New York City lured me by the same sirens everyone hears. The place to prove what you’re made of. “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” is the resounding mantra of both new and weathered residents. It’s a specific character that thrives in New York. No other city markets itself so effectively to those characters.
“If I can make it. If I can just make it”. That’s my echoing thought on the J-train to work. Walking this city impresses a confidence that’s just shy of invincibility. It comes with the carrot of being so very close to whatever you’re after. Your dream is always one block away.
Nearly everyone comes to New York with a dream. Their dream signifying some form of achievement. Does anyone actually end up believing they made it?
It’s impossible to quantify what we cannot measure. So how are we measuring our personal achievements? Are people who made it the stars of a Broadway show, or those who could afford tickets for front row seats? There is no sure answer, yet we project ourselves into both of their shoes – imagining with certainty that they hold higher opinions of themselves.
There are hoards of people who see themselves as being “successful” – whether their scale is financial or intrinsically measured. However I’ve come to believe that the idea of “making it” has very, very little to do with success or achievement. It has everything to do contentedness.
New York is branded by a bullish energy that charges for more. More of what? It’s this that causes an internal conundrum.
What makes the City unique is not amenities it offers, but a character it attracts. For as “diverse” as it’s viewed, there is most definitely a cultural homogeneity on the island. A lusting for more that is the greatest thirst New York promise to quench.
By any conventional standard, all New Yorkers are successful. The competitiveness of business and culture quickly drowns mediocrity. However, a true New Yorker will probably never “make it” – in their eye’s. It’s just not their nature.
New York is not a place you go to be happy. It’s where you go to prove something, to yourself. Believing you’ve made it in New York demands lasting contentment with achievements made during residency. And that may very well be too great of an ask for those of us who were attracted to the City in the first place.