New York City. The Big Apple. The Empire State. It's the place where dreams meet reality, and then come back again. People say a lot of things about New York: it's crowded, it's dirty, it's scary, but here are the things I learned.
1. You get what you give.
It doesn't matter where you end up, if you're nice and put good energy into the world there's no reason for people to be rude to you. That being said, when people need to get somewhere, or they're in a hurry they're going to be pushy. It just so happens there's a greater concentration of people in the city so there's a greater chance that people will be late, so don't treat others differently just because you're in a bigger city.
2. You have to know how to read a map.
The subway is scary, and you will get lost like I did on my first day here. Once you get hip with the map you'll be able to get anywhere. Despite what a lot of people say, the transit system in New York is really efficient. It moves millions of people a day, and enables a lot less traffic in the streets. So get hip and use it!
3. Being friendly goes a long way.
If you smile and are kind to people in the city they respond well. I was expecting a lot of stony faces when I first came here, and that just isn't the case. People are open to kindness wherever you look, things just move so fast here that there may not be time. A smile goes a long way in any city. Also, saying excuse me? Revolutionary.
4. Your version of paradise differs from others', and that's okay.
It's no secret that everyone has different life experiences and aspirations. Some want to make a home in a nice, small town. Others like the big city. I definitely feel more comfortable here than I ever have before. It just depends based on who you are. Nothing is better or worse than anything else, it's just what's better to you.
5. Life moves quickly.
I knew this before, but I never really understood it until now. It seemed like decades to get me from graduation to New York, and now that I'm here everything is flying by. Take the time to really appreciate what's happening in your life. No matter how screwed up or wonderful. Everyone always says to stop and smell the roses, and I've always ignored them. You never know when your subway ride will end, so embrace the sounds, the trash and the beauty. No matter how ugly it gets, everything matters.