Emily Foster
October 06, 2012 4:00 am

I’ve always hated when people made comments like, “Everyone should live in New York at some point.” I never had that feeling before moving there, and now that I’ve left after 3 years there, I still feel like you can live a whole and complete life without ever having a New York zip code. But as cheesy as it sounds, I do think there’s some truth that “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”… which is why, after making it here, I’m off to make it in LA. Here are some life lessons I picked up during my “must do” time.

When I first got to New York, I was jobless, mostly friendless and lonely. My to-do list looked like this:

1. Find best friends.

2. Find a fantastic job.

3. Take a pickling class.

After flailing around with this seemingly impossible list, I finally made a connection with someone about a job. When we met for coffee, I came away from the meeting with his words ringing in my ear: “I have a lot of new projects starting” and “I’d love to have you on board.” As I left that West Village Starbucks, I was beaming from ear to ear, thinking, “Everything is going to be okay!” and “I’m gonna crush this town!” It was then that I looked down and realized that I was standing on a bloody maxi pad in the middle of the sidewalk.

That bloody pad became my modern day ‘cart before the horse’ reminder to not get ahead of myself. In New York, a land with SO many possibilities, it’s easy to forget that. And just like the nasty pad in the tea leaves predicted, I didn’t get the job. A year or so later, I was reminded of this lesson again, but this time it was with the perfect boy – the one I was so sure was going to be something great – you know, the guy with an awesome job, who loved kids and who was also super hot? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because – just like a lot of sweet promises from a job that never materialized – the boy was not to be. Nice guys send flowers. We should get excited about many things in our lives, but I learned that it’s good to make sure it’s worth it before I roll out the parade.

The next thing that it took me a while to learn is that the view from the top is always better. I don’t mean that in a private club, Hampton’s dwelling,  “I’m a douchebag in pink pants” on top of the world kind of way. I actually mean that any rooftop in New York is worth hanging out on.  When you’re walking down the street, it’s pretty hard to see what’s ahead of you besides more buildings. But when you get a rooftop and you can see for miles, life just makes more sense. It’s a great way to get out of your head and think big picture. It’s super breezy and so are you. Plus, if you’re on a rooftop, you’re probably at a bar enjoying a nice cocktail. Now that makes even more sense.

And lastly, you just never know who is going to change your life. Because New York’s streets are overcrowded, you come into such close proximity – like ‘I can smell your body odor’ close – with so many strangers every day. And while that is mostly nauseating, there are times when it’s a lovely way to never feel alone. There are small examples of that, like the old lady that says ‘bless you’ when you sneeze on a day when you feel like everyone is mean and the guy on the street that calls you gorgeous on the day you feel anything but. And the bigger examples, like the lucky cab driver that picked me up after a breakup. I was sobbing in the back seat of his cab on the phone with a friend. When I finally hung up, he said, “Was that guy really worth all of these tears?” And at that moment, I realized he wasn’t. Although that didn’t stop me from crying, ’cause it’s super hard to stop once you’ve started. My point is, these strangers can also be your friends, who live in the same city and care for you in tiny ways.

Are there things you’re missing out on by not living in New York? Sure. But you’re also probably experiencing some things where you are that all those New Yorkers are missing out on, too – and you’re probably a lot nicer and saner overall. While New York was a time that I will always treasure, I am now quite certain that the only thing you MUST do in life is take a pickling class.

(Image via ShutterStock.)

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