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I was born and raised in the beautiful city of New York and have never left for a period of more than two weeks at a time. With this being said, it is obvious that this city and the experiences I have encountered while being in this city, have widely shaped the person I am today. Ever since I was a little kid, spending time anywhere other than the city was difficult, lonely and unenjoyably. Although New York has taught me so much, one of the main lessons I have learned that has impacted me positively was the idea of people being unafraid to be themselves.
This characteristic is extremely useful and I am given constant reminders of this idea whenever I step outside. The fact that New York City is so diverse makes it almost impossible to be the same person as anyone else as long as you choose not to be. Becoming the person I want to be has opened hundreds of new doors for myself that would have otherwise been unavailable, and I owe it all to the place I call home, New York.
The diversity of the city has allowed me to become an individual unique to my personality and unlike anyone else. I remember when I was a little kid, one of the most important things I cared about was my self image. This sense of image included how other people viewed me as well as making sure I would always fit in, even if that meant changing who I really was to do so.
For example, throughout elementary school I clearly remember making fun of two kids in particular that never were really popular. Thinking back on this, the only reason I bullied them was to show my other peers that I was a funny and cool person even though it was at the expense of these two individuals. Even though I won over a large group of kids in elementary school, I would do anything to go back in time and stop myself from bullying these kids. This guilt and regret demonstrates a distinct change I have gone through in these past years. This change occurred solely because I have since realized that in this diverse city you do not need to be someone you aren’t in order to meet people that will always be there for you. There will always be someone for everyone in New York no matter how strange and unusual you are in the minds of other people, that is the beauty of this city.
This idea of being strong enough to be who you truly are is demonstrated in so many ways every single day in the city. The most obvious and unique example of people in New York showing off their distinct personalities is simply through the clothes they throw on each and every morning. More simpler said by Jennifer Baumgartner, “Our clothing is a reflection of what we are thinking and what we are feeling,” proving that what we wear has a much deeper purpose than just being used for public decency (Baumgartner 4). Every time I walk around the city I see someone wearing something I would never in a million years think about wearing. Whether it is a dress that is made from tissue paper or a neon fedora, the confidence of the individuals who choose to wear what they want instead of the traditional jeans and a t-shirt undoubtedly rubbed off on me. Simply seeing their unusual attire everyday acts as a reminder that it is more than alright to be yourself as well as show everyone else who you really are. This idea of showing who you really are relates to “The Tender Bar” by J.R. Moehringer quite clearly. In his narrative, J.R. is longing to find a voice to replace his fathers ever since he abandoned him as a child. Throughout the narrative it is discovered that he discovers this missing voice in the corner bar where he finds the voices of all different types of people. In New York, many people use there clothing as a representation of their voice which has always reminded me that it is good to speak up.
This relationship between ones clothing and their personality is a point that E.B. White would definitely agree with. E.B. White’s narrative, “Here In New York” describes the New York he originally grew up in as compared to the New York he revisits many years later. The main idea is the fact that so much has changed and that in a way, he has trouble accepting these changes. Although modern day clothing is completely different
the standard attire was years ago, it is surely a positive change. Our clothes allows us all to be who we want to be as well as create a barrier from being someone else. In a famous paragraph, White describes one type of New Yorker as being a commuter: “The city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night,” showing that many people are stuck in a never-ending cycle that makes them similar enough to be put into their own category (White 698). In the end, the unusual and unique clothing I see everyday on the streets of New York acts as a reminder that it is very important to be yourself and not change for anyone. I have since grown passed my ways of trying to fit in by being someone I’m not and make sure that the people I associate with know what the real Sam Dougherty-Messing is like.
Using the confidence and power to be myself, many doors in my life have recently been opened. One example of when being who I actually am instead of trying to be someone everyone will like has helped was my most recent job opportunity. I currently intern at a financial firm located in Bryant Park and was awarded this position for my unique personality that I wasn’t afraid to show. I remember the day of the interview, although I was a little nervous, I told myself I was going to make sure they would know that I am exactly what they see and nothing else. After my interview was over, I remember my current boss mentioning that even though I was not their ideal employee since I have only been in college for a year, my quirkiness and pleasantness was exactly what they needed around the office. As Rosemary Haefner, vice principle of human resources at CareerBuilder said, “Employers are not only looking for people who are professionally qualified for the position, but also someone who is going to fit in at the office.” showing that the perks of being yourself rather than just like the average person has its perks (Dave Mielach). Not only did this experience make me feel good, but if I had tried to pretend that I was their ideal employee by making it known that I would get all of my work done on time and devote all of my attention to this job, they would have just gone and hired someone who was more qualified and experienced for the position. This experience resembles F. Scott Fitzgerald’s narrative “My Lost City” more than one would think. In his narrative, Fitzgerald discusses his life in New York from when he was on top of the world, and then all the way to when he fell off from his pedestal. During Fitzgerald’s most successful times, he was being the writer he wanted to be. He was writing emphatically and was taking everything New York had to offer. Eventually, Fitzgerald started developing a tired tone in his writing and this is when his success flopped. F. Scott Fitzgerald went from living the life he imagined for himself and being who he wanted to be and started becoming a normal person in New York. He began feeling lonely and unhappy and it was seen in his writing all because he stopped being the great person he really was. This example proves that not only does being your unique self open many opportunities, but it also makes you feel better about the life you are living. By being someone you aren’t, or by letting yourself become just like the average person, you are only hurting yourself and ultimately those around you by not letting them witness the greatness you could accomplish.
In conclusion, the concept of uniqueness and individuality has undoubtedly positively affected my life altogether. I owe all of the credit of being the person I truly am today to my experiences of living in New York for my entire life. I can confidently say that if I lived anywhere else in this world, my true identity would not be nearly as full blown as it is today. Something as simple as the clothing other people wear each and everyday in New York has impacted me so much due to the fact that this diversity is rare anywhere else. Being able to blatantly witness other people express who they truly are, even just through their clothing, has made it that much easier for me to express my individual and unique personality. Living in New york is a treasure that so many people unfortunately miss out on.
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