When I first moved to NYC in my early twenties, I shared an apartment with my then best friend. We used to play silly games together. As an example, as soon as it was warm enough each year we would strip our shirts off and race each other through the streets. The first one down to the River was Undisputed Champion of The World. People would watch us and laugh at our antics. The world was a different place thirty years ago, nobody freaked out if they saw somebody running. Today if I were to run I would probably get shot by an off-duty cop who thought I had just tried to blow up a building.
The world was a vibrant place when I was younger. People would see us running or acting out another stupid act and laugh because we were young. We were allowed to act up and use our space. Back then, I thought that scenario would last forever, but it doesn’t. When you reach a certain age people expect you to act your age. It is not that I have changed with age it’s that the rules of the game have changed. People notice you when you are young but you tend to disappear as you get older and people notice you less and less. It makes you realise just how much energy you get from just being noticed.
Another side-effect of living in NY is that it toughens you up. I was not a tough kid growing up, I was rather timid. I would never have deliberately done anything that I felt would upset anyone. Heaven forbid if I actually ever hurt anyone. That would just have destroyed the younger me. However, living in NY you have to learn to rein that in or you get walked all over. There is such a thing as being too kindly to others. If you are too compassionate to others here then you get manipulated. Your loathing of hurting others becomes a button for them to push. As a younger person I was made to feel hurtful or aggressive if I ever stood up for myself and, as such, I always backed down. Becoming an adult in NY has taught me there is a difference between being compassionate and having doormat imprinted on your forehead.