Over a year later, I’m back.
I’ve graduated college, working full time at a corporate job that surrounds me with people who inspire and challenge me.
The second I started my job, I found out that I would be spending a considerable amount of time in New York City. It’s no secret that I have never been enamored with New York the way that many people are. I have always preferred Boston, but after spending some time in NYC, I couldn’t help but appreciate the experiences I had there. I am also very grateful for my friends who were convinced to get me to fall in love with the city, if it wasn’t for happy hours, rooftops afternoons and running around the city together, I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time as much as I did.
ONE // It’s a Small World
Even though Manhattan is jam packed with people and it seems like such a big city, it’s really a small town. Not a day (no exaggeration here) went by without running into someone that I knew. At the coffee shop, down the street while walking to the gym, on the subway. I saw people from my hometown, my parents’ friends, and tons of fellow Huskies. (Six UConn grads lived within a few blocks of my hotel… that I know of.) This to me was one of the unexpected perks of living to NYC. I thought I’d move there and feel alone and instead, I found myself recognizing friends everywhere.
However, this is one of those things that goes two ways. While it was wonderful to bump into friends, there’s a negative side of this small world. It’s a small world. You NEVER know who is listening into your conversation at the airport or in line at Starbucks. And you never know who you’ll end up working with again.
I learned that while you can turn your back and walk away from a bridge, it’s a really good idea to not burn it.
TWO // A Smile Goes a Long Way
The simplest thing in the world: a smile. In New York, it seems like there’s an epidemic with smile shortages. If you’re having a bad day, force a smile even if you don’t want to. If you feel like someone else is having a bad day (like the cashier who snaps at you), force the smile too.
I feel like people don’t like to look each other in the eye in the city, but I can tell you from experience that if you smile, good things will follow. Sometimes people are just waiting for someone else to take the lead.
It pays off in the long run too. Befriend your doorman, smile at your taxi driver when you’re getting in the cab, walk into work every day with a smile.
Smiles have the ability to change attitudes– yours and those around you. Don’t ration your smiles, they’re free.
THREE // Don’t Ask for Anything (Do Your Research)
This is something that sounds kind of harsh, but I can’t tell you how valuable it is. Never, ever ask for anything. (Okay, I can imagine some exceptions to this rule, but go with it.) Instead of asking for something, offer to help. Eventually the tables will turn and you’ll be able to squeeze your ask in.
People, especially busy people, are way more likely to help you when you’ve helped them. The offer should be specific and direct, which requires research. An “I would love to help!” comment doesn’t carry any value or weight… especially if you add, “I’ll do anything!” This, although you might not have realized it, would create work for the other person as he or she would have to figure out what your interests are and what you can actually do.
(I also feel like I should clarify, an offer might be indirect as well. If you show up to class every day and help lead discussions by asking insightful questions, you might consider that you’ve “offered” something to your professor. Asking for a recommendation letter would be okay. If you’ve been consistently doing great work and even going a bit above the call of duty to help your boss, asking for a raise is not out of the question…. etc.)
FOUR // Hard Work and Work is Hard
Hard work is important and work can be hard. I don’t mean that work should feel like a chore, but there are going to be challenging moments. If you’re not facing those challenging moments frequently, you’re not growing.
Also, doing something is better than doing nothing, but you shouldn’t get stuck in a rut. Don’t let your second job, that you need for income affect your day job because you stayed out way too late the night before. And don’t let the fear of not having a job hold you back from making career moves. I know of multiple people who have fallen off the path because they either focused on the wrong job or simply quit without a backup plan and are waiting for something “right.” The right thing will always come along if you stick with it and keep moving forward. Take the job that will help you maintain your employment and income, but figure out a way it can advance your career. Maybe the job isn’t ideal, but you get off work at 6pm which allows you to take online courses at night. Sitting around doing nothing will get you exactly that: nothing.
FIVE // Walking Does Wonders
I love walking. “When in doubt, walk it out” should be my motto. There are moments when I feel like crawling into a ball, either out of exhaustion or frustration (or both). But that accomplishes nothing. While a nap sometimes is called for, a brisk walk does wonders. What I love about Boston is the ability to walk everywhere, but truth is that applies in most cities. I feel so much better about my life after a half hour walk.
Walking helps keep the blood flowing and brain on, while also providing some time away from the computer. And unlike a run or regular workout, you won’t need to shower.
SIX // Moderation is Key
I saved the best for last. In a city full of temptation, moderation is key. Over-exercising is just as bad as not exercising at all. Eating all the sweets is just as harmful as not eating at all. It’s a balancing act. Moderation is important when it comes to: work, eating, exercising, drinking, relationships, resting… everything really.