Independence & New York City

Attending college in New York City gave me freedom at age 18 that not all people get to have. Instead of being confined to a set community within the boundaries of a gated facility, the entirety of New York City became my campus. I had access to a wide range of public transportation that could take me everywhere, from Brooklyn to home in New Jersey. 

With this freedom, I grew a lot. I learned to get to places on time by foot instead of by my parents driving me, to manage my own bank account and completely live off of my own money (I was not given allowance), and to simply look out for myself and keep my health in check. I found myself enjoying spending time alone, for it was so liberating to not anybody to hold me back from doing whatever I wanted to do. 

My mindset regarding academics and career evolved as well. Now that I no longer felt directly pressured by my family to do school-related things, my will to achieve was more my own than ever before. I joined several organizations, took more interest in my studies, and set my sights early on a certain grad program. My goals became my motivation, and accomplishing any steps towards them was the most fulfilling feeling.

However, there is a point at which independence can limit you. Creatively, it restricts you to only what you can accomplish yourself-- which is nice, at times, for it feels great to know a creation is completely your own. However, even though I fear my own ideas being compromised, I often find that when I work with others, the result is better than it would have been if I were alone. It is always nice to have fresh  perspectives on the table. This goes the same for other tasks, whether it be for your career or any personal endeavors. Having the help of another when needed can certainly be beneficial.

Independence could also be very lonely. In the beginning of my time in New York, I felt very alone. I often wondered whether or not choosing to attend a college with a very weak sense of community was a good idea, and if I would have been more mentally stable having stayed away from an ever-busy city that seemed to drain you at times. Relationships seemed to take much more effort than ever before, as I did not see my friends on a day-to-day basis by default. I couldn't seem to find a set group of friends to call my home, and did not know anybody quite well enough yet to share my deepest thoughts with.

Over time, I learned to better accept the times of loneliness. It became sort of therapeutic, even, at times. The city moves fast, and you can't always go, go, go. I am starting to say 'no' more, and trying to focus solely on a few things I feel really deserve the effort. I appreciate that my school friends, who themselves became more independent after moving to the city (if they didn't live there already), understand that I am not always available, and I learned to understand the same for them. There are times I won't see a friend for weeks, or even months, but we can start back right from where we left off. I really love that, and am thankful to have such people in my life.

I truly believe there is great value to the independence one must learn in New York City. Although it can be daunting and disheartening at times, the things you experience, no matter how small, help to strengthen your resolve and forge a stronger mind. I hope others feel the same.



  1. Great post Maddie! Independence is such a big thing - it can either make or break you. I moved away to another country when I was in my twenties and boy, was it hard! But at the end of the day, you realize that you have no one to rely on but yourself, and that makes you super! Looking forward to reading your NYC adventures! /