Look Up: 3 Ways New York City Changed My Perspective On Life
I already know what you're thinking.
Writing about the greatness of New York City is like writing about bad Tinder experiences: It has been done over and over.
Let me assure you, this has been written through the eyes of an Australian girl who, as the daughter of a flight attendant, has more stamps in her passport than words in her vocabulary.
This particular trip marked a dramatic turn in the path that was my life. I had just dropped my law degree and decided I was going to try my hand at comedy full-time.
And what better place to dip my toe than the city full of sharks, where no one was ever really safe in the waters?
1. Only in New York City do you feel completely alone surrounded by 8.5 million people.
Traveling alone is never easy.
No matter how many mates of mates you have in the city, at the end of the day, it is up to you to involve yourself in the lives of these people.
Everyone has his or her own things going on, and you are no one else's responsibility.
Feeling alone in a city full of people is a profound sort of contradiction. Feeling alone while you are physically alone forces you to reflect, heal and just think.
But in the city that never sleeps, the loneliness you experience will hit you 10 times harder. At the same time, it will give you no other option than to hit back.
In New York City, there is no space to feel sorry for yourself. Self-deprecation will propel you into a downward spiral, but the discomfort of feeling alone will thicken your skin like a callus.
And just like a callus, it can be ugly, but it will protect you.
2. Don't just look forward, look up.
In a city where things are built to the sky rather than to the edges, all you have to do is look up.
Looking up can bring you back down to earth. You'll realize you are so grounded that sometimes, not even the sun can hit you. It can make you feel small and insignificant.
It can remind you that you are just another rat in the race, and between the real rats and the people, you're one of a billion. But being one of a billion isn't to say you aren't one in a billion.
Look up, and you'll see the people of the city constantly in motion, determined to make something of themselves. Every person is here because he or she has enough faith in his or her ability to make it work.
Coming from Sydney, where the median cost of a house is 1 million AUD (about $750k US), an expensive cost of living doesn't shock me. But it was the mentality that a city could eat you alive if you didn't prove yourself that really taught me something.
Look forward, and you will get where you need to go. Look up, and you will get where you want to be.
3. Don't you know everyone wants to laugh?
These words perhaps mean more to me than they do to most people.
As they proudly sit inked into my left bicep, they represent the idea that no matter how tough the grind or people may seem, everyone seeks happiness. This is especially true in New York City, where it can seem people are too serious for their own good.
You have to remember that in NYC, just like everywhere else, people are in pursuit of happiness.
Maybe it's money that makes them happy, maybe it's spending time with their family or maybe they get their rocks off from being absolute dicks. Either way, people are constantly in search of something to make them feel less sh*tty.
As the song says, “Make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh. Don't you know everyone wants to laugh?”
New York City is home to so much pressure, but because of that, New Yorkers chase the escape from it all.
There is no better fix than laughter, no matter how temporary the happiness.
New York City will change your perspective on life, and what you gain will most likely be different from what the next person does.
The point is, you have to let the city teach you something. It can be scary, especially when you fear the day the city will change your character, but you can be yourself while gaining a new perspective.
It's what you do with that perspective that will affect your character. The city will consume you, but you get to decide whether it chews you up and spits you out a changed person, or unapologetically swallows you whole.