Life of a New Yorker
I’m not sure exactly when it starts. Yet when it does, you know that nothing will ever be the same again. What is it that I’m talking about? It’s the moment that you realize that the place you relocated to is beginning to change you. In my case, it was a few weeks after I moved to New York. First example: I had just gotten off work and was walking to the train station. My friend texted me and told me that she didn’t get the part in a movie that was clearly right for her. The part was created based on her, but for some reason, the casting directors decided to hire someone with more “experience.” I was livid! I called up my friend and left a voicemail that started with, “They can go f*** themselves.” Then I proceeded to say that the casting directors had no clue what they were doing, they were so wrong, and that she should have gotten the part. I then added that this is exactly why my Grandfather left the industry and decided to work for himself in a one-man show because the industry was so messed up. Then I said something like, “I love you and hold your head up high because you’re better than them.” After I got off the phone, I was proud of myself but also surprised. What I said to my friend came so naturally to me, but it was so different than who I was in Los Angeles. That woman would have said, “I’m sorry. They clearly picked the wrong person” then dropped it.
Something woke up inside of me when I moved to the Big Apple. It’s not as if I wasn’t myself in Los Angeles, I was just a different version of myself; I was a softer, kinder version. I was fitting into the personality of the city. To be honest, LA was never really me. It never fit who I was or how I liked to express myself. This is no offense to people from Los Angeles. My best friend grew up there and is one of the best people I have met in my life. What I am talking about is the LA “personality” I encountered: the passive-aggressive person who smiles to your face but talks behind your back. I am the opposite of that personality. I say what I mean and don’t like to be anything but authentic to people. I have always done what I wanted and spoke my mind. There were many times throughout my time in LA that I would share my blunt opinion and be met with nervous laughter or someone who changed the subject. Over time, I got used to it. Yet I never felt like I fit in. After visiting New York in April 2019, I finally understood why I felt out of place. As strong as I was out of place in LA, I fit in as strongly in New York City.
I knew on my visit that spring that it was where I was meant to be. So, it came to no surprise that when I moved there, I not only finally fit in somewhere, but I could be myself 100%. The first time this became a true reality for me was when I was talking to a stranger in line at a store. I spoke my mind about something and instead of being met with nervous laughter, I was accepted and I and the stranger continued our conversation, talking honestly with each other about a subject that I don’t remember. After that conversation, I breathed a sigh of relief and quietly told myself, “I’m home.”
Still, it is one thing to be able to have an honest and comfortable conversation with a stranger with no filter. It is another thing to realize that you feel comfortable enough to be yourself, no holds barred, in a new city. This freedom exhibited itself in many aspects of my life. In dance class, I spoke honestly with my instructors, telling them how I felt about rehearsal or where I thought I needed improvement. At my job, I was honest with my boss if I felt uncomfortable about something. I also felt free to go after what I wanted in an apartment. When visiting prospective roommates, I interviewed them and told them exactly what I was looking for. Then when the lockdown happened, this freedom gave me the courage to start my own company and do what I needed to do to make it through the quarantine.
I was bolder, braver, and smarter. I no longer held back and it showed in what manifested over a short time: finally letting go of a bad job, finding a great roommate in my dream neighborhood, improving my dance steps, and getting clients for my new business. I was in a new existence and there was no turning back. I sure didn’t want to. This is what happens when you go after exactly what you want and find a place that is right for you. All of a sudden you develop this courage that you never had before because you’re finally living the life that is right for you. That is what this great city has done for me. I can’t wait to see what happens next.