The 50 Life Lessons New York City Has Taught Me

by Paul Hudson

New York City has a reputation for a number of things -- and being one of the most eye-opening places in the world is definitely one of them. NYC is the mecca for crazies, and any person who has lived here for long enough has learned his fair share of lessons.

NYC is a crash course in life, and any proper New Yorker has become jaded over the course of their tenure in the city. That being said, this city is one of (if not the) greatest cities in the world and has taught me some of the most important, valuable and beautiful things this world has to offer. Simply put: there's no place like it.

Here are the 50 Things New York City Has Taught Me:

1. We take houses for granted.

I never appreciated the airiness of the house I grew up in until I moved to Manhattan. I always lucked out with my apartments, but some apartments that I visited were basically glorified closets. Your living environment affects you more than you think. If you can afford to spend that extra dollar for a bigger place, then do so. Or consider moving to Brooklyn.

2. You can't live with just anyone.

I look at my living experience in New York as a practice marriage. Living with other people is more difficult than most people first believe. Even when you think that you know someone very well before you shack up together, you will most certainly be surprised what you still manage to learn about them once they move in. You may very well find yourself living with someone that feels like a complete stranger. I have several friends who swear they had roommates that stole jewelry and/or cash from them. Your future spouse hopefully wont' be robbing you blind, but that won't mean that living with them will be a breeze either.

3. Most people won't think twice about taking advantage of you.

I'd like to believe that most people are good people at their cores. However, many people have skewed ideas of what is ethically permissible and what is not. Life teaches us all the same lessons, but we interpret them differently. What it comes down to is that everyone is looking out for themselves first. If someone feels that they can benefit from you and can somehow justify doing so, then they will.

4. Money makes your life better.

Money doesn't buy happiness…but it'll provide the down payment. You need money in order to get the basics that you need to survive, like food, water, clothing, a place to sleep… But the basics simply aren't enough. We want to experience all that life has to offer. We want to live in nice apartments, go to dinner at nice places and to travel the world. Out of all the cities in the world, I believe New York requires the most spending money to experience it fully.

5. You're not alone.

Whenever you are feeling lonely, you can simply look out your window and see dozens of people walking around and living their lives. If you wanted to, you could go over and introduce yourself to any one of them.

6. You are alone.

New York can be an intimidating place. Even though there are plenty of people to meet and mingle with, approaching them isn't always easy. Lots of people in NYC are on the defensive and aren't open to chatting with strangers. This seems to slowly be changing, as the streets are literally becoming safer, but nevertheless everyone is living their own lives and won't always be willing to share theirs with you. Even those you consider to be your friends are likely to drift off on their own or with different groups from time to time, leaving you on your lonesome. If it's true for New York, then it's true for life.

7. Weekends are for suckers.

If you are going to party in the City then it's best avoid the weekends — unless you are going to Williamsburg. In Manhattan, the weekend crowd is dominantly bridge and tunnel — you'll get a bunch of teeny bobbers and frat boys. The real debauchery goes down Sunday-Wednesday. Rest on Thursday and then find somewhere decent outside the island for Friday and Saturday.

8. Gay guys know how to party.

There ain't no party like a sausage party. Seriously, the most fun I ever had going out was with my group of gay boys. They always know the best parties with the best music and will undoubtedly have a bottle or two to share. Also, being the only straight guy in a club full of gay men and a dozen or so straight women are pretty good odds — as long as you can keep the boys off you. I literally have had women come up to me to tell me they wished I were straight. Then when I told them it was their lucky day, they'd ask me to prove it. Need I say more?

9. Only an idiot will pay to get into a club or pay for a bottle.

Promoters, promoters, promoters — they're everywhere. If you want to get in for 100% and drink for free, then get to know some. As long as you can bring at least one sexy woman, then you'll have no problems.

10. If people think you have money, they'll ask you for it.

I've seen guys go up to bouncers at clubs wearing suits — you know, the finance types. What does the bouncer do 3 out of 4 times? Tell them they need to get a table and buy some bottles. Almost every time. When people think you have money, then they will try to take advantage of you. They figure that it's all right because you can afford it.

11. No woman will say no to a fully packed bowl.

If she smokes and you know she smokes, she won't say no to coming over to light up. Done deal.

12. “Want to watch a movie?” actually does work.

Most girls are clear on what they want and will let you know. If they are down for some unadulterated fornication, then asking them to watch a movie is a great way to 'hint' at it.

13. Apparently all men go out to get laid.

When guys go out, they go out to either get drunk or to get laid — usually both. There really is no in between.

14. Apparently most women don't go out to get laid.

Women, on the other hand, seem to like to go out for the specific purpose of not getting laid. Sometimes it almost seems like a taunt… but hey, you can't hold it against them. Women are likely to go out to hang with the girls or to dance around a bonfire of unlit purses.

15. Price is not an issue if the cocktail is good enough.

Prices in NYC are high no matter what market we're talking about. A bar will pay $25 for a bottle and then charge $14 for a mixed drink. Unfortunately, owners have no choice if they want to be able to keep up with overhead and still make a nice profit. If you're going to do something, then do it well, so that you can charge ridiculous prices; people will buy it.

16. The restaurant business is brutal.

Customers can be a pain in the ass. The staff is almost always a pain in the ass. Owning or managing a restaurant in Manhattan is by no means easy. NYC manages to make even the simplest of takes difficult — thank you NYC Department of Health and Sanitation. The stress brings many owner/managers to drink heavily or to snort like a fiend.

On the up side, these people are good to know because they will always hook it up if you befriend them — no one can say no to some free tapas — and are also a lot of fun to party with. They go hard.

17. Mexicans work their asses off.

Say and believe what you will, but the Mexicans that work in New York City have to be one of the hardest working groups of people in the world. They will work ridiculous hours a week, doing the jobs that no one really wants for low wages. I had the pleasure of working with many of them and have great respect for their the courage to come to New York, live in sh*tty conditions and send money back to their families.

18. Most people are incompetent servers.

I have worked every position there is in a restaurant and have found serving to be the easiest — with the greatest money to stress and responsibility ratio. Nevertheless, most servers are very bad. It's not that their job is difficult; they just don't care enough to try. They don't care about the business because it isn't theirs; they're just trying to make a paycheck. People don't care about other people's businesses. You have to care enough to make up for your entire staff.

19. The subway never works when you need it to.

Whenever you are already running late, expect the subway to make it a whole lot worse. Always plan for the worst-case scenario.

20. If you're going to take a bus, you're most likely better off walking.

The bus system in New York is fine when going uptown or downtown, but crosstown is a nightmare. You may as well walk because you'll get to where you need to go faster.

21. Sometimes they walk and talk like women, but have penises.

I have never been so unfortunate as to have mistaken a him for a her, but I know people that have. It's embarrassing to say the least. The truth is that some men make prettier women than some women. Know your company.

22. Sex is never free.

Hooker or not, you are going to pay to have sex with her. Last night I spent $200 on drinks and dinner, a.k.a. on sex. Manhattan is pricy and those that live in it are also pricy. Sometimes it may actually be cheaper to go with a hooker.

23. If someone does you a favor, they expect something in return.

No one is so nice that they'll do you favors simply because they feel like being nice. They will always expect either a favor in return or are looking for a way to connect with you. If someone interacts with you, then take it as an opening; if it's someone who you think you'd like to get to know, then do so. But be on guard for those that are going to ask for favors.

24. You have to sell yourself and not just your company/product.

New York is a place where everyone judges you on your appearance. People will want to either interact with you or to avoid you depending on how you dress and groom your hair — it may seem shallow, but it's efficient. This can be directly translated into business; often at times people will judge what you do and how well you are capable of doing it by the way you look. There actually is a correlation between how well a person keeps up their appearance and how they run a business. You are your business.

25. Shocker to shock her: 2 in the pink, 1 in the stink.

There's no better place in the world to have sex and experiment than in NYC — just about everyone is down to get down. A guy (or girl) can pick up quite a few tricks making the rounds. I once decided to hit up an old booty call and she was surprised at the tricks that I picked up over the year since I've seen her. Shocker. I'm telling you…it works.

26. No matter what, there is always a way to get on the list.

Venues like having the reputation of being exclusive — but it's all for show. As long as you are a good looking, well-dressed and well-mannered person, you should have no problem getting into anywhere. I went out with 3 ladies one night and after they got turned down at the door, I thought I'd give it a shot myself before we walked off. Just a polite hello and a smile and we walked right in.

27. The best defense is a strong offense.

In the city, people will f*ck with you if they feel that you can be f*cked with. I have never had any trouble before and I believe it's because when I'm in an area that I feel may be a bit sketchy, I literally hold myself in a manner that yells: that motherf*cker is going to kill someone tonight. Sometimes the best way to keep people at a safe distance is to be more aggressive — or at least to look like it.

28. People will pay for convenience.

My parents were penny pinchers. Me… I'm a New Yorker; I like convenience. I'll pay that extra few dollars to the delivery guy so that I don't have to walk over 3 blocks to pick up the food myself. I like living in areas where everything is at arm's reach. And so do most people. No matter what you are selling, if it's not convenient, then no one will buy it.

29. Having friends is important and sometimes difficult.

Having good friends is important in a city like this. With all the stress and the craziness that is every day, you need someone to talk to and to blow some steam off with. However, friends can become a bit of a headache. They can also be too busy with their own lives to be a part of yours. Making real friends in the city is difficult and keeping them can be even more difficult.

30. Schedules don't always synch up.

You like to keep busy. So does everyone else. Unfortunately, there is no one scheduling format that all people choose to follow. Most people have hectic schedules with varying or odd hours. This can make hanging out or dating very difficult. Make sure your schedules align before you decide to start dating.

31. If you want to make money, then you can make money.

You always hear people complaining that they can't find a job and can't make money. I think that's bullsh*t. If there is a will, there is a way — it may not be the way you want it to be, but still: there is always a way.

32. Falling in love multiple times is possible.

Coming into contact with so many different, beautiful people will open up your eyes to a whole new world. Those that believe that there is only one true love out there for each individual need to live in NY for a few years. There are so many wonderful, beautiful and intriguing people in the world that it's funny to think that only one of them is compatible with us.

33. Having our faithfulness tested is not something that goes away.

Some people start to worry when they find their imaginations wandering from their lovers to other attractive people they meet. The fact is that human beings are attracted to those they find beautiful. If you find other people beautiful, then you will be attracted to them and the thought of sleeping with them will cross your mind. This never changes. You just have to know what you want and not allow yourself to veer off track.

34. Money saved for a rainy day can save your life.

It's difficult to save money in New York…but it can be and should be done. You never know when you'll need a few extra hundred bucks.

35. You can get it cheaper.

There is almost always someone somewhere selling it cheaper. And if not, then there is certainly someone somewhere that you can haggle with to get it cheaper.

36. If you don't ask, you won't receive.

People don't give handouts, but if you ask, then you may very well receive. Ask; it won't kill you.

37. People don't like to say no.

People don't like to disappoint people. If you are afraid of asking, think about the fact that statistically you are more likely to get a 'yes' as an answer.

38. Everyone is different.

This city is a melting pot of the world — you get a little taste of everything. No two people are exactly the same.

39. Everyone is the same.

You will also notice that no one person is entirely different from anyone else. We all have something in common — which is great because it allows us the possibility of connecting.

40. No one is special; some just try harder.

People aren't born more successful. They become successful because they try harder. Anyone can make it. You'd be surprised to see who does.

41. Getting off track happens.

Staying focused is essential, but difficult. You will get distracted and fall off track from time to time. What's important is being able to get back on it as quickly as possible.

42. Losing yourself happens.

There are moments in life when you think you know yourself and then the next, you realize that you and the person looking back at you in the mirror have never met. Life is one long journey of losing yourself and then finding yourself again.

43. Most people spend the majority of their lives trying to find themselves.

Not everyone does find themselves. It's sad, but true. There are people that can't seem to get their sh*t together — but this does not have to be the case. Logic is your friend. Use it and you'll have a much easier time wrapping your brain around the world and your life.

44. If they look like they're fake, they probably are.

Nine out of 10 times.

45. There's beauty in silence.

You don't realize it until you can't find any. New York is loud…almost all the time. Finding that silence — whether from within or from without — will make life more beautiful.

46. Privacy is important.

You don't think about how important your privacy is until it's violated. We are surrounded by so many people here that it can be very difficult to get away and to be alone.

47. No one really gives a sh*t.

They really don't. They may say they do. They may even make fun of you for it, but at the end of the day, they care more about their own problems and will forget about yours shortly.

48. You never know whom you'll meet.

The most special of encounters are the random ones. People are interesting…you just need to get to know them.

49. Drinking brings people together.

Yes. I owe a good amount of my success to Jameson and Hendricks. Success in business and in the bedroom.

50. Always wear a condom.

Otherwise you will catch something at some point that you don't want to catch. People nasty out here.