New York – the never-ending mystery. Dreamland to some, playland to others, tough reality to yet the rest. Certain topics are avoided and just never touched upon when outside of the Big Apple. They are called the things you’d wish someone had told you about to prepare you when arriving in this city.
Evidently, no one ever mentioned these to me, so I had to come around and painfully discover them myself. Some of these are fun but others can become annoying at times.
1) You will be broke!
And you might even stay broke for a while. The thing with New York is it’s expensive. Of course everyone knows that certain cities are on average cheaper while others are pricier. But New York allows you an unlimited time of fun – at a high cost. To keep up with this, you will have to spend money. After a few restaurant visits, a few bars, a few clothes, and a few other must-haves, you find yourself having spent 100 percent more than you had in your wallet. My savings had been exhausted only 4 weeks after I came here. Paying first and last month rent for the apartment being one of the most harmless expenses. All of a sudden I had to keep up with everything going on around me. While my former roommate had warned me to take it easy on
splurging spending, of course I couldn’t listen in the beginning. So six weeks later I found myself waiting tables and working the bars to get some of the money back. Ouch! But beware, this also applies to tourists. I had friends from Germany who had to fly back earlier than expected because all of their savings were spent within a week or so. Even more Ouch! And what really sucks is that you have to find a way to pace yourself soon, otherwise you won’t make it around to the monthly paycheck.
2) Competition is everywhere!
We have over 8 million people in this city. Obviously, everyone has to make a living. And as many jobs there might be, the quota is limited. Thus, you will compete for everything and everyone. Be it pre-qualifications, languages you speak, people you know – you will have to stand out for some reason or another to not sink into the faceless crowd of losers. It can be tough. At times I had three different interviews on one day for jobs I would have never accepted otherwise. Luckily, I was never offered the positions I felt uneasy about. I also tried myself at modeling once and was face to face with a transvestite looking
man girl individual who caught the attention with her flamboyant appearance. At times I am so exhausted of competing, I am voluntarily succumbing myself to the faceless crowd just to get some peace of mind.
3) Everyone is bullshitting!
Consequently, since everyone is competing against everyone, you have to possess the art of bullshitting. Think about a few reasons why your education, your home, your face, your nose, your voice, your who-cares-what is a thousand times better than that of others, and you are on your best way in deceiving yourself. Hopefully also deceiving others. I once read a freshly pressed on Everyone is faking it. The author had it to the point what is so prevalent in this city: No one knows what the heck they are really talking about but everyone knows how to sell themselves successfully. After taking the wrong directions from a 6-year-old who had confidently described me the way, I had enough of this nonsense. Sometimes I just long back to the times and cultures where honesty is valued and where admitting one’s wrong-doing is defined as strength rather than a weakness. Where you aren’t humiliated when you don’t know a certain thing but where people readily explain to you what exactly you have to do next.
4) Everyone is jealous!
After competing and bullshitting so hard, you think you’ve won the battle? Wrong! You will have to deal with everyone being jealous about everything you do, have, know, and possess. It starts with girls eyeing you on the train to the point where you angrily glance over and they smile because they have achieved what they want. Or the friends others want to grab away from you because they think they are much cooler than you. Not to mention the salary you make in comparison to your coworker. It doesn’t matter that they agreed to these terms in the beginning, now that they’ve worked there for ten days surely they must be entitled to the same. Jealousy is an underlying current in this city and it is not so evident when you are only here for a few weeks. But after the initial honey moon period you start noticing some really evil looks you get if you are dressed up but no reaction at all when you are dressed down.
5) You can be flexible!
Finally a positive aspect! New York has offered me one of those rare moments I’ve seldom had anywhere else: I can be what I want and no one will give a darn! It doesn’t matter if I decide to go underground for a bit, because I know that in a few weeks or months from now I can be the shining star on the horizon again. In Germany, things are more rigid. Your life path
is seems to be set in stone; you are more urged to choose a career suddenly, whether you like it or not. While experimentation is accepted it is not necessarily embraced by everyone. Here, on the contrary, the more you’ve done the better. The more flexible you are in your schedules, the more you are viewed as a great match. The more interesting hobbies and passions you have, the more likely it is to be regarded as a hot shot. Of course it always depends in which business you are getting yourself into. I just feel that here I can truly experiment with many careers, try out new and exciting things, and still be regarded as a serious match when it comes to job hunting. But beware: While flexibility can certainly equal freedom, at the same time it can also create burn-out and pressure.
2 thoughts on “10 Things You’d Wish You’d Known Before Coming to New York (Part I)”
Number 1 is the number 1 reason I never moved to NYC, even though it would have been one of the most logical choices if I wanted to utilize my degree by working in the publishing field. I do think it’s cool that one can be more flexible (and if you initially move there without a job I imagine you would have to be). It is a bit strange being in Germany where you realize most of the people who work even as waitresses have been groomed to be in that business from a somewhat early age. If I were stuck for a career in any of the jobs I’ve held, I would go crazy. I think most things one can do can be tied to things one has done before or wants to do. An English degree, people get. Creative writing, not so much. I explain that I did a lot of the same classes as an English major but also had extensive experience in writing my own work. This lends to having excellent written communication skills, attention to detail, etc etc. Whatever someone is looking for I can probably tie in. It would drive me crazy if people were completely bullshitting (lying with confidence); but creatively being able to tie where you’ve come from to where you want to go (selling oneself) I think can be a plus.
Entertaining and informative post. I liked the part about the 6 year old giving you direction, that was really funny!