New York City never stops, never sleeps if you will. No matter what the circumstances, you really just have to keep on trucking. Oh, it's 70 degrees below, hell is freezing over, and the sky is raining cats and dogs? Schools are still in session and the subway is delayed but still running. Just keep on keeping on. It's a harsh place to survive and if you let it, it'll chew you up and spit you out and feel no remorse. In fact it'll likely laugh mockingly in your face, dragging you while you're down. But the thing about the city is it certainly breeds a hardy type of person. That's the New York state of mind: a willingness to push through any obstacle, a blatant refusal to accept the answer "no," and a sense of healthy cynicism so that you can laugh about it, even if it's twisted, at the end of the day. If you can survive here you really can make it anywhere. New York is a really hard place to live. It's really, really hard and it will make you a hard person if you survive. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
I had grown up visiting New York, I had spent several summers in high school attending photography camps -- I knew that I loved the city. But loving the city and living in it are separate things. We use the term concrete jungle lightly, as a cliche, but there is so much basis to this concept of a cut throat jungle.
I hated it here freshman year at NYU. I was severely depressed and homesick and I wanted nothing more than my old life back. I missed my high school friends, I missed driving my car, and I resented the cold unfeeling glances of the bitchy New Yorkers. I was bullied by one of the girls in my sorority, I had guy problem after guy problem, and I felt like I was all alone with no one to turn to. By the end of my freshman year I had committed to transfer to the University of Miami, I had even registered for classes there and had scoped out apartments. But it started to turn around that summer. I went to a therapist a few times a week and she helped me set goals for myself, seemingly small things like overcoming my severe fear of the gym and going to surfing lessons on the weekends. I also began my internship at Getty Images. Despite the way I'd been treated by NYU, despite the fact that I still didn't feel like I fit in, I found a place at Getty that was uniquely mine, something away from the bullshit and mind numbing bureaucracy at NYU, a place where I was respected for a job well done. I continued to struggle with the decision but ultimately decided that the long term benefits of NYC outweighed my short term unhappiness. I knew I'd have so much more opportunity here than anywhere else I could ever transfer to. I know I would have been happier at UM in a short term sense, I would have had more of a traditional college experience like the kind I craved, but looking back on it now I'm so glad I toughed it out. My big Julia had told me a similar story when I talked it over with her and I've heard so many similar stories of the struggles of moving to this place. It's impossible to even describe it to anyone who has only visited NYC, this place can be hard as hell.
But here I am, with two incredible internships, finally transferred into a program I actually care about following almost 5 months living abroad in Italy, living in an incredible dream apartment with one of my best friends and my grandlittle... I never would have believed a year ago that I'd be this okay, I would have scoffed at anyone had they told me. In fact I did scoff at Julia when she told me. New York and the experiences I've had here have made me remarkably strong.
My advice to anyone struggling with it is to try to tough it out. Find things to do. Join a fitness class, go to a club meeting, find a spot in a nearby park where you can read books under a tree, take up painting, anything that keeps you busy and keeps your mind from thinking too much. If you're having trouble finding friends stop worrying about finding friends and start doing things for yourself. This is really a good rule for anything in life -- do things simply for yourself, for your own health and well being and mental stability. Go drink something with caffeine in it, put on your favorite outfit, listen to a badass song, hold your head up high and get out there and make the world yours.
Blair Waldorf, Queen B herself, was right: you really have no choice most of the time but to make your own destiny. And New York City can be a really wonderful place to do that. You just have to make through a lot of difficulties in the process. But you will, don't you worry.
(I wore a pink quarter sleeve wrap crop top from Bebe, white tea length tulle skirt from Lulu's, pink pointed toe Aldo heels, layered Ann Taylor pearl necklace, Olive + Piper pearl earrings, and Kiel James Patrick pearl bracelet.)
Thanks Carter for the photos! Check out: Carter Fish Photography