these short legs of mine, here's your answer. But for real, this is NOT a difficult concept. Slow walkers need to get. out. of. my. way.)
4. You are a very, very small cog in a very, very big wheel. This may make some people feel a little bit (or a lot) overwhelmed and lost, but I find it to be SO liberating. Why? Nobody cares! Wear that weird thing you want to wear, look like a fool sprinting to catch your train, give that rude stranger some side-eye, frolick through the fields in Central Park... you have a complete free pass to just be yourself, because even when you stick out, it just makes you a quirky footnote in this giant bizarre novel of a city. This holds true for anywhere (though I've never lived in a small town, so I can't speak for that). But really, the world isn't going to stop and look at you to cheer your successes or judge your failures, so just do your thing!
New York, I love you. Thanks for teaching me how to figure out a subway system and shove my way through a crowd and be my own person. See you again in less than a month! :)