Allow me to date myself real quick, I graduated from college four years ago this month. That's right, yours truly was a member of the class of 2011. It was a nerve-wracking yet hopeful time, when I was really proud of what I'd accomplished, but for the first time in my life had no idea what was coming next.
While I was already in NYC, there are thousands of recent college grads who flock here every year to learn the lessons I've learned over the past four years and to carve out a little space in the city that is all their own.
This post is for those of you who have just left the comforts of college and are NYC bound... although some of this applies to life in general, so do with it what you will.
So, without further ado here is my 4 years post-grad New York wisdom for you.
- You will throw up in public- I'm just going to put it right out there for you, most people I know, within the first 2 years of living here totally puke in public. I've done it twice, neither time was alcohol induced. The point is, as a New Yorker, you'll live way more of your life in public than most other cities: we walk everywhere, take the subway, and our apartments are tiny, so we typically spend our relaxing time in public spaces. Eventually you'll either drink too much, get the stomach flu, or food poisoning, and have to hurl on the sidewalk.
- Carry an Umbrella EVERYWHERE- In the Spring and Summer you truly never know when the skies will just open up or a heat burst will occur and the winter is just a disaster. Again, you will be living way more of your life in public than before, so you'll want to have an umbrella either in your desk at work or in your bag. Or, if you don't want to carry any more than you will already be carrying make sure to have Umbrella- The Simplest Weather Forecast on your phone. Its an app that sends you an alert on days when you'll need to bring an umbrella. The weather here is weird and it will save you from buying a crappy $5 umbrella from a bodega that will last exactly one storm. Also buy a good umbrella (or wait for someone to leave on on the subway).
- You Will Likely Have an Abusive Relationship with The City- New York is not the easiest place in the world to live. It tends to have waves of beating you up emotionally (sometimes physically) and then all of a sudden it will do something wonderful, like give you the most gorgeous sunset, or an amazing job, or an exceptionally handsome guy on the subway that you get to just slyly stare at and and enjoy for a half hour (what? I've definitely never done that). In those moments you'll think "yeah, now I've got this New York thing. Everything is going to be awesome!" And then you'll probably get tidal waved* by a taxi. Strangely enough these waves of abuse happen collectively. It's often referred to as the city's mood. Note: Tidal Waving is when a car drives through a puddle on a corner and it splashes you in a giant wave of nasty.
- The City Works- This was actually told to me by one of my favorite people on earth just before I moved here. He told me, "You might think people are being rude, or too direct, or not considerate, they aren't being any of those things, they are just making it work". New York has the reputation of being rude, and it is lacking in the general politeness of smaller towns, but you will get what you need and it will happen efficiently. People here ask for what they want, tell you what they are going to do, and they do things that make sense. Take, for example, our complete eschewing of the notion of jaywalking being irresponsible: if no cars are coming, it's basically insane to wait on a corner for a light to tell you you can go. If you just behave like a grown-up and look both ways before crossing the street, you can clear a space on a street corner for one of the 9 million other people who are here while getting where you need to go a little quicker! It's a win, win, don't let it hurt your feelings.
- If You Can Make it Here, You'll Make it Anywhere- When I was a wee one and heard Frank Sinatra sing that line in "New York, New York" I thought he meant that if you can make it to the top of your field in New York and have the penthouse on Central Park West you'll obviously be fine in any other city. This is not what he meant. What he meant was, if you can make a life here: get a job, an apartment, be able to feed yourself, and pay all your bills... in other words if you can make it to baseline living here, you can make that happen anywhere. New York is not easy. To quote Liz Lemon quoting a Real Housewife, "She is a thug in a cocktail dress." The city is shiny and glittery with the promise of everything under the sun, but it makes you work for it in ways other cities don't. Celebrate your little victories, they are hard won and you deserve to do some celebrating after you land that No Fee Studio Apartment... even if it is lacking an actual kitchen.
So now, recent college grad/future New Yorker, I hope I haven't scared you too much and I hope you'll approach this advice like you should approach everything in the city, with the appropriate amount of caution and respect :-p