NYC is like no other place on earth, with its own unique set of rules and experience. Learn about how our creative director navigated the first 6 months in New York and lived the real New York lifestyle.
Shaun Lonergan
13 Mins

Where do I even start to explain my New York experience! I’ve been bumming around this crazy city for nearly 6 months, but it feels more like 6 years. If you're planning to move to New York there are some hard truths about this city that are widely known but rarely acknowledged until you experience the city for yourself. New York is the type of city that makes you believe your life is exhilarating.

Everything moves faster in New York, and that goes for the highs and the lows. It is the true definition of living a roller coaster lifestyle. Upon arrival, you're strapped in by the power of the city and the escalating cost of living (meaning you will find yourself broke and trapped very quickly), then you roll out of the gates with excitement and terror. You are not 100% sure what to expect or what to feel. Your nerves set into amazement as your reach your first peak. Then New York drops you quicker than you can scream ‘I love New York”, and you're dumped into a period of stress and panic, to be consumed by the mess of it all. When you think it has destroyed every sense of belief in yourself, New York will give you one beautiful shimmering moment that will make you drop your jaw, wallet, and heart. All too quickly you fall in love all over again. Then you're racing off to strap yourself in for another round of New York roller coaster.

Those moments that change your life are fleeting and easily missed, whether it’s standing in the middle of Grand Central Station or having lunch in Union Square on a road intersection, they come fast and leave just as quickly. If your are planning on moving to New York, have your wits about you. As one of those fleeting moments may be the one that changes you as a person.

I believe the hardest thing to wrap your head around is the sheer mass of people in New York. You truly do not understand until you step out onto a Manhattan street and look down an avenue for as far as your eye can see, then you realise that the skyscrapers cluttering every street are filled with people. It is terrifying and exciting all in one hit. You have the opportunity to meet anyone in this city and that is just a simple fact. Once you acknowledge the crazy potential the town has to offer, you can be excited by the opportunity mother New York has to offer and embarrass her with open arms.

As much as the excitement is all consuming and amazing, there is a downside to the fast paced lifestyle that New York puts on. It can kick your ass, emotionally, physically, socially and financially. There is so much to do and see, you often find yourself overwhelmed and fatigued by being pulled in so many different directions. New York invented FMO, you will find yourself in a mass of jealousy when you compare your own New York adventure to everyone else’s. This is  closely followed by frustration at the simple fact that you can’t afford to do it all. To live the clique New York life of late night parties, rooftop banquets and luxury living you need to have a MASSIVE trust fund or be a self-made millionaire.

The most important thing to remember is: don’t get caught up in all the commotion, just experience New York on your own terms. Just because you’re not a millionaire baby does not mean you can’t explore NY to its full potential. A word of advice, always take time to unplug from the motherboard, Overwise you lose your sense of humanity. New York is a lot of things but ‘natural’ is definitely not her forte. This is one of New York's downsides, it lacks an inherent sense of community and humanity. I’m all for living a hustle lifestyle that New York represents, but that ideal can be achieved with compassion and connection. New York can be extremely isolating and harsh, as everyone has an ‘in it for themselves’ attitude that leaves a lot to be desired. Honestly, I feel like I’m in a time warp, being transported to the late 80’s mass commercialism geed era. Being surrounded by so much power and wealth, but lacking a lot of heart.

New York Subway

Which brings me to my next point: Connection.

It’s bloody hard to connect with anyone when inner-city streets run for miles and people are disconnected by the mass of the population. Often too much choice leads to no choice at all. So search hard for friends and be critical of your choices, New York has a tendency to be a transient city, full of people here to have a good time but not a long time. I’m guilty of this attitude myself. However, you will need friends, people you can turn to when everything goes to shit and it will just accept that. It’s hard to break into a social scene, a lot of the time you’re battling elitism and social structures.

Yes, that is a thing in New York; people will judge you on the way you dress, your job title and your postcode. But keep trying, you have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone constantly, as a simple chance encounter could lead to a lifelong friendship. Once you find a solid group of friends settle in and LEARN. Anyone who has lived in this city longer than you have is a teacher that can help guide your New York experience. On the flip side, don’t bunker down with one crew, I see so many people isolate their experience and opinions by limiting their friendship circle to like-minded peers. It’s the best way to stunt your growth. So always be searching for new connection opportunities to shape your mind and experience. Don’t be afraid to be the loner in the crowd.

The truth about New York is that it favours ‘the bold and the brave’. If you’re willing to push your boundaries New York will be a great adventure. That is the explosive ideal that is New York, you can hit the pavement and have a life-changing experience at any given time. Be open to the energy around you. I had nights that started with quite drinks and then wound up in an elite club watching a full nudity burlesque show, simply because I said hello to someone in the bar entry line. It’s just how the cookie crumbles in this city.  

In order to afford all of these amazing experiences you need to be making a dollar somewhere, which means you are entering a very competitive workforce. The most talented people in the world all flock to New York City, so it is highly competitive in every sense of the word. Come prepared to realize your best potential, but don’t be disheartened when you come to the conclusion that your work is average compared to the immense talent around you. Step up, don’t break down, learn from everyone around you and leverage from their experience. I know it is easier said than done, I still struggle with this daily.

You are constantly kicked in the guts here and told you're not good enough or don't compare. It takes a lot of mental strength to continually pick yourself up and to keep going. But if I can do it so can you, take your time and have an amazing self-care routine. You will need it here. Take an opportunity wherever you can get it, even if it's not the right fit or the perfect role, just see every opening as a stepping stone to your full potential. The truth is you will most likely not walk into the perfect role or even a good job to start off with. New York makes you work for the goods, you are going to have to suck it up and work through some average jobs to get to where you want to be. Take it all in as a learning experience and enjoy the journey as best you can, also always defend your self-worth.  People can be very manipulative in this city, especially in the workplace. Stay true to yourself and always be your own spokesperson. Be your own cheerleader and rally for yourself.

This takes me back to an earlier point on how you can meet anyone in this city. Take full advantage of that fact. Whenever you step out for the day you should be in a networking mindset, talk to people, engage and represent yourself. You're always in an interview when you’re working in New York. Yes, it's exhausting as you always feel like you have to be on, but like I mentioned earlier, take time to unplug and you will be fine.

While navigating your way through all the people and networking, you're going to encounter a lot of crappy humans. It's just simple statistics. The best way to sort through the mess is to simply to be yourself and make sure you are showing up with 50% of the energy to any engagement, in doing this you will quickly realise if the recipient of your energy is matching you, if not, cut them loose and move on, it's not like there is a lack of opportunity to connect here. It sounds harsh, but you simply don't have time to waste on average relations that don't support your vision of the future. Look at everyone as a person to learn from, regardless of age, gender, race or situation. I have been on dates with some of the most negative people I have ever encountered in my life, but I saw it as an opportunity to reflect on myself and realise how far I have come in my own life journey. Everyone is a teacher good or bad.

I'm not here to encourage or discourage anyone from moving to New York, you can read 1000 positive articles about this city and equality 1000 negative ones. You will most likely ignore all the bad points and decide to come regardless. I think the important thing to remember is that New York is not the city you see in the movies and TV shows. Yes, it is amazing and full of opportunity, but it is also a little broken and damaged. The representation of NYC we see on the screen is definitely dead, she is not the centre of the universe anymore. In an increasingly connected world, people can achieve great heights without having to position themselves in a major city like New York. That does not mean she can't be everything for you, she will just break you down and build you up again to make you realise your full potential.


Living That Life