This is going to be more of an essay than any other pieces I’ve written recently. And that’s because a friend of mine (someone who I’ve recently met) recommended a terrific essay by Paul Graham called Cities . And this essay subsequently got me thinking about my current situation.
I’ve been on a mission, rather reluctantly, to find a place where I felt I belong ever since I “graduated” in December of 2015. I put “graduated” in quotes because I technically graduated, and subsequently walked, with the class of 2016. All this confusion because I took a semester off in the fall of 2013. But I don’t bring this up for nothing. I bring this up because this mismatch in fate with my peers set me off on a rather interesting trajectory in life that brought me all the way across the country first, then the Pacific Ocean. And it’s an ongoing struggle.
When it came time for my final semester (fall, 2015), there was no active recruiting activity for jobs in my field of major. Not in New York City, at least. And that made me rather desperate. I saw how my friends were all settling into their choices for careers, and I felt, because of the semester difference, I was somehow falling behind. I got desperate. And I settled. In a vain effort to stay in the Big Apple, I settled for an internship in an industry that didn’t fully speak to me. That job was my fashion PR internship.
In retrospect, the job taught me a lot about New York City as a whole. How it was filled with egos competing, not to reach the top, but to bring others to submission. That was the message New York was giving me straight out of college. During the sheltered days of college, the city felt like a wonderland — filled with nooks and crannies to explore and keep my mind busy with. But once that protective umbrella was gone from over my head, the city seemed to change its demeanor. Or, perhaps, this was always how things were. Perhaps I was too sheltered during my life in college.
Ironically, during this period in my life, I had lived in, perhaps, the best accommodations I had ever had in New York. Location, cleanliness, and, most of all, the relative lack of cockroaches and other pests. I think I was the most thankful for that last bit. But accommodations aside, this job was the first time I had experienced how cut throat New York could be, and how it wasn’t just enough for one to succeed, others must fail.
I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had to leave. So I quit.
I think the biggest point of contention, for me, was the fact that there was not positive reinforcement. There was no win-win. There was only submission and competition. Though it wasn’t explicitly said, the atmosphere certainly conveyed it with zest. It’s not that I don’t see the need for cut throat competition between titanic egos from time to time — it’s a must in the corporate world. I know. But the fact that it was relentless, and that it was coming from people who probably held themselves in far higher esteems than was necessary — that really made me reconsider the city as a home.