NYC ‘Genetic’ Survival Kit of Character

Sabrina Smith

English 2150

Final Essay


                                                NYC ‘Genetic’ Survival Kit of Character

This is New York, a combat zone, and everyone has to have an angle or they’re not allowed over the bridges or through the tunnels. Let them have their angles; it’s what they live for. You got better things to worry about, like making sure the people that actually matter don’t try any funny stuff.

                                                                                    -Cynthia Heimel, playwright and author


            This is the city where the pot heads blow freely and cynical bigots are welcome to act out on their bigotry.  It is the land of sarcasm and opinionated rivalry that exists between one controversial individual to another.  New York City is packed with warriors ready to jump on any given opportunity, with persons equally prepared to exercise his or her full democratic rights with the utmost freedom of speech. In a nutshell, the Big Apple has no place for intimidated cowards and doubtful thinkers.   It does have room for narcissistic aristocrats and power hungry businessmen who do nothing but manhandle the island for the latest ways to make big dollars.  This land is tough; thick skin, outstanding personality and an innate understanding of the consequences of competition are the substantial requirements if there is any chance of making it.   It is wise for one to surpass Darwin’s theory of survival and establish NY’s mechanisms, for the city’s social foundation is built on the idea that it is greater than that of any other, and it is.  New Yorkers must be able to comply with such standards, no matter how complex the task may be.    Based on the words of Heimel, it is surely agreeable that the city is a war zone, but it’s not a deathly massacre.  Children of the city know nothing more than working up a good fight, but that characteristic has been genetically engineered into their personalities, for this is the hallmark of our confidence and ability to withstand anything that comes in the way of success and accomplishment.  The constant exposure of the city’s gangster atmosphere can transform the most timid individual into a lion of sorts, open clawed and ready to take on any challenge.

            It is true that a New Yorkers have to possess a level of supremacy and hard core appeal, the survival kit of character also calls for tolerance.  New Yorkers have to be able to handle the negativity that they are going to face every day of their lives.  As an aspiring journalist working for a prestigious undergraduate newspaper at one of the top CUNY colleges in New York City, I have learned to take the criticism that comes from the profession of media.  People are there to ‘bite your head off, and correct you under their standards of what is good and true.  The city is conceited; everyone has their own opinions and beliefs and when someone makes an attempt to object to them, there is going to be a sophisticated war on the hands of the city.  The prospective New Yorker has to find a way to work around that trait.  Besides, there is nothing wrong with good debating, and the upcoming city dweller will definitely benefit from a dispute among veteran city occupants.

            The most important thing to realize when trying to make it in the Great City is that one must be able to stay true to oneself, and demonstrate one’s ensemble of character.  Heimel describes this as having your own angle, and without that you cannot navigate or make it through the city.  This is a metaphoric rule for which the New Yorkers have to live by, and the same goes for the freshmen of the city.  The poetic phrase sheds light on the idea that New Yorkers have to stand guard on our ideas and personal reasoning, while staying dedicated to who they are as human persons.  For example, performers in New York City have it harder than anyone else when it comes to professions.  Their work is considered art, and many times, it is difficult to establish a career when majority do not take it seriously.  However, there is no time for doubt and there is no existence for disappointment.  The New Yorker’s ideology to overcoming tribulations is to simply try harder.  Let the urban society know who you are and what you plan to do, despite objections and oppositions.  Get up and do that scene again, because you will never ­­­­­­­see the success that you long for if you don’t even have the guts to fight for it.  I always admired the fact that New York has such versatility and diversity.  Therefore, this city should have no problem with accepting things, place and people that are different from any other location.  With that being said, there should be no issue with an individual creating their own means of thought and belief system. It is the constitutional right of living in the city.

            Making it in the city requires one more attribute, and that’s street smarts.  It is assumed that most city dwellers are fully equipped with common sense and are greatly educated, for this great place would not be the majestic utopia that it has the potential to be.  Nonetheless, anyone planning to take on a life in the city has to acquire ‘street wisdom.’  One has to converse with the local vendors, memorize street names and fall into acquaintance with popular sights, without the aid of a street map.  New Yorkers never use street maps.  One must learn to network with prominent individuals, and have the eye for talking down prices in a favorite retail store.  The New Yorker uses the city for his/her own benefit, taking advantage of the idea that it is there for progressive utility. 

            Strength, tolerance, street-sense and commitment to oneself are the major elements of surviving this great metropolis.  Without them, you might as go out and start a life in the country, waiting a thousand years for the criteria to change, if it ever does.

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