5 ways NYC made me a better, more complete person

As pretty much all of you know, I’m getting out of NYC in eleven days, and though I’m still in disbelief that I don’t have a wretched winter ahead of me, I’m excited to leave the city with a much different approach to life than I had when I moved here in fall 2011. New York has made me more cynical, impatient, and skeptical, but I’d say I’m way better off having lived here for two years. Here’s why.

I care about the way I dress now

Before relocating to NYC, I prioritized style over comfort and couldn’t be bothered to own a pair of heels. I took pride in putting no effort whatsoever into my appearance (I mean, sweat pants were my thing for a while…), but that attitude won’t fly in New York City, and when I got my first job at a swanky women’s company, I knew I had to step it up. I couldn’t buy expensive clothes, but they had to look nice, so I eliminated jeans and pants from my wardrobe. It was all about skirts and dresses, even in cold weather. I’d just wear two pairs of leggings instead of one.

I also made a point to take care of little things. My nails are always painted, I won’t leave the house without putting on jewelry or earrings, and I get my eyebrows waxed every six weeks to clean up my face. The surface of my nails are actually starting to wear down because I use too much Essie polish (which contains lots of chemicals), but it’s important for me to look nice now, and every little thing counts.

Essie's "Play Date" is the best
Essie’s “Play Date” is the best

I don’t cry in stressful situations — I seek solutions

In California, I spent a lot of time pulling over on highways to cry about how lost I was. Unsurprisingly, I’m a nervous driver, so anytime I got lost on the road, I panicked. Luckily I didn’t have to do any driving in NYC, but I did face a slew of scenarios that were less than ideal. Rather than cry, I just focused on finding solutions.


Last Halloween, my roommate and I found ourselves stranded in the west village at 3:00 a.m. I’d had a terrible night and was particularly irked after a tipsy friend-of-a-friend dropped (and shattered) her glass of beer all over me. Beyond ready to go home, I was tired, frustrated, and considering strangling her for being a dumb drunk idiot, so I knew I had to leave. Jen and I slipped out of the bar into the chilly, 40 degree night. Naturally, I was soaking wet and we couldn’t hail down a cab for more than an hour. Those who stopped for us refused to take us to the upper east side, even when we guilt tripped them about leaving two women out on the streets at 3:45 a.m. We were cold, exhausted, hungry, and inebriated, and though I wanted nothing more than to indulge all the negativity and whine, I said we needed to find a way out. We eventually made our way up to union square, where one reluctant cabbie agreed to shuttle us back uptown.

I’ve had many other awful experiences in the city, some of which involved walking around in torrential rain without an umbrella, or having said umbrella fall apart in my hands and fly away. In the past, I would have cried during all of these situations, but there’s simply no time for that in NYC. When (not if, but WHEN) I get lost on the streets of LA, I won’t shed any tears. I’ll just keep driving, because it’s either that or, well, get plowed by another vehicle.

I try new things now


I’ve been a picky eater since childhood, and though I still have some serious limits on what I consume, I’ve become a lot more flexible and open minded thanks to New York, which is home to lots of great food and restaurants. You won’t catch me with a plate of sushi or enjoying oysters, but I’ll try any restaurant once — even if I wind up ordering the simplest menu item available there.

I no longer hate froyo

A long time ago, I noticed something odd about the New York City dessert scene. There are many gelato shops and places to get froyo, but the ice cream community is pretty small. Ice cream was huge in my family as well. Every week, my dad asked me to be his “wingman” (partially the inspiration for my book title) and accompany him to Baskin’ & Robbins. It seemed like we were just going to get ice cream, but we used the excursions to catch up on each other’s days and talk about our lives. Then I get to NYC and can’t find very many places to purchase ice cream. I could go to Pinkberry, 16 Handles, Red Mango, Yogurtland, and many other froyo shops, but not for actual ice cream.

English: Yogen Früz products. Left: Mix It Fro...
English: Yogen Früz products. Left: Mix It Frozen Yogurt. Right: Top It (Soft Serve) Frozen Yogurt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This made me resent froyo at first, and while I still prefer true ice cream, frozen yogurt has grown on me. I certainly love sprinkling my froyo with pieces of brownie and cheesecake. Frozen Yogurt is supposedly healthier, and with the right additions, it can taste really good.

I’m not over-friendly anymore

But I do love nice Jess from New Girl!
But I do love nice Jess from New Girl!

You might be wondering why this is a good thing, but in New York, and anywhere really, you need boundaries, especially with strangers. I don’t strike up conversations with random people as often as I used to, and while that could be perceived as cold, I also know what it’s like to encounter incredibly manipulative racketeers who suck others in with elaborate stories. I don’t attract these types anymore, perhaps because I’m overly cautious now, but it’s important not to trust everyone that seems OK on the surface. You can be sweet, positive, and likable without coming across as a naive doormat for strangers to take advantage of.


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