New York City: the millennial Mecca. Where there is no dearth of shady landlords, $1 late night pizza, and boundless opportunity for professional development. Countless are the television shows based in the Big Apple depicting the lives of various twenty and thirty-somethings navigating their personal and professional lives, all from the comfort of their cozy West Village apartments. The draw to New York is strong – I felt it and ran with it, uprooting my temperate, collegiate lifestyle on the west coast to brave the real world in Manhattan. Needless to say, my life is nothing like Blair Waldorf’s. While the appeal of the city that never sleeps is both romantic and tantalizing, the reality, I’m afraid to say, is much harsher.
Nevertheless, just as easy as it is to fall out of love with New York due to skewed expectations, it is possible to renew your vows with the city and learn to appreciate it even if you are broke, often-stressed, and itching for excitement amidst a 9-5 routine with a few easy mindset tweaks:
1. No one cares about you
While this may sound negative, embrace it. There are nearly 9 million people in New York City – chances are, at any given moment, you’re pretty insignificant. If you’re feeling like strolling down 5th singing T-Swift in your sweatpants, go for it. Not everyone dresses to the nines, not everyone is all there mentally, and no one is paying attention to what you do.
2. Manhattan isn’t everything
While Manhattan is undoubtedly the most popular borough in terms of nightlife, disposable incomes, and tourist attractions, it is not the be-all-end-off of New York City. The other four boroughs have their own perks and flares that make them as equally unique and attractive, especially to millennials ballin’ on a budget. With a public transportation system running 24/7, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t live in Queens (which was the most visited tourist destination in the United States in 2015) and go out every night in Soho. If you forego the idea that Manhattan is the only borough worth exploring, you’ll not only expand your social radius, but also gain a more comprehensive understanding of the history of New York City on the whole.
3. Be patient; things take longer here
Despite the fast-paced lifestyle that brands New York, the dense population makes seemingly-easy, mundane tasks, such as grocery shopping, take an eternity. You aren’t the only person with your same agenda on any given day. It’s a big city. Most places are crowded. Don’t get hot-headed – there’s no need for those under-your-breath remarks like “fucking MOVE” on the subway during rush hour. Abandon the frustration as much as you can and you will be happier.
4. Indulge even when you’re broke
I’m not suggesting you spend $500 on new shoes, but no need to feel constantly limited by your bank account. Yes, New York is notoriously expensive. But luckily there are $3 happy hours and $1.25 Chinese dumpling restaurants to save your wallet. So if you’re very diligent about not going overboard with your spending, don’t beat yourself up about ordering that $14 cocktail or that $3.75 slice of pizza that one time. Treat yo self!
5. Go out! Meet people
In an age dominated by Smartphone usage and minimal face-to-face interaction, don’t be deterred from striking up a casual conversation with a stranger on the subway, in line at Chipotle, or at a bar. New York City has some of the most interesting people whose professions and interests vary so drastically, but many of them go unnoticed. I met a guy in a bar who I’m pretty positive is an active member of the mob, but because we talked to him, he bought us beer. The city has so much to offer; don’t miss it by scrolling through Instagram