When you live in NYC, you're around people wayyyyy more than the average American. You see people at their worst, because you see them all the time. Some say that it is a right of passage to shamelessly cry on the subway (been there, done that!).
It's really a misconception that New Yorkers are mean people. I don't think they're inherently meaner than people anywhere else; I think they're just in a hurry and frustrated. In most American residential areas, you only have to be around people when you choose to. You go from your isolated home to your isolated car to your isolated office. Here, you live really close to your neighbors, take crowded elevators, travel by public transit, and often work in an open-concept office (desks right up on each other with no walls or dividers). There's no avoiding people. There's very little alone time.
I really think that even the sweetest Texan would start getting frustrated with people if they were around them all the time. It's natural. You see it with family -- the people you're closest with frustrate you the most.
Well, in New York, the person you're closest to is everyone.
I could write a huge list of reasons why people become really frustrating here (stopping in the middle of the stairs to text, stealing your cab, yelling at you for no apparent reason, etc.), but I don't want this post's focus to be negative. That's too easy, and not the point.
The point I'm trying to make is that you don't have to be a slave to that negative mindset. You don't have to think curse words every time someone bumps you with their bag, or slows your commute my 3 whole seconds.
Take a mental note when you see people at their best
Yes, you see people at their worst here. BUT, you also see them at their best.
We often overlook beautiful moments, because it's easier to complain and focus on the negative. Those beautiful moments are present, and I think they're more beautiful here than anywhere else because they really stand out.
Here are some of my favorites:
- A parent reading to a child
- A stranger helping a new mom carry her stroller up the stairs
- Young love
- The look of amazement on a tourist's face when they see their favorite city landmark
- A friend comforting someone who just experienced some sort of loss
- A guy standing up for a girl who is getting hit on by an old creeper
- Girlfriends having coffee and catching up on old times
- An older couple holding hands and strolling down the Brooklyn Promenade
- A husband holding his wife tight so that she doesn't fall over when she's standing on a crazy subway in heels
- A stranger giving up his/her seat for a pregnant woman or an elderly person
- A compliment from a stranger
- An impromptu talent show (song, dance, poetry, etc)
- A parent teaching their toddler manners
- A quiet baby that just smiles
When you feel inclined to yell at someone or to tell them off, don't. Take a breath. Think about it. Is it worth it? Is it really that big of a deal?Probably not.
Try to put yourself in their shoes
It's natural to get mad when someone shoves past you or steals your cab, but maybe they're late for an interview. Maybe they're in a bigger hurry than you are. Maybe they need it more than you.
And when someone is being rude, keep in mind that maybe they're having a bad day. Maybe they just got laid off or experienced a loss in their family that is putting them on edge. We've all been there! Remind yourself of when you've felt the urge to be less than selfless. People are just people.
Create your own beautiful moments
You don't have to wait around to hope to see the beauty in humanity. You can create it! Go out of your way to be kind to people