Something I’ve recently noticed about New Yorkers is that most of them seem to think that their own way of life is the best, and the only one. I’ve observed this in my friends, other people I’ve met, and even myself. If someone mentions a deli/hairstylist/car service/borough/anything they like, the response is usually, “No, you’ve GOT to go to my guy/girl/nail salon/borough…. he’s/she’s/it’s the BEST!” without even considering what others like and why they have their preferences.
We’re all very confident in/proud of our life choices. And why shouldn’t we be? Living here is a huge choice. It’s not always an easy choice. It’s definitely an expensive choice. Here, there are so many choices for everything, it’s rare that someone ever has to do anything he or she doesn’t like.
Even the homeless people here are like that- if you’re clearly not going to give them money, they easily move on to the next person, because you’re clearly not going to benefit them in any way. It’s a waste of their time to continue to talk to you. There are 8.4 million people here; most of them are disposable to each other in the grand scheme of things. Outsiders might view this mindset as cold and impersonal, but I think we see it as being more efficient. Isn’t that what we’re all striving for? Time to do the things we care about the most, with the people who matter most?
However, living here is a choice that a lot of people wouldn’t make, for a lot of reasons. Sometimes that leaves those of us who like living here in a state of feeling like we have to justify to other people why we made this choice. I think that makes some of us (=me) come across as snobby know-it-alls sometimes, when really we’re just happy with our choices and want people we care about to experience the same joy. Really.
If you don’t know this about me already (and if that’s the case- have we met?), I like recommending things I enjoy to other people. I’m strongly opinionated about things I like. I’m proud that I live in New York. It’s a great place. When I tell you why I think it’s great, I’m really not trying to tell you that I think it’s better than where you live, or that my life is better than yours. I’m telling you that I’m happy.
I don’t know if this is a common trait of being a non-married, self-sufficient twenty-something without any kids, or another New Yorker trait, but lately, I get annoyed if I have to spend my free time doing things I don’t want to do. And I’m not talking about chores or paying bills (I actually find those things satisfying). I’m talking about any “fun” activity that costs money, involves drinking a ton, or results in my being bored, uncomfortable, or unsatisfied in any way. (Yes, I realize this sounds horribly arrogant and selfish. I just don’t like going out all that much, and if I do go out, I’d rather enjoy a nice conversation with friends over dinner or beers than drunken dancing with strangers.)
In school, when I was around friends more often, I rarely made plans and just went along with whatever activity was going on, even if it wasn’t something I was particularly interested in. The past few years, I’ve stopped doing that. If I’d rather stay at home and read a book than go out to a bar with my friends, then I’m staying at home. I like solitude and quiet, especially now. I don’t want to spend my time doing something I don’t like when I could be doing something I do like. Does that make me selfish?
My social life has radically changed over the past few years (with my declining to have one and all..), but I’m okay with how it is. I’d like to have close friends here, and I know that will happen eventually. However, I’ve been told recently (by no less than four people who might think this blog post was inspired by a recent interaction with them, and that’s why I felt like I had to address it) that I come across as “hard to get to know” and even “snobby.”
I honestly don’t think that’s the case. I’m shy and introverted, but if I find a common ground with someone, I’m usually quick to start a conversation. I just don’t like small talk, and it sort of feels like introducing myself has become more complicated over the years.
Me: Hi, I’m Kristin
Other person: Hi Kristin. Where are you from?
I don’t think people realize how loaded of a question “Where are you from?” is for me. I can honestly say that in the past decade, the only places I’ve ever identified as “home” were wherever I happened to live at the time. (And I’ve lived in FIFTEEN different places in the past ten years…) I’ve even referred to hotel rooms on vacation as “home.” When I started college, my family had JUST moved to southern Indiana, and I still felt like Texas was home. So I didn’t feel homesick in the same way that other people did. When I met people, who inevitably asked where I was from, it always turned into a boring long-winded explanation that made me sound and feel flighty and unstable. And I’ve had that conversation hundreds of times. I hate it. After being at Ball State a year or so, I just started saying “here,” because I lived there year round, all four years, including summers. But then they asked if I was a “townie.” No, I just didn’t feel like telling you my life story. We just met.
As a result of all this, I don’t feel rooted anywhere. I think that also relates to why it was so easy (mentally/emotionally) for me to leave Indy. Of course, I have friends there and a lot of people/things/places I miss. But it had all entered my life in the previous 7 years, and since I had already had to rebuild my network a few times, it didn’t seem like it would be hard to do it again.
I had actually been feeling like it was dwindling. I have a few friends there who I still consider very close friends (and they know who they are…), but I was feeling more and more detached from my “college family.” One group of friends has a certain thing in common that I will never, ever, have, and I’ve always felt like an outsider around them because of it. I felt more connected to the group of friends I made my last semester of school, but we’ve now all paired off (luckily, with each other) into serious relationships, and are living in totally different parts of the country, and aren’t quite the unit we were. I really like Andy’s (well, our) Muncie friends, and I can’t wait to see them in a few weeks. They were very welcoming to me from the beginning, and I miss them.
Even though I have a handful of people I consider close friends, I’ve been very careful not to label anyone as a “best friend” since high school. I don’t like that label. I know who I can and can’t trust, and I know who will be there for me, and I think that should be enough. It is for me anyway.
Maybe I am “hard to get to know.” Maybe I am really happy with my life choices, even if people don’t always understand them. I’ve worked really hard to have the life I want for myself. I want to feel like somewhere is “home.” And I feel like I’m there, or at least very close. I love my New York family of Andy and Tinker. I feel more comfortable around them than anyone else. They’re not replacing anyone from previous parts of my life, but I have to start digging and planting seeds if I want to have roots somewhere.