New York ‘Girls' Rules

Ah, New York City.  You fine metropolis, you.

I’ve lived in New York for over a decade, now.  That means I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of money on rent, shoes, iced coffees and therapy and even though I almost completely failed at life in NYC in my 20s (no, like seriously), the lessons I learned along the way taught me how to not entirely fail at life in NYC by my 30s.  Talk about a learning curve.

And I’ve been watching Girls.  I feel like Girls should be in the gift basket of every 20-something-girl-NYC-transplant’s first “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m living here” apartment.  Why?  Because, yeah, if you lived in NYC through your 20s, you’ve been through what the Girls are going through.  I mean, at least I have. As the 20-something-NYC-girl’s Yoda, I want to invite every 20-something girl into my studio – I mean, like, 3 or 4 at a time, because that’s all that would fit – and hand out the following rules I’ve amassed after 10+ years of living here.

Beyond the practical rules, like it’s worth it to take a cab on the weekends when the trains are messed up, or it’s okay to have your mom send you Cheerios from your hometown because they’re like, $7 here, these are the emotional rules…

The How To Not Fail At Life In NYC In Your 20s Rules.

1. Even if you moved to NYC to be the next prolific <fill in the blank>, it’s okay to work at McDonald’s along the way.  Or Starbucks or a restaurant or a bar in Midtown.  I mean, obviously this is rarely a part of our prolific <fill in the blank> life plan, but it pays the rent (trust me) and if you get tired of making McFlurries, you can tell people the McFlurry machine is broken.  Yeah, uh-huh, sure it is.

2. Always listen to strangers, especially when it comes to the people you’re dating.  Seriously, I always talk to my cab driver about the guy I’m dating, because though occasionally English is a second language, they could all teach courses on how to spot a douchebag.  They drive them around all day long.

3. Every time you have sex, you are going to automatically assume you are pregnant and/or you have an STD.  You probably aren’t/don’t.  Buy pregnancy tests in the 3-pack and don’t be stupid when you do it.  Okay, that is a general life rule and not a specific NYC-girl rule, but whatever.

4. You’re always going to know someone who has a Sex and the City poster hanging in their room.  And they have the boxed set and both movies and consider themselves a Carrie.  Maybe a Charlotte, possibly a Miranda, but probably a Carrie.  Nobody ever wants to admit that they want to be a Samantha (even though everyone actually wants to be a Samantha).

5. Heel height is positively correlated to both blister size and compliments received.  Leave the house in a pair of 3″ heels, and walk home in the ballet flats you’ve stuck in your bag.  Trust me on this.

6. Wear a skirt, get a cab.

7. Go into every relationship knowing that my friend is friends with the person you’re currently dating.  Because it’s probably true.  Everyone knows everyone here.  Just look at Facebook – you friend someone you meet in NYC for the first time and it’s like, “31 mutual friends”.  True story.

8. Parties held in Brooklyn are usually crazy.  Parties in Queens usually involve a backyard and a BBQ.  Parties in either borough will guarantee you a fun time and two hour subway ride home after midnight, no matter where you live.

9. You will be a successful writer/actor/director/model/dancer/musician.  Maybe. I mean, it’s worth a shot at least.  You can always get a real job, later.

10. For a lot of 20-something-girl-NYC-transplants, NYC never really feels permanent.  It’s where you live, but it’s not.  And then, at some point, the wheels touch down and the flight attendant comes on and says “Welcome to New York City” and you sigh and think: “I’m home.”

This usually happens in your 30s, after you’ve figured out how not to fail at life.

…and when it does, it’s awesome.

photo via televisionaryblog

  • Bre Short

    This is amazing. I just moved here 3 months ago and what almost everyone I’ve talked to has said is that NYC takes a long time to adjust to. Thanks for the words!

  • Trish Rollins

    As a native New Yorker I’m kind of jealous that I’ll never know that new New Yorker feeling. However I’m also lucky enough to know that I was born and raised in the greatest city in the world, so that makes up for it.

  • Akilah Hughes

    I just moved to Brooklyn last week and spent that week finding a place down the street and a new awesome job. I am HOPING to start taking courses at UCB soon, so this post was like everything I needed to read! An ammendment to the rules though: YOU CANNOT EVER EVER EVER HAVE A TOASTER IN NEW YORK CITY. 😀 Thanks for this!

  • Claire Thornley

    Sounds like NYC and London have some things in common. Great post, really interesting!

  • Emily Lemieux

    yeah sorry I lived there from ages 22-27 and I can’t really relate to this. If you make McFlurries you probably can’t afford to take cabs. Also I didn’t know anyone who wore 3 inch heels in NYC or had Sex and the City posters. If you spend all day pounding sidewalks and subway platforms it isn’t long until all you own is ballet flats. Also as far as the plane touching down and feeling at home, I never got that until I moved to a place that didn’t have people yelling on the A train about Jesus at 8am every morning, homeless guys going to the bathroom on the platform next to me, actually affordable grocery stores, and efficient health care services. This idealizes things a bit too much I think.

  • Kate Maggiolino

    This is all so true. I lived in Brooklyn for two years while going to school and I learned the majority of these things in those two years. Luckily I wasn’t renting an apartment at that time but I plan on making it back down there someday! I miss it!

  • Carly Ryan

    I like the positivity. The comment above is a lil’ harsh, but I do agree the “work at McDonald’s” cliche is tired. You redeemed it with the McFlurry machine joke (I get that line every time I try to order McCafe stuff) and also by saying Starbuck’s or working at a bar (more realistic ways to make adequate money.) The bottom line is “do what you gotta do.” The pool of overqualified people is huge and there’s no shame in working a service industry job; just keep your eye on the prize and build your resume simultaneously.

  • Cristina Alonso

    I’m moving to NYC next month, I’ve saved this post as a word document :)

  • Kait Richmond

    I definitely think this post is accurate, but of course it isn’t for everyone. I moved here last September and I can see myself feeling the very same way in a few years. A chapter in Mindy Kaling’s book is called something like “I Love New York, and New York Likes Me Okay” and I think that perfectly sums up my relationship with this city. But let’s be real, plenty of people DO wear 3″ heels despite all the walking – dunno what that comment is talking about.

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