Little Town Blues

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's been three days since arriving back in Athens and I still can't shake the little chills that run up and down my arms when I think of New York. It's like having a crush on a boy that sits on the other side of the room in class. You can just see him sitting pensively over there. There are 30 feet between you and him. Every now and then he glances your way, and your heart flops a little.

Attainable, but not quite there yet.

The weekend I spent in The City that Never Sleeps was life changing in the skills and knowledge I gained about networking, the Great Job Hunt, the advertising industry, and of course, the mysterious City itself. But most of all, the surprising knowledge I gained was more personal: I felt alive in New York. I talked to strangers without hesitation and made new friends with every heartbeat pulsing along to the rhythm of the town. I forced myself to be confident and I sat up straight and didn't worry about what other people thought of me. I dressed loud. I laughed a lot. I asked questions and sat in the front of the room. I took a heavy gulp of reality and funny enough, realized that New York may be a possibility, and it may even be closer than ever to coming true. I have dreamed and dreamed and dreamed about taking on New York and its history of being a city of rebirth since I was quite a little girl. This is that dream that keeps me up late studying for tests that I don't want to take. This is the dream that keeps me asking for more challenges. This is the dream that keeps me moving and moving and moving forward. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. To be honest, it has always been just a dream, and I never thought I might actually have a shot at moving and working there. But after this weekend, I got a taste of what it's like to marry reality to your dreams, and it's really not as difficult as I made it out to be. Mostly it takes confidence and letting go of the fear that things won't work out your way. Because they won't work out exactly your way, but that is the mystery and the beauty of life right?

So what are all these life changing lessons learned among city blocks and avenues? First, and most importantly, I learned how to network. I think I get it now. People want to help you out. You have to be confident (confidence seems to be a recurring theme in growing up...) in yourself and let go of the thought that you are being annoying. If people have time, they'll respond. Humility and a sincere sense of curiosity seem to go a long way. And I also learned the power of a brief email. (That one I'll have to work on because I have a tendency to never. shut. up.) I heard the term "sophisticated stalking" multiple times and was taught the power of social media and the digital age. Networking is a powerful tool in business and one I am certainly excited to practice. And of course, maybe someday when I'm living in a big 'ole city I'll get some student questions myself and will be happy to help.

Next I was instructed in the magical world of advertising. Since deciding my major in Portland, Oregon at 17 (remind me to tell you that story sometime) I started paying more attention to advertisements and ad campaigns. I geeked out at one of the ad agencies we visited (JWT) because they have the Macy's account, and were the ones that created the "Yes, Virginia" campaign and holiday special AND organized the fundraiser where if you wrote a letter to Santa, Macy's donated money to Make-A-Wish. (Which I was familiar with because all us Chi O's participated and wrote letters because Make-A-Wish is our national philanthropy!!!) Visiting JWT kind of felt like meeting the director and producer of your favorite movie. I was very excited at the behind-the-scenes look. In summary, this inside look at the ad world solidified my need to be involved in this industry. I have so many ideas and so much to learn.

Finally, I got a dose of the local side of NYC. Wow. The first thing that pops into my mind is how stylish everyone is. This might be a chicken-or-egg scenario (Which came first: New York street style or street style photographers?) but regardless, everyone looks like they live in a permanent fashion editorial or tucked among the posts of ManRepeller or Garance Doré. Lots of black skinny jeans and wide brimmed hats and ankle booties and FANTASTIC coats. Seriously, the variety or amazing coats in New York is pretty spectacular. I can't wait for it to be cold down here. Beyond fashion, I got a taste of how expensive New York is. Every meal was a standard $25. And that was getting the cheap thing on the menu. It will be hard adjusting from my standard $6 Chipotle. And the first thing anyone mentions when you ask about the cons of the city is rent. Like politics and salaries, New York rent is quite impolite to discuss. New York City is diverse. You overhear a bajillion different languages in a day and there is virtually any and every kind of ethnic food available to eat. New York feels more like a European city than an American one, and that is exciting. And of course the city is loud and urban and sprawling and basically a huge matrix that could swallow you up.

BUT: New York is also (like I mentioned before) a challenge and a place to grow and mature and be reborn. Every New Yorker (whether native born or transplanted) was truly someone else before making it in the city. And they all lit up talking about their adventures despite the cold and the rent and the gridlock.

So all in all, I learned New York is worth fighting for.

{currently listening to}

these little town blues /
are melting away /

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