Five Things I’ve Learned in The Big City

Five things I’ve learned in the big city? I know what you’re thinking, this list should be more like 100. Two days ago, I celebrated my first year anniversary in Chicago. This year has been crazy, to say the least, and living in a big city has certainly added to the list. After living 4 years of my life in Des Moines, Iowa for school, big city life was welcomed with open arms.

Being in your 20s in a big city is exciting and fun and every day, some character on public transportation will likely make you smile. That said, big city life comes with certain responsibilities, precautions and every now and then misery.

Here are five things I’ve learned in the big city:

1. Be open-minded. Unfortunately, open-mindedness has taken a narrow definition in our current societal climate. However, I would like to bring the definition back to its roots. Being open-minded means that you are willing to listen to people with different and sometimes even opposing viewpoints from your own. With the big city full of diverse people, it would be a travesty not to take advantage of this by only being around people who think the same way you do.

2. Take your time making friends. While you might want to be friends with every Tom, Dick and Harry as soon as possible when you move to a new city and especially a big city, don’t do it. The lessons your mom taught about choosing your friends wisely wasn’t just for 1st grade. It’s easy to get lonely in a big city when you’re new and it certainly happened to me. But it is also an opportune time to get to be friends with yourself and although that’s a cliché, it’s an important friendship. Trust me.

3. Do not get lost in the crowd. While I certainly mean this literally too, the figurative expression is what I’m going for. While you have to be open to others opinions and expressions, do not let your principles and your life become a sole function of the people around you. Have an opinion that is your own. I will say I learned this lesson a long time ago but it’s not just about having an opinion but having the courage to express it despite what others may think. The big city is full of people with opinions so if you can survive with a few of your own – congratulations!

4. Do not keep up with the Joneses. Having had the experience of not going to law school, job hunting, freelancing and working at a start-up, to say I haven’t felt the brunt of the economy, would be a huge lie. Many of us have.  Then there are all your friends on Facebook or maybe who live in the same city as you, who are splurging like they are six-figure earners. Do not fall into that trap – it does nothing for your self-esteem or the credit card debt that you’ll likely rack up. I would love to be going to Gucci and Sacks Fifth Avenue and drinking champagne whilst shopping as much as the next girl. But I can’t afford it. I’ll shop the sales rack at Macy’s on a good day and Marshalls, TJ Maxx and moderately-priced local boutiques, thank you very much.

5. Breathe, Stretch, Shake…and let it go. What do I mean here? I mean the big city is full of jerks. You will meet them on your train, at your workplace, in your neighborhood, etc. It is almost impossible to get away from them. You will be having the worst day of your life and some rude person will inevitably make it even  more terrible with their attitude. (Don’t forget to not be that rude person). Breathe and let it go. If you can manage a few laughs at the end of the day, well, you’ve learned a life lesson too.

There are things I would love to add this list like get familiar with the transit system, check out all the FREE things to do in your city, be nice to everyone in food service, etc. But I figured the things you can’t (or shouldn’t) look up on Google, might be the most important.

Do you live in a big city? What are the most important lessons you’ve learned? Or did you move to a new city recently, what lessons are you learning?

Kovie Biakolo

Kovie Biakolo is a Drake University Marketing Graduate. Originally thinking she was headed to law school in Chicago or a year in Spain, Kovie found herself in the Windy City in digital writing and marketing for over a year. Currently, Kovie is in graduate school for Multicultural and Organizational Communication and started a blog, Life At Twenty Something to write about the good, the bad and the ugly of the twenty something life.

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