I learned a valuable lesson during my four years of living in New York City: Don’t give a fuck.
Don’t give a fuck about what you’re wearing because the homeless man wrapped in rags next to you on the bus will make you look like a model or the actual model passing by you on the street will outshine you no matter how hard you try.
Don’t give a fuck about your status because there will always be some asshole hipster crooning over how exclusive Brooklyn’s “newest spot” is but you’ll still see him the next morning standing in the same insane line as you, that irritable businesswoman, and that group of obnoxious tourists, all filed in equal rank, all waiting for a fucking cronut.
Don’t give a fuck about others because New Yorkers are the rudest, most impatient pieces of shit you’ll ever encounter but they’re also incredibly kind and resilient and passionate and fascinating. They’re bakers and bankers; pastors and prostitutes; transients and refugees; American dreamers and struggling addicts. They are the scum and the salt of the earth. They’re human, for better or for worse.
Don’t give a fuck. It sounds brash because it is, and alarmingly so. I taught myself: Be numb. Be distant. Be cold. Protect yourself with thick skin and quills and poisonous colors to ward off the outside world because that’s how you survive. You withdraw and learn to separate yourself from the workaday hum of the city to focus on yourself, your career, your craft, your burdens, your dreams. New York City is an island of continuous self-destruction and self-renewal. Living there is a catharsis, an opportunity to reconcile who you are with whomever you want to be. You become selfishly invested in yourself and your own life because that is how you are able to seek fulfillment, to succeed.
But…what is success when celebrated alone? When sheltered from the eyes of others? When realized and then simply poured back into oneself?
I have approached success, but I still lack fulfillment. And so I have learned to reemerge. To reach out. To feel.
I had forgotten how comfortable the weight of a warm hand cupped in mine felt. I had to be reminded of how much sweeter coffee tastes when it’s shared from a morning kiss. I didn’t realize how long it had been since I had heard such a pained goodbye, a genuine laugh, a defeated sigh. These were the appendages of grief and love and resent that I had previously shed to concentrate on myself. Emotions that took others into consideration were abandoned to preserve my own self-involvement. And while I don’t regret that lifestyle, that formula for living isn’t sustainable anymore, in this city or otherwise.
I am opening Pandora’s box. I am lowering the precious guards that have protected me for so long to take a chance on someone wonderful and terrifying and uncertain. And hopefully, when I remember the sting that is the first inkling of heartbreak, I will have learned not to run away anymore.
Beautiful. Such poetic eloquence from @gregasaurus on resilience and emotional vulnerability.