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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

New York City - I think I'm getting old

I took a "vacation" to New York City for the past five days and my conclusion from the trip is that I'm not fit for the big city lifestyle. It's a relatively supported conclusion given that I'm probably the healthiest I've ever been and invested heavily into the "hustle culture," so it can't be my physical condition or my lack of interest in what NYC stands for (or I'm just being a wuss and need to write about it to feel better about myself). That point of comparison comes from the last time I went to the Big Apple and my body told me very strongly this time around that I can't function recklessly anymore.

I think NYC is always a good measure for where I'm at in life - I just have to reflect on who I hung out with, how much money I spent (or felt comfortable spending) and how I feel on the plane ride back. My first immersion into the First City's lifestyle (no, I don't have a Napoleon Complex from Chicago being called Second City) was three months into banking when I decided to take a last minute flight for what became the most "investment banking analyst douchebag weekend." A lot of my friends happened to be in NY that weekend, which is probably every weekend before and after the pandemic; I distinctly remember running to the subway and purchasing a plane ticket on my phone as I got seated on the Blue Line. I'll spare everyone of the cringey details but I recall investing more in "night life" during my 30 hour stay there than the entirety of three months spent in Chicago prior.

I went back to NYC three times since then (including the trip I concluded this morning) and I'm not ashamed to say that both my excitement and energy for the place has rapidly degraded. And I don't think this is necessarily a reflection of my health or the natural human progression for interest in a location, but more of a solidified realization of who I am as a person. I can also see this being my hypersensitive liberal arts side kicking in and putting meaning to things that has no actual meaning, but (at least at the moment) every trip to the Big Apple has shown me that I'm more of a suburban lifestyle guy. Perhaps this is me excusing what could be deemed "weak behavior" - New York City is often associated with the hustle, a place you can only survive and enjoy when you're young and overall tell yourself you're happy paying $2,500 for a shack with no windows while working at a "white collar job" that pays less than being a server at a KBBQ restaurant (at least you get free snacks and company swag!) As much as my snarky commentary bled into my succinct description of the city, I actually do think there's merit to everything I just listed. It's one of those things in life that's important to get out of your system and the inability to live frugally for a concentrated amount of time could help you rapidly realize that the lifestyle you're living is not sustainable in the long run and contributing to your 401k may actually be a good idea.

Outside of running into mayor candidate Andrew Yang (this is not an endorsement!) and two "fans" from Youtube (who I told to stop watching my stupid videos), I think the most NYC thing I experienced this time around that kept serving as a reminder that this was not for me were the Subway rides. I really don't know how people do it 365 days a year - the smell, constant delays, lack of direction and proper signage - the list can go on. Getting on the MTA is a great (and perhaps the worst) symbolization of why NYC is not great - paying for mediocre service because you have to, an ironic lack of autonomy (I really miss driving) in what should be the most "freedom preaching" area in the world and a constant need for the hustle because that's what everyone else is doing!

I'm being overly reflective and if you live or lived in NYC you're either thinking "this kid can't handle the lifestyle so he's blogging about it, what a NYC thing to do" or "wow this reminds me I have to get back into blogging about how much NYC is the best." Regardless of what burrough of thought you reside in, I firmly believe you'll never want to go back if you spend one week in Irvine (or any other nice California suburb for that matter). Or I'm just old and lame and can't handle the hustle. See you in September when I'm in town for Gov Ball!

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