There are a lot of overrated cities in the world:

Los Angeles. London. Rome. Phuket.

Most of what makes a city “overrated” boils down to a matter of opinion, and more importantly, a matter of impression. When the stakes are high and you’ve built up an image of something incredible in your mind, there’s usually little room left for anything other than disappointment.

I’ve felt this way in a lot of over-hyped destinations, as I’m sure all of you have at some point in your life.

My only two exceptions to this rule? Paris, and New York.

Two of the most praised, admired, and loved cities in the world. Where dreams come to reality. I’ve visited each a handful of times (and as in the case of Paris, lived there for four months), and every time, I leave more impressed than when I arrived.

New York has always felt special to me. I grew up on the East Coast, in the sleepy suburbs of Philly, and knew that I wanted to return one day. There’s just something about The City that’s always felt like home to me. Comfortable. A vague sense of familiarity and belonging, like I had maybe lived there in another lifetime, as another version of me, not too long ago.

The crowds. The cold. The brusque way the bodega lady shoves you your receipt and points you out the door. All the thing that people hate about this place, I sweep up and wrap myself in like a warm blanket. I can’t get enough.

To me, New York is quiet. I always built up this image of chaos, and noise, and celebrities, and glamorous nights out, and yet the day-to-day normal-ness of everyday life is what draws me in, every time. New York is energetic, but it’s a quiet energy. A subtle hum that permeates the sidewalks and electrifies the skin like a static cling. You don’t always think about it, but you can always feel it. Your subconscious always knows that here, you are at the center of everything. It is the feeling of being alive, and of being absolutely, overwhelmingly grateful for having the opportunity to spend even a small moment of that life in a place so special.

We spend a lot of our life making excuses. Being comfortable. Telling ourselves, halfheartedly, that as long as we are content, we will be fine. Just fine. Only fine is never a permanent solution—sooner or later, fine catches up with us, and we become restless, or bored, and we return to wondering about whether or not this is “it”—whether this is all there is.

I think that’s what really makes New York feel so right, why I always need to be there, why I’m always sad to leave. It is The Land of Opportunity in a country that is slowly starting to no longer feel like The Land of Opportunity. Creators are born in every corner of the world—but when you’re here, you have no excuses. There is everything. The resources you need, for whatever it is you want out of life, are here. Your path will still have its challenges, but at least there is a chance. There is hope. There are no excuses.

Joel tells me that I have a tendency to romanticize places, and perhaps that’s what I’m doing with this city: donning the proverbial rose-tinted glasses, if you will. But I don’t take for granted how difficult chasing your dreams can be, how hard it is sometimes to choose life over comfort.

I just think that opportunity and inspiration can make it a hell of a lot easier, and New York City is one of the best places to find either of them.

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