By the time I moved to New York City at the age of 24, I would say I had gotten most of my shyness and timidity out of my system. For the most part, I could handle myself around a group of strangers and even though I have no family in the area, (or in the entire Northeast), moving to the Big Apple didn’t faze me one bit. As confident and tough as I thought I was at the time, however, I’m even more so today – partially because of life lessons and experience, and partially due to necessity. Here’s how living in NYC has boosted my confidence over the past five years.
I’m not afraid to speak up.
From shady managers offering me a job that paid well below minimum wage, to inappropriate cat callers on the street, I definitely have no problem speaking up for myself anymore. I used to put my head down and let things slide, but I’ve since learned that speaking up for myself is a must if I want to avoid being metaphorically trampled in this city.
I take pride in my career.
Having lived in the suburbs of Bellevue, Washington, I received all sorts of crap for choosing a career in music. “How long are you going to do that before you give up?” “Are you going to be on American Idol?” “What’s your backup plan?” The deluge of idiotic questions, not to mention the whole “you’ll never make it” attitude, nearly pushed me to a breaking point at one time.
Fortunately, in NYC, artists, entrepreneurs, and creative types make this town. And anyone who wants a safe, comfortable, run-of-the-mill life is the minority. In that sense, I totally fit in, and I love being able to take pride in my work and be confident in the fact that I moved across the country to pursue my dreams.
I’m not afraid to get lost.
If I don’t know where I’m going, I tend to get a bit anxious – and that flustered mindset usually leads to me being pretty directionally challenged. But one of the best parts about living in New York City is exploring unfamiliar areas and figuring out all the different neighborhoods. If that involves getting lost, it’s no big deal. There’s always Google Maps.
I survived the dating scene.
Every city’s dating scene has its own reputation, and the dating world in NYC is known as one of the toughest. After experiencing a good chunk of it for myself, however, I can honestly say this: It’s really not that bad. At all. There are so many singletons from all walks of life, and even if you don’t make a love connection right away, it can be fun to get out and meet new people.
I’m way more independent.
With my nearest relatives living in Florida and Minnesota, and my closest friend living almost an hour away in Brooklyn, I’m on my own a lot. It’s difficult not to have a consistent support group within reach, but, if anything, dealing with the hardships of NYC life by myself has made me much more independent. It may not be the ideal setup, but it’s been wonderful to realize that I can handle things and live in this tough city alone. That, in and of itself, is a huge confidence booster.