There are moments when I forget I live in New York City. I know that probably sounds ridiculous, but sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the daily routine. The alarm goes off, then it is subway, school, work, homework, repeat. I caught myself walking the same streets, seeing the same sights, going to the same place for the same sandwich, every day. But then a cab would honk, or I would look up at the Empire State Building beaming above the city. The flash of clarity: you’re here.
Here, where I’ve spent a majority of the past four years of my life, I have felt invisible in plain sight. Others will probably feel it as they sit in their purple or black gown. Maybe they’re wearing a cap — a baseball cap or graduation cap.
I can liken living in New York to one thing: when you and a best friend know each other so well that when you hang out, you don’t even need to say anything. You can just sit together without uttering a word. You’re not necessarily trying to communicate, and there is no need to anyway. Nothing to fill the silence, no awkward pause, no obligation to make small talk. The silence is more profound and comfortable than noise, but in New York there is so much noise you almost don’t even hear it.
When walking on the crowded streets of New York, surrounded by millions of people, it is this beautiful moment when you’re in the middle of something, but you do not feel the need to stand out.
Sometimes, that is too comfortable. Sometimes you have to say goodbye to all that. Nothing great was ever accomplished by being comfortable. No one wrote their best essays with plenty of time to spare. When I look back on my time here, I realize everything great I have ever done has come from moments when I pushed myself to my greatest physical and mental limits. It came from the heart and the soul. It came from staying up and studying with friends until 4 a.m., when the library isn’t even open but people hid so they could continue working.
We did it because we knew we weren’t alone. In college, and at NYU especially, we could feel this collectiveness. People say there’s no school spirit at NYU, but there is certainly an unfathomable motivation to do and be and create and live, to the best of our ability with no regrets.
Someone once told me, “We all deserve the best, but we also must all earn it every day.” If you can earn it in New York, you can earn it anywhere.