New York State of Mind

New Yorkers are a different breed. Several times I have talked to native New Yorkers and we have looked at each other as if we’re from different cultures. It  generally would take a few minutes of explaining that outside of NYC, things don’t operate like this. Things are different in NYC. It is the financial, fashion, and cultural hub of the country. A New York minute is more like a second; therefore impatience runs amok.
A native New Yorker was talking to me about not liking LA – a move she was about to make after visiting there several times. This New Yorker had nothing nice to say about LA.  I lived in LA and although it wasn’t my favorite city, I did have a good time while there. How can you not like 85 in January?! I suggested she read an article I came across about another New Yorker’s transition to LA. 
Her response to my email:
“Thanks!  Really interesting article, definitely describes the feeling of being beaten down together and having a joint sense of superiority accurately! Gosh, I totally feel like I am the delusional New Yorker who feels like NY is the center of the universe but I really think it’s different when you’ve lived here your whole life.  He talks about coming from a small town and dreaming of living in New York and judging LA, evaluating homes like it’s a choice.  It’s something really hard to shake when it’s all you know.  Just like you will always approach things from a Midwest perspective.  For me, everything starts and ends in NY.  I can probably learn to live with LA, learn to appreciate parts of LA, but I am pretty sure that I won’t ever feel like I belong anywhere but NY.  We’ll see though, stranger things have happened.”  
My reply:
I think when it comes to New Yorkers, there is a built in bias that is unique only to NYC dwellers. Upstate New Yorkers don’t have an affinity to their state like NYC people do towards this city. That’s why it’s easy to spot a New Yorker.  Anyone born outside of NY  doesn’t feel like their hometown is the best place on earth.  Every place else, you do have a choice and because you don’t view your city as the be-all-end-all, moving in search for something better is always an option. I’m a city girl, with a southern undertone, but I am averse to small towns.  I’ve lived in one and it does not suit me. Okay for a weekend or a vacation, but after that I miss the hustle and bustle of a city. People who are not from NYC can’t understand why you guys are so loud and pissed all the time. Just the other day, I was trying to explain this to my mom.  You guys are so cramped living on top of each (apts, subway) that it makes people crass.  However, there are things that you can only get or experience in NYC.  NYC is the place people love and love to hate. I love the possibilities this city offers, but I don’t want to be a typical New Yorker. I want to retain my Midwestern sensibilities and southern hospitalities to remain human 😉

When I moved to LA, I had some preconceived ideas about plastic people. I did not expect it to be Chicago. What’s the point of leaving Chg to make the new place Chg?  It’s like Americans that go to Europe and complain it’s not the US.  That’s where ‘stupid American tourist’ came from. I did meet typical Los Angelinos, but I also met some good hearted people that I still consider good friends.  Moving is like a new relationship, you can’t hold the new boyfriend to the standards of the old boyfriend.  Every city I’ve lived in had pros and cons. The key is how to make the best of the pros.  If the cons outweigh the pros, then time to relocate.

For what I want to do in my life, NYC is where I need to be. However, I miss the genuineness of friendships and every day civility from strangers that I could expect in the Midwest or south. NYC is the concrete jungle. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere because NYC does not make it easy to transition at all.

To my readers:
When you visit any place outside your hometown, it is not fair to judge it by your hometown. Different regions have their own idiosyncrasies and culture. The point of visiting other places is to get a new perspective or outlook. But first you must understand where you are visiting. I understood Rachel Shteir’s viewpoint in her article critiquing books on Chicago. I did not like it because it reeked of east coast superiority.  It hurt because her critique was nonetheless true. The truth is the truth regardless of who the messenger is. Don’t put on blinders because the messenger is someone that rubs you the wrong way.
I have a website dedicated to visiting and moving to the Big Apple. So if you’re moving to NYC or going to be one of those annoying tourists stopping the flow of traffic in Times Square, please check out my NYC website.
Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.