Brooklyn Bridge

5 Ways New York City Improved My Life

Have you ever been to New York City?

My first independent trip to Manhattan happened when I was 17. I remember leaving the train station, stepping out onto the street, and looking up at the enormous skyscrapers. Everything around me seemed to be vibrating.Jo with her high school friends

My introverted and quiet nature didn’t match the hustle and bustle of the people, cars and noise of midtown Manhattan. I felt so out of place in New York City, yet I somehow also felt right at home.

As you can see from the picture, my friends were all guys — which was good, because they did all the talking. They also kept me in-between them so no one would bother me.  Notice how much taller they are, too?  Ha.

I decided to attend graduate school after completing high school and undergraduate college and only applied to New York University. I was accepted and the rest is history.  Thus began a learning experience in personal growth that I think you will learn from and find quite enjoyable to read.

Here are 4 ways that New York City made me better at dealing with hospital stuff:

  • Did you know that birds that live in New York City tweet louder than birds that live in the suburbs?  What does this mean? If you’re going to make it in NYC, you’d better be loud and let everyone know you exist.   Applying this idea to my own life has really helped me fight for my rights in the doctor’s office.When a doctor tells me to take a drug that I don’t believe in or makes a comment that I find ridiculous, I call him or her out on it.  Of course, I don’t do it in the typical “$*&#@!” NYC fashion… I do it respectfully.

  • I haven’t driven a car in over 10 years (and trust me, everyone’s safer that way).  Instead, I walk EVERYWHERE.  Walking is a great cardiovascular exercise that helps to strengthen the skeletal system and drain toxins from the lymphatic system.After 9/11 happened, I decided to never wear heels again (unless I’m going to a fancy party).  Did you know that high heels cause all sorts of damage to the muscles, joints, and tendons of the legs and feet?  My motto is, if I can’t run in my shoes, I’m not going to wear them!  You should always be prepared to run if you live in NYC.  Especially if you’re 5 feet tall, like me (psychos love shorties).

  • If you ever get lost in New York City, don’t ask a police officer for directions.  Cops don’t typically come from or live in Manhattan.  They have no idea where to tell you to go.  I can’t tell you how many times a cop has misspoken and forced me to rely on strangers for directions.The idea of talking to strangers scared the heck out of me when I first moved from Long Island, NY to NYC.  I was a girl who had little experience dealing with anyone who didn’t live near a beach and own a house in Maine.  I believed that all strangers were going to harm me; as if they might leap from the sidewalk and pounce on me like rabid monkeys.   Thankfully, (to date) no one has pounced on me.  Though I have been approached by a variety of insane people.You have to be ready for anything in NYC.  If the guy who is walking in front of you plans to drop his pants and bend over while you’re walking three feet behind him, you have to be prepared to run around him really fast and keep your eyes focused on your destination.Same goes for life in the hospital.  Sometimes you have to focus only on taking care of yourself and stay out of other people’s drama.

  • I grew up in Long Island, NY.  My parents’ backyard was home to chipmunks, squirrels, cardinals and other pretty woodland creatures.  Never in my life was I exposed to the type of nature that lives in Manhattan.A few weeks ago, I was watching Beans so I took him for a walk in a nearby park.  He gets excited when he sees squirrels. During our walk, he saw a squirrel that he started to chase until he reached a fence where the squirrel escaped.

Beans continued to watch the squirrel, so I began to watch as well.  Looking around, I noticed that the squirrel was sharing its land with mice, rats and homeless people.  All in the same plot of land!  What alarmed me most was that I was shocked to see this.  Apparently New York City has desensitized me to many things, but not this.

Being desensitized to things has its benefits.  It means that your brain has adapted to certain stimuli and can no longer react to them, which makes you better able to concentrate on other things.  This can be pretty useful when going to the hospital where you’re constantly exposed to traumatic situations.  You can’t feel upset if your brain isn’t stimulated by what’s going on!

Even though New Yorkers are tough, pushy and get what they want when they want it, they are also incredibly open-minded.  There are very few places in the world where people of every nationality can be seen walking down the street.  New York is one of them, and because of that, residents are much more eager to learn and care about others in ways that suburban/rural folks are not.
When you’re forced to live on top of one another, the way we do in New York City, there has to be some type of compromise.  The open-mindedness of the people in New York has helped me speak candidly about my illness in ways that I never imagined I would.  If I had stayed on Long Island, I am almost 100% sure that this blog would have never manifested itself.  I also would have remained quiet and introverted, instead of fierce and fiery like I am today.  Well, maybe I’m not that fierce, but I am definitely much more fiery.

If you liked this blog post shout about it and share it with your friends.

I love comments, so please leave one for me!  🙂

Peace from the concrete jungle,

About the Author

Josephine Bila

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I’m Josephine Bila, LMSW, a licensed social worker for you — the health seeker who craves an energized body, strong relationships, and the willpower to overcome any obstacle.

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  1. P.S. Steven was squeezing a ketchup packet into his mouth the other day and I said to Grandma, “remember when Josephine used to do that?”

  2. I just spent the morning in NYC, accompanied a friend to doctors visit at MSKCC.  You are so right, you become desensitized to so much when you get accustomed to NYC!  And I love that you talk about how open-minded and caring people are in NYC.  We really get a bad rap!

    1. @KarenYank New Yorkers do get a bad rap!  We may be in a hurry, but we really do care.  I hope your friend is well. I’ll keep you guys in my thoughts!

  3. big cities change ppl …well i live in a city of 21 million ppl an its makes us brave, sharp n quick ..ur 5 points are awesome… comments u do with in (brackets) are great too …keep writing 🙂

    1. @UmarFarooq Exactly, Umar!  Thank you for saying that you liked this post.  I will keep writing.  Thanks for motivating me.  I love your comments!!

  4. I simply spent the morning in NYC, accompanied a friend to doctors see at MSKCC.  You could be so correct, you become desensitized to so much when you get accustomed to NYC!  And also I love which you speak about just how open-minded and caring individuals are in NYC.  We really get a bad rap music!

    1. @Breadlee89  YES!  I am glad you liked the article… and I hope MSK treats your friend well.  I’ll keep you both in my thoughts!

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