"New York, I love you, but you're bringing me down."
There are days for us city-goers when life can feel overwhelming. I take head shots for all kinds of different people, from real estate agents to stage actors to linguists to non-profit organizers to CEOs to writers to engineers. When I speak to them about living and/or working in the city, I hear pretty much the same thing from most of them, and it goes along the lines of "Man, New York is so great, but sometimes..."
We all know what that "but sometimes..." can means.
Sometimes long hours.
Sometimes crowds, sometimes tourists.
Sometimes rough times with friends or coworkers.
Sometimes the hardship of being away from family.
Sometimes mice found in apartments.
Sometimes rude people on the subway, sometimes not enough sleep.
Sometimes the cold, the heat, the rain, the noise, the lights.
Sometimes that question in the back of your head, "what's so great about [enter personal lifelong dream]? Is it worth all this? Why don't I just move back to [enter home state] and work a normal job and watch normal shows before I go into my normal bed? Why don't I live somewhere where I can see the stars?" (This is what they look like, in case you forgot.)
But then we go go go, we keep going and keep pushing and don't say no and never stop because we're New Yorkers and this is why we're here and we're fighters and we'll make it work, just make it work, just keep going.
I watched an extraordinary independent horror film called It Follows last week. It's the story of a supernatural being that will literally never stop following until it catches up with you. You can run, you can hide, you can drive to somewhere all you want, but eventually, it'll find you.
What an amazing allegory for anxiety. For sadness.
No matter how hard we work, how hard we keep pushing ourselves, those thoughts, those "sometimes" and "what ifs" will catch up with us. If we don't face, if we don't deal, they will become as scary as the "thing" following the characters in It Follows. Anxiety and sadness sometimes exists, it won't just go away.
So what if we acknowledged it?
I love New York. I love my life here. I consider myself lucky to work at City Headshots, to do what I'm able to do and be who I am, however imperfect that is. And because I love it, believe the Art of living in New York includes acknowledging the moments when it's hard to love. Not pushing through the moments, not soldiering on, but taking a second to recognize that to be brave is to be present, not to be fearless.
When we don't acknowledge the difficulties within ourselves, we become less sympathetic to the difficulties of others. Then we contribute to a New York that brings people down.
We can be compassionate in this city by being self-aware and self-caring. By never losing our sense of humor. I genuinely wish this on every headshot client that comes in looking a bit tired, a bit worn-down, a bit strained from the pressure of being a New Yorker. I genuinely wish this for you.
Now here's a clip of Elmo in Hamlet. You know you're not too busy to watch!
x Lee Ann