When will you feel like a New Yorker? NYTimes says – when you become a jerk.
I’m kind of kidding. But. . .not entirely. The Times ran an interesting article this week on how long it takes people to feel like New York is their home. This of course makes one think about what home means – and what New York means in turn. What defines New York when compared to, say, Oklahoma or Seattle.
Of course, I have my own opinions, but the Times article was chock full of quotes about people feeling lost and dissatisfied with the abrasiveness of this city. It was predominantly negative – which doesn’t sound like any type of home I’d want to be a part of. Their thesis was essentially that newcomers need to buck up quick and develop a tough skin just in order to survive. One of the people quoted says, “It took a year,” but now, at last, she is starting to feel connected with what she describes as “this terrifying city.”
The thing is, I have to ask myself, why would anyone want to move here if it is so horrible, so terrifying, as she says? I can’t image 70,000 + bright young things would be so masochistic. So, I will tell you, gentle blog readers, what I can imagine. A place filled with successful, driven young people, searching for their America. And it’s that search that’s so hard and so stressful that at the end of the day, a smile is hard to come by. I love the Midwest; I’m a Chicagoan for life, but the people there can afford to be friendlier than the people here. They’re not reaching for dreams as high as skyscrapers. And, I’m just as guilty as the people quoted in this article because sometimes this city gets me down. It is DRAG. But you don’t need to lose yourself in order to find it. The first few weeks I was here, I was amazed at how nice everyone was. Why? Because I was nice to them first. And I still am – nice when walking around, taking the subway, and living the day to day.
What can you do? Remember that while you are here to achieve, you are also here to be happy. Do pursue new activities and new friends, and be open when people reach out to you. Remember when you were a freshman in college and you accepted every social invitation because it was the thing to do? It’s still the thing to do – we just have more boring things and more responsibilities to get in the way. It’s amazing how far a smile can go.
I don’t believe that being a New Yorker means being hardened and so driven that one forgets her humanity. I think New York is whatever you want it to be – that is the magic of this urban jungle – why not make it a home?