New York City
When you pick up and move to NYC you think things are going to happen. You’re ready for what’s ahead — what folk lore has promised to a glamorously gritty good time. (Folk lore being TV and movies).
In mid August 2014, I showed up thoroughly confident and ready to win. But winning ain’t easy.
I dreamt my whole life of one day moving to New York. It’s the Mecca of culture, of art, of creativity and open mindedness.
It’s the only place I know of on the East Coast to make a [decent] living as a creative mind. The city has opportunities other places could only dream of.
I never met a comedy writer growing up in the exo-burbs of Northern Virginia. But last week I saw Amy Poehler on the street and I said hi and she said hi and smiled at me. Her personal assistant rushed her across the street, but she said hi to me. So I guess I met a comedy writer now.
Nah, I’m kidding. I didn’t meet her. That doesn’t count, I know. However, that does perfectly illustrate my next point.
You ain’t shit when you move to a city like New York.
And that’s the wake up call. Maybe you move here because you have a small inkling that you could be some shit–some good shit. You might’ve had a dream and your gut instinct brought you here.
Perhaps you wrapped this dream up in something acceptable and digestible for your family and friends, so they don’t think you’re crazy. You have a plan of action. Ideas for a job, people who might know of some housing, enough money for a brokers fee and/or food.
But you moved here for you–for your dream. For the 15 year old you that knew the suburbs were “wack,” as you still might affectionately describe them. You never quite fit in. You had a penchant for causing trouble, or you never caused any trouble at all and held out til you moved. To the city, it’s the only place for the likes of you.
Your interests drove you here.
And now you made it. You live somewhere (perhaps temporarily, possibly a couch), you ate something, you found some work (probably not yet the dream job — but A job). You’re finally here.
Perhaps the excitement of all this — hints of stability (maybe not yet?), a ridiculous amount of attractive people, smart people, interesting people. Dive bars with $5 beer and shot specials. People that are more insane than you, positioning you as somewhat normal. Cheap tacos, dumplings, and halal chicken rice. A sense of purpose and a fucking hustle that makes you feel glad to be alive.
Keep the end goal in mind, young love. Enjoy it all, take it in. Let it deep into your soul like the yoke of a sunny side egg that comforts you on tough mornings.
THE city will take you in and won’t give a fuck about you. You’ll be in the throes of the most sensitive time of your life, struggling to get by in a new place with as little as a half-baked sense of self, and people won’t give a fuck about you.
You’ll find this tough, at times. Especially when you want someone to care. When you’re just trying to learn, or you’re just trying to figure it all out, find some kind of validation that you’re doing the right thing and you feel deserving of being cut some slack. But the slack won’t be cut, kid.
They won’t cut it to you, because it wasn’t cut to them. This is a tough fucking place. It’s heartless in that way. But once you accept that and realize everyone is out for themselves, you’ll give less of yourself to the avenues that have a negative ROI.
You’ll give yourself to life that is deserving of your energy. In the long-term, this will be the foremost reason why you develop a stronger sense of self.
Then five, six years down the line—you’ll have that absolutely perfect “IDGAF” attitude because you’ll know who you are, won’t waste your time on bullshit and the things you want will come to you. That comedy writer job, that funny hairy-chested boyfriend, that community of likeminded souls you can talk with about life and aspirations at a pub or a coffee shop for hours on end. The support you wanted, and perhaps needed, so badly when you first moved to New York.
Well, at least that’s my guess. This is purely speculation, as I’m three months in and I’m assuming that’s a best case scenario.
I’m sure it can go very wrong, too. Instead of stable and self aware, you can become more insane and disengaged. Things like that. I don’t know how it works, but I have a sense of it from subway observations and the collective learnings of everything I’ve ever read, watched, and heard.
New York will chew you up and spit you out. It’s not the easiest place, but it’s the best. Not just for the food, and the fancy shops, and the fancy money that runs the elite. But for the very reason that people moved here for the same reason as you, therefore, you have a shot at making this dream a reality. Not just the selfish confines of it and the success you’ve defined as the end goal, but also for the very real life that happens when like-minded dreams collide and hard work, sweat, and passion are the currency for respect.
You can do it, too, young love. You can do it, too.
And now, a Suggested Soundtrack: