4 Post-Grad Lessons NYC Taught Me

To quote Robin Schulz, my biggest fear of coming to NYC was becoming a fool for the city lights, becoming too caught up in wanting the glamorous Village lifestyle and too caught up in the focus on making more and more money to have more fun in the city. To my surprise, the opposite has happened — of course I would love to have a West Village apartment in due time — but I have grown to appreciate the smallest things about my life here. To enjoy the ten-minute walk from Union Square to WeWork Chelsea each morning, to look down Park Ave on my way home and still be in awe. To stop and be proud of translating a recent-grad income into a pretty damn good lifestyle in NYC.

Even after 7 months here, the second or third question most people I meet in NYC ask me is “where are you from.” Clearly not considered a New Yorker just yet, but this crazy beautiful city has taught me so many things about myself and I am entirely grateful. It is my hope that at least one of these will resonate with each one of you — happy reading and even happier living!

1. Say NO, nicely and effectively

When it comes to saying “No,” finding the perfect combination of firm, nice and effective can be difficult. It has been so empowering to learn how to say “No” and for people to respect me for it. The most effective tactic I’ve found is to stand your ground with a huge smile on your face. No matter how frustrated they are or if they are taking their bad day out on you, stand your ground with patience and determination.

When you’re smiling, 9 times out of 10 people will realize that they should take the polite “No” and move on. So try saying “No” when you want to and add a smile — seriously, it will change the extent to which you enjoy your career and your life.

2. You always have time for yourself

As I prepared to enter the working world, I heard a lot of “Are you ready for the years and years of long work hours ahead!?” While I do work at least 10 hours a day and commute 30+ minutes each way, I make a point to find time to go to the gym after work, DIY all of my Christmas presents, maintain baller relationships, do pro-bono brand work for a non-profit and enjoy the spontaneity that NYC offers.

After four years of studying your way through every Sunday of the semester, it’s time to take back this glorious day. In all honesty, this is one of my favorite parts of the real world — 5 days of work and 2 whole days to do as I please, plus the ability to enjoy the city you live in on any night of the week. We are paying rent in this city for a reason so take charge of your free hours and make the most of them!

3. Laugh about the little things

It may seem silly, but the thought of moving out of my UES apartment made me appreciate each hike up 6 cases of stairs each and every night. Not only does living at the top of a six-floor walk-up give you killer thighs and something to be out of breath about, but it also makes me laugh about the things I do to live in NYC right out of college. Laugh about the little things or at least find a small way to enjoy them — it will give you a more positive outlook that can carry you through some of your most trying moments at work, on the subway or with those you love.

4. Read

When life is so fast-paced, it’s only healthy to slow down for a good read. Whether it’s for pleasure, to know what’s going on in the world or become a master of your industry, reading is key. It’s also about time we give our eyes a rest from screens and our minds a break from multi-tasking. Bonus for those of us New Yorkers, it makes the subway ride home go so, so much faster. Here are some books I’m loving lately:

  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World How T by Susan Cain
  • Lean In for College Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg