Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gems of wisdom I've learned from living in Manhattan for one decade

No one, and I mean, absolutely no one, is looking at you while you walk down the street. With the exception of the occasional whistled cat call from street workers / construction men / horny old men, I can confidently assure you that there is not a soul on the streets of Manhattan who is looking at you. Everyone is much too concerned with themselves (or perhaps equally importantly, their phone) to give a single shit about you, your outfit, or your very unimportant presence in their personal space.

Everyone. Is. Replaceable. In business, that is. While this downer-esque mantra may in fact hold true in urban meccas other than the great island of Manhattan, it is particularly so here. White collar Manhattan working folk are a particularly unique breed of humans. Not only are we (typically) much-too-eager over-achievers, we have an unparalleled ability to remove the remnants of former co-workers from our brains instantaneously after they depart. Oh well, we think, and move on to one of two reactions. He/she was great but we will march ahead. OR. He/she wasn't right for the job anyway. Henceforth I assert -- everyone is replaceable.

No matter what you studied in college, what your GPA was, your average daily time spent in the library or, gasp, your top-notch internship, what matters most in your if-you-can-make-it-here-you-can-make-it-anywhere career, is experience. Real, on-the-job, down and dirty experience. Believe me when I say, if your resume doesn't fit on a page, all those pre-real-life shenanigans will be just about as valuable to your employer as a letter from your mom.

Making eye contact with basically anyone is sending an open invitation for personal space invasion. Perhaps you'd like to undress me with your eyes while I sit here quietly on the subway trying to read my book. Or maybe you feel the need to strike up a conversation that I very much do not wish to have. Either way, direct eye contact will inevitably land you smack dab in a direct and deep hole.

Everyone is competing with you. You think you look better than that girl... well that other girl looks better than both of you. And she knows it. You're convinced you've outrun that chick on the adjacent treadmill when you exhaustedly dismount and head straight for the mat. Surely you've been on longer. Too bad when you get up from your ten minutes of weak sit-ups, she's still running furiously and makes sure you know it. That peer of yours at work who you casually happy hour with... she's silently judging and trying to outpace you. Note this is an absolute exaggeration, however is best served to make a point. Take it or leave it.

There is always something better lurking right over your shoulder. In life. In love. In work. Or at least that is the prevailing mindset. And that, my friends, is the trouble on this tiny little enormous island. So be alert of what's lurking right around the proverbial corner. And beware.

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