My friend posted this article from New York magazine’s “The Cut” blog on Facebook today: “Why I’m Glad I Quit New York at 24.”
Looking at the timestamp, I realized the article is actually from last week, but it triggered such an explosion of New York City/life/growing up feelings that I’m debriefing it a week later anyway.
I have fallen deep into the “young, difficult love with New York” the author writes about. I love it, yes, but there are days when I wonder why I’m not living a seemingly easier life in a place that is seemingly more comfortable. I was having that very conversation with my mom yesterday. Spurred by some trivial complaint, I was wondering why I hadn’t just stayed in Portland to live and work and run out my days in peace.
She helped me realize: New York isn’t the only place you have problems. They may be of a different nature somewhere else, but New York isn’t the only place you face financial woes or have a hard time climbing the professional ladder.
And while I don’t see myself quitting New York at 24 like the writer of the NY mag article, this part of the piece really struck a chord for me:
…a lot of people equate comfort with complacency, calmness with laziness. If you’re happy, you’re not working hard enough. You’ve stopped striving.
I am guilty of feeling a little better than other people because I didn’t just find a job, I found a job in New York, or I didn’t just make friends after graduation, I made friends in New York. The time I’ve lived here has shifted my perspective so I understand not everyone sees this city as the end-all, be-all of professional life and that millions of people are satisfied with a calmer existence somewhere else. On the other hand, there’s a big part of me that believes – for better or for worse – that comfort is complacency. That I should be wary of ever feeling too settled. That I need to stay on my toes. And for now, New York is keeping me on my toes.
Months ago, Thought Catalog published a post listing “15 Reasons Why People Move to New York City.” All the reasons were basically in the “we’re young and we want to make the most of our youth” vein, but this one made a big impact:
12. We’re feelings junkies. When we walk out of our door in the morning, we want our brain to be assaulted by a myriad of things. We’re not ready to feel balanced and healthy yet. Burning the candle at both ends still fills us with an intoxicating combo of joy and dread. We are like a strange mix of resilience and ultimate fragility.
As much as a professional or financial or social aspiration may have drawn me to New York, that reason sums up what keeps me here: There’s nowhere I’ve experienced that is so stimulating and challenging. Nowhere that is at the same time exciting and terrifying. And balancing the two is a thrill.
The way I see it, it boils down to this: Some people like New York. Some people hate it. But those of us who love it want to stay here and ride this wave as long as possible.