12 Lessons I Learned in my First 12 Months in NYC
Today, I just completed my first move while living in NYC, almost exactly a year after first transitioning to the Big Apple. Moving to me comes with reflection, as I’m forced to look back on what I’ve accumulated, both physically and mentally, over the course of living in one particular spot. I have to face the messes and I have to clean them up. It’s the only way to move forward.
I’ve learned and grown so much in this past year + there isn’t a day goes by that I’m not grateful to live in this gritty city. Here’s a short list of what I’ve gained in the past 12 turns of the calendar, spent on DeKalb Ave.
1. You Have to Humble Yourself
New York forces you to have humility. You can’t live here long and act like you’re shit doesn’t stink. Through crowded trips on the subway, to the long walks across Bedford just to get to the train that include colorful characters of all sorts, and the midnight trips to the bodega that somehow run you $30 a pop, you face your humanity. You learn that everyone is trying to make it just like you are, you aren’t ‘special,’ and life goes on with or without you.
2. Life Really Is About the Journey, Not the Destination
Speed is the middle name of a true New Yorker. Everything around here moves at the speed of light, everyone looking for a shortcut, a handout, or a faster route.
But if you’re constantly a speed demon, you miss everything that passes you by as you get to where you’re going. All of the possible connections, opportunities, and moments. Gone, because you were too busy looking to what’s next.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your destiny. Be patient, keep going, and don’t forget to enjoy where you are in the meantime.
3. Comparison is the Thief of Joy
The quickest way to put a damper on your day is to compare your X to someone else’s Y.
You can’t compare yourself to someone else because you are uncomparable. You are you. They are them. There is no comparing.
Stop wasting time and celebrate who you are, and who others are as well. Learn to APPRECIATE instead of COMPARE.
4. Nothing Changes, Until You Change Something
One of my favorite quotes comes from Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
It’s easy to talk about making changes. It’s much harder to implement them.
We all have habits, routines, and vices that we do almost implicitly, they are so ingrained into our beings. Our lives are run on autopilot. We do things because we always have.
Intention is the first step and it’s an important one. But, until you actually change the way you do something, approach something, handle ish, you won’t see a different life for yourself. You’ll get more of the same.
5. Nothing Replaces Hard Work
Effort is required in everything. Unless you are willing to put in the sweat equity, don’t expect to get any output. Output comes from INPUT.
Laziness is easy and sometimes fun, and sometimes okay, but will always delay progress in the long run. Don’t be afraid of hard work, instead find ways to embrace the grind. Find ways to make work FUN. It could be a podcast, it could be a coffee shop, it could be a reward you give yourself when it’s done. Find the joy + stay in it.
6. Small Choices Add Up To Big Consequences
Our daily decisions seem small and insignificant: buying that $6 latte, taking an afternoon nap, drinking 3 glasses of wine at happy hour, binge-watching Netflix on the weekend.
But these small choices add up over time.
They lead to debt. To weight gain. To depression. Disconnection. Loneliness.
Remember the impact of your choices as you make them daily. Think about what you want, what your goals are, and ask yourself if these decisions you make hour to hour match up with them. If not, you’re going to face the consequences later. If yes, you’ll be that much closer to getting where you want to go.
7. The Most Important Thing You Can Do is Focus On Yourself
It’s so easy to look at all of your problems and wait or wish for someone to come and clean them all up. Or, occupy yourself by looking at other people’s problems and judging and criticizing their mess across the street, rather than deal with your own.
The only way to get anywhere in life is to focus on you. Stay in your own lane. Don’t concern yourself with what others are doing, saying, thinking, or what they say, or think about you. It doesn’t matter and it doesn’t do anything for you.
8. You Have to Love Yourself, Before Everything
It’s cheesy. It’s overused. But it also happens to be true: you have to love to expect love back. You set the precedent on how people treat you. You can’t ask for what you’re not willing to give.
9. Know Who You Are + Own it Without Apology
Part of the self-love equation is understanding what exactly it is that you love.
Who are you? What makes you, you? What are your passions? What do you love? What makes you excited? Happy? Sad? Angry?
Understanding and discovering yourself is a beautiful necessity. Spend time with YOU. Articulate what it is that you want and don’t.
Own that. Don’t bend yourself to try to please others, or passively comply to a vision that doesn’t match your truth.
10. Know When to Walk Away
Trying to force anything leads to resistance. It never works.
Sometimes, things just don’t line up. Plans don’t work out, relationships fall apart. It’s not meant to be. It’s not working. It’s dysfunctional.
Instead of trying to will and wish for something different, know when enough is enough. You’ve got to know when to hold and when to fold.
Walking away can be also be liberating. It’s you standing up for you and what you need. It’s practicing having good boundaries.
Accept what is and know when something isn’t for you anymore (or never was). Learn to gracefully bow out.
11. Learn to Lighten Up
Not everything is so serious.
Relax! Have fun! Enjoy!
Don’t always analyze every last detail. Don’t spend time worrying.
Instead, find the joy and stay in it.
12. Live in the Moment
All we have is now.
The past is gone, we can’t change it. The future is unknown, it’s not here yet.
Stop spending time predicting, future tripping, past reliving, and obsessing over what you said and what they said and what it meant.
This moment is it. It’s life. Life is here. Be here. Or else, you’re not actually alive.