From NC to NYC.. Becoming a New York Woman

Everyone knows that where you are from in large part makes you the person you are.  The person you become is a result of where you choose to take your life.  Being from a small town in North Carolina, I was brought up exactly how one might suspect.  I was taught religion, good manners, and how to be a lady.  Coming from a family of good, hardworking, respectable people meant I had a solid foundation towards a nice future.

As I mentioned in my first post, I had wanted to move to New York from the time I was a child.  This dream stemmed from a family vacation with my friend Heather.  Her family took me with them to New York when I was eleven years old, and from that moment I never saw the world the same.  My town was so small, and as much as I loved it there, I had been exposed to something so much bigger and I was forever obsessed.  It was so glamorous and larger than life.  I didn’t know why, but I wanted to be a part of it.  I remember seeing the women wearing sneakers with their suits, carrying their heels in their handbags, and thinking, “I want to be like those women.”

Both my parents are college educated which set the tone for that course of my life. There was never a doubt that I would go to college.  I wanted to be in a city, so I chose to go to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  I spent eight years in Charlotte, four in school and four working there after I graduated.  I certainly needed Charlotte as a buffer for the most culturally diverse city on the planet.  Prior to Charlotte I had very little exposure to other cultures.  In my hometown, it seemed everyone was Christian, and either white, black, or Latino.   Charlotte has a mix of all types of race, religion, and culture.  My time spent there prepared me insurmountably for my move here.  Without that buffer I do not know if I would have adjusted as well as I have.

I find my personal evolution quite interesting, which is a major part of why I started this blog.  My foundation was built on morals and manners- so no matter what changes I go through, that part of me stays the same.  I always try my very hardest to do the right thing and be polite.  My time in Charlotte educated me on different types of people and how to relate and adapt.  I adjusted my Southern accent to be more neutral.  In addition, I worked there in sales for 4 years, so I learned how to be a woman in business.  Now that I am in New York, I have already noticed some changes.  I’m more assertive and opinionated for sure, but I still practice good manners and wear my heart on my sleeve.  I give to the poor when I can, I smile at everyone, and  I offer my seat on the train if someone seems like they need it more than me.  That’s just how I was raised.

I am still evolving and hopefully always will be. You have to take life one step at a time, and the key is to keep dreaming.  Don’t ever think it is silly to believe in your dreams, because they do come true.  I know this because I am now a New York woman who wears sneakers on her walk to work and carries her heels in her handbag- and I can’t help but smile when I see a little girl watching me as I pass by.
IMG_5472                                                         Me with my mama circa 1991

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The New York Woman

The New York woman is like no other woman on earth.  She is aloof but assertive, effortless but sophisticated.  Everything about the New York woman can be contradictory. She will wear no make-up, except bright red lipstick.  No matter how she feels that day, she is always amazing.

After careful observation of these unique women for the past year, I’ve come up with a list of things that you can do if you want to emulate the classic New York woman:

  1. Wear a black leather jacket at any time of the year.
  2. Just wear black everything. Black is a New Yorker’s color of choice, followed by gray and navy.  Always sophisticated and chic.
  3. Stand on the side of the road instead of the curb while waiting to cross the street. Make sure to look slightly impatient.
  4. If you only have $30 and it’s a Sunday, spend it on brunch with your girlfriends.  You’ll figure it out the rest of the week later.
  5. Eat lots of pizza by the slice but from a spot far from your apartment so that you walk off the calories.
  6. Wear very little makeup. Your best friends are tinted moisturizer, mascara, and red lipstick. The last thing the New York woman wants you to think is that she tried too hard.
  7. Talk shit about New York but then get very defensive if someone who doesn’t live in New York does.
  8. Sit on your stoop while you sip coffee or smoke and people watch.
  9. Seem completely aloof to passerby’s.  Make it easier by wearing oversized black sunglasses.
  10. If you have something to discuss with a friend, do so over a walk through Prospect or Central Park.
  11. Put off having a baby for as long as possible.  If you need encouragement in this just think about the women carrying those strollers up and down the subway stairs.
  12. Be super picky when choosing a significant other because there are always a few million more.
  13. Sit in a cafe and have a coffee by yourself and read the New York Times.
  14. Take interest in politics and be very opinionated.
  15. Go sample sale shopping in Soho when you have the blues.
  16. Know how to hail a cab and give directions by cross streets.
  17. Understand the subway and the city so that you don’t have to check the map for directions.
  18. Wear sneakers with everything. On a Saturday afternoon the New York woman loves to wear black leggings, an over-sized sweater, a long wool coat, and a pair of sneakers. Complete the look with a top-knot, and as mentioned before- nothing on your face but tinted moisturizer, red lipstick, and a little mascara if you need it.
  19. Know current events and be able to talk about them intelligently.  Go to pub bars and strike up conversations with the regulars.
  20. Do everything unapologetically. Be calculated, fierce, & adaptable.. and don’t settle for less.  That is how you ended up in New York City, after all.iloveny

A Year in New York City

Yesterday marked my one year anniversary of living in New York City.  It has been the most incredible year of my life.  I can remember the weeks leading up to my move, and how I would try to envision what my life would be like a year from then.  Would I be successful at my job?  Would I have a group of friends?  I wondered if I would change.  There were no doubts- it had been my dream to move here for 16 years before making the plunge– but I still felt nervous. I remembered reading this quote from The Dawn-Breakers: “Trust firmly in your luck, cling to your happiness and dare to take risks.  They will see you and learn to accept you.”  Those words gave me comfort and I vowed to abide by them as I embarked on my new journey.

When you take a huge risk and move away from virtually everyone you love and start life all over again, you can’t expect to be the same.  Spending a lot of time alone in a new city forces you to reflect in an entirely different way.  Suppressing the things you hate about yourself is no longer an option; you must face them and fix them.  Sometimes I am not sure if New York changed me, or if it just opened a part of my brain that I had not exercised yet. What we are exposed to shapes our views on everything- politics, religion, culture… so moving to New York almost instantly starts to re-shape how you see and understand the world around you, and how you understand yourself.  In a way, submerging yourself in New York City is a hands-on version of getting your master’s degree in culture.

The most beautiful and interesting part of this city is how the people all work together.  There are more than 800 different languages spoken.  People of all different shapes, colors, and religions share transportation, restaurants, sidewalks, challenging weather conditions, you name it. These shared experiences break down the language barriers and force you to see everyone just as they are- human beings.  Because no matter where you came from or what language you speak, most likely the subway or the weather has pissed you off in the past week, so you automatically have something in common with 10 million other people.  On the other hand, you have similar pleasant experiences… like that moment when you are taking a stroll by the Hudson River and the majestic Statue of Liberty comes into view.  Or when you look out the window and see the first snowfall of winter.  The feeling is somewhat indescribable, but the thought that comes to mind is “I can’t believe I live here.” Your chest tightens and it somewhat takes your breath.  People who  have lived here their whole lives tell me that still get that feeling.  In that moment, even if New York has beaten you up in that week, it’s all worth it.

Living here is certainly not always a walk in Central Park (see what I did there?).  When I moved here, I was mostly alone.  I wasn’t in love with my job.  I didn’t know and still don’t know exactly how to make a mark here.  But I trust in my luck, I do things that will make me happy, and I continue to take risks in order to pursue that happiness.  I met my boyfriend here, I have a great group of friends, and I have a job that I like.  I hope that as my life progresses I continue to dream about the future, because what I have proved to myself is that I actually can achieve my dreams.  It is a comforting thought knowing that I have the power within myself to create a beautiful life.  This blog is going to be me reflecting on the past year and the adventures ahead.

Looking forward to the next year.