Sunday, January 8, 2012

31 Writers, 31 Lessons-Lesson 8: Everyone is Fighting a Hard Battle (Be Kind!)

Okay, this is a special story. Kate was one of my first blog followers, way back when. I didn't know much about her, but she would always leave lovely comments here. Somehow I intuitively felt that we would meet someday. I love her blog (Sunflower Existence) and realized right away that this person is highly creative. A budding actress in NYC, she landed the part of Dorothy in the national touring production of The Wizard of Oz. When her tour came to Washington State, she got the monk and I comp tickets to see her! We actually went out to dinner and coffee after the show! She was the first blog friend (besides my friends and family members) I got to meet in 3D! Here she is to share her insights about living in New York City:

When I was 18, I moved from a cozy suburb in Texas to the heart of New York City for college.

I was so excited for the change, anticipating a busy and exhilarating new life. And I got that. The subway system, the crowds, the constant noise and glow… and I was truly glad to be a “city girl,” far away from my little farm town.

There is a common idea among Americans that New Yorkers are rude. I was certain that I could bust this myth. “New Yorkers aren’t rude, they’re probably just busy and smart,” I thought to myself, happily studying the subway map and learning all the local coffee places.

However, I was not anticipating something: loneliness. It was hard to make friends at a campus where most kids could go home to Long Island over the weekend or out drinking at dive bars, so most of my time was spent walking the streets of the financial district by myself and people watching. I began to observe the lack of doors being opened for others, no apologies made when someone bumped another person. I observed subway fights and people yelling at cars and pedestrians. I saw a man on the 7 train get his computer stolen by a kid who looked no older than 14. I saw multiple people crying on the subway. Later, when I got a job at an exotic pet adoption center, I was yelled at almost daily by angry customers demanding I take their pet hamster or refund their used aquarium (I can’t do either.) Needless to say, I was getting bogged down by the city I was so determined to love.

I can’t say there was any epiphany moment for me. What I can say is that I tried my best to keep my head high. I got a job playing Dorothy on the national tour of the Wizard of Oz (I am studying acting) and left the city for a year. In that year away from New York, I came to miss and appreciate it. And slowly I came to realize why everyone believes New Yorkers are rude: they aren’t rude. They just have to live their whole lives publicly.

In a suburb, you can vent all your frustration on your personal time in your car or your house. In New York, we rarely get that kind of privacy, so any emotions that people have are exaggerated by the fact that everyone can see how we are. So, when tourists come and wonder why a New Yorker won’t apologize when they bump into them, it’s not from rudeness: it’s from trying to give you privacy. It’s a unique kind of respect they’re showing, a result of living in a crowd.

Living in New York is hard. Even if you are wealthy, (and most New Yorkers, like myself, are not) you still must deal with the harshness and poverty daily. I am still learning to be more accepting. I get frustrated with the crowds and the expenses just like everyone else, but I am learning to deal with it. And I must keep my head high still, and remember that everyone else is having a hard time too. So we must be forgiving.

I love New York. Of course it’s difficult. But I know that I’m never alone, because everyone else is living the hard life too. So, I suppose the lesson is “be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a hard battle.” Forgive those who seem rude; I’m certain they aren’t trying to be.

And try to come visit New York, too. I promise it’s a wonderful place.

Kate Bristol is a 21 year old native Texan living in New York City. A working actress since the age of 11, she has been a voice actor in many English-dubbed anime cartoons such as Dragonball Z and was last seen as Dorothy in the national touring production of The Wizard of Oz. She graduates from Pace University in the spring of 2012, where she has been a school blogger and writing tutor. Kate hopes to write a really cool dystopian novel one day, though she isn't sure what it's about yet.


  1. happy new year to you, it is always nice to follow you

  2. Kate,
    Love the post and yes, I agree that in a big city problems or difficulties can be amplified. It's an important reminder to give people a break...even ourselves! Thanks for posting!

  3. Talk about a gutsy young woman!
    I have the feeling she could have an amazing life before her.

  4. Hi Rob-bear-Yes, she's one to watch.....and read!