What Growing Up In New York City Has Taught Me

It wasn’t until last year that I TRULY realized what growing up in New York City has taught me.

I’ve always considered New York to be part of the main fabric of my personality. Growing up here has taught me so much about myself and about life…even though I didn’t realize that until now. I often think about my childhood in New York — the most dynamic city in the world. There’s SO many ways to look at it. But at the end of the day, this city 100% made me who I am today.

It’s hard to put into words what this city has done for me — but I’m certainly going to try.

If you can choose anyone to help you during a crisis, choose a New Yorker.

It’s true: New Yorkers can be rude, aggressive, and mean. But if you’re lucky enough to truly witness the behavior of New Yorkers, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised.

I will NEVER forget what I witnessed on 9/11, and the weeks and months following that day. Sure, I vividly remember the horrifying acts, but what I remember MORE is the kindness, strength, and bravery of New Yorkers. We banded together to raise each other up, lend a helping hand, and keep the memories of so many alive for 20 years.

During the height of COVID-19, when so many people fled New York, I witnessed the compassion of those who stayed. Whether it was through kind words, gestures, or going above and beyond, it made me so proud of where I come from.

The best kind of culture is a mix of them all.

Since I was younger, I was exposed to the melting pot that is New York City on a daily basis. I’ve been surrounded by so much diversity — both ethnic and socioeconomic — and it’s honestly just hitting me now how important that is. I believe I’m so open-minded because of what my every day was like. Living here has allowed me to form my own opinion, see the world through so many different perspectives, and be open to learning about anything and everything. I don’t think I’d have this mindset if I lived anywhere else.

If you haven’t had a New York bagel or slice of pizza, you haven’t lived.

I was once walking around the Upper East Side, and on one of those LinkNYC towers, I saw that it would take you about 5 years to eat from every single restaurant on the Upper East Side. When you think about JUST how many restaurants are in New York, it’s WILD. It’s hard to walk around, and NOT get hungry. And obviously, there is NOTHING like a New York bagel. I know you’ve heard of those places in other states that SHIP New York water in order to make pizza or bagels. Our food is unmatched. You can go to a Michelin star restaurant one night, and grab a dirty water dog the next night.

You’ll learn how to walk. Fast.

You can 100% tell who is a New Yorker by their walk. Even when I’m not in a rush, I’m doing that fast-paced, always moving forward, energetic walk. If you stop in the middle of the sidewalk for ANY reason, you’re probably going to get a dirty look. There’s also this weird metaphor behind the actual fast pace of New York — always keep it moving, no matter what.

The best day can happen at any moment.

New York is a beast. It has its own energy of its own. You literally never know what is going to be waiting for you around any corner. That mindset has taught me that anything is possible. There have been countless times where I had TERRIBLE days, and all it took was an interaction, a chance encounter, or some small moment of kindness that TOTALLY changed those days. Witnessing the beauty of New York on a daily basis does wonders for your mindset. Even if you see some not-so-great things, the perspective alone can shift your mood.

photos by allie provost

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