The ironic truth about living in a densely populated city is though you are surrounded by people, it is easier to go unnoticed than residing in a small Southern town just West of the Tennessee line. You see, unlike those tiny towns I grew up in, in New York, people realize they could know your business if they asked, but most of the time,they just don’t care.
Though we may never realize it – any place we decide to go and grow roots – there will always be more strangers than friends. There will always be people coming and people leaving, and even if we travel the same route or road the same way, every single day, there will always be someone new who shows their face. And the reality of it is, if we’d like to not display ours for the world – we don’t have to. Especially here.
If you want to be anonymous, the second you take a step out of your apartment, you can put iPod buds in your ear, raise the volume on a song with a beat to wake you up, and off you go. To the subway, of course, if you’re trying to lay low – after all, if you ask the monetarily blessed of Manhattan, they feel sorry for the “poor people” who have to take the train. Down the stairs you’ll ascend into the darkened transit and there you will sit alone, with a very rare chance you’ll recognize anyone at your stop. After bravely leaning against a pillar or walking the track to pass the time, your chariot will eventually arrive, but there will be no Prince to lend his hand as you step up. (You don’t need his help anyways). As you ride uptown or downtown (the direction never quite matters), you’ll sit to yourself, music still playing (but probably lowered), as you read the latest magazine or yet another Vampire-inspired novel that I still can’t jump on the bandwagon for. When the doors open to your destination, you’ll exit, without slipping a word to anyone or touching anything. Out onto the street you’ll rush, walking past people eying an underground performer, a foreign family unsure of which colored-line to take, and a man who thought your blue scarf looked stunning on you. But did you notice? No, you were lost away in whatever playlist you picked, thinking about getting to instead of living in. And then, just as one could predict, your feet touched the glimmering pavement and you blended into the crowds, bumping your way through elbows, and mumbling “excuse me” only when absolutely necessary.
It is one thing to be an anonymous New Yorker – the city is actually quite ripe with them. They are those people who’d rather not be bothered by the things you can’t predict or the chance conversations that can actually be the very thoughts hat turn your perspective. They are the ones who simply don’t want to be interrupted as they go from point A to point B, they just want to leave and arrive, without experiencing anything between.
But what they don’t realize is so much of the best of life is in the in between. And like one of my friends always says, “If I’m going to pay this much to live here, I’m going to get my money’s worth!” She’s right – if you’re ignoring the characters and the connections that your address entertains, what’s the point?
After all, if you’re anonymous on the streets, do you really expect to meet anyone captivating? As much as we all complain about our single status and how we are never noticed by the type of guys we like, are we making ourselves available for someone to approach us? As lovely as it sounds that a man was so astonished with our beauty, that from across a crowded subway cart, he battled the straphangers to simply ask our name, and then vowed he’d find us again (maybe through Craigslist’s Missed Connections) – don’t you think that’s a little far-fetched?
Worse than being an anonymous resident is being an anonymous dater – but more often than not, they are one in the same. I’m lucky to not be a shy type of person, but even with as outgoing and normally fearless as I am in the dating market, I have to push myself. I don’t always feel my very best or my most attractive, but I also know that confidence is more important than anything – zits and bloated tummies aside. Anyone, man or female, is intrigued by someone who is intrigued by themselves. And if your eyes are peering toward the pages of a book for ten stops or at your drink for thirty minutes, how will anyone see that fire that only belongs to you?
There are times that call for anonymousness. Sometimes it is refreshing to ignore the rest of the world and go at your own pace, without worrying about what someone else prefers. It is a nice cloak that New York offers to its inhabitants – as if it is saying, “I know I’m tough on you, so every once in a while, I’ll let you disappear.” But remember, that robe is only meant to be momentary -not permanent.
Because the longer you engage the anonymous title and make yourself more into a stranger than a person, the more difficult it is for someone to remember youR name. Or even worse, the more you lose touch with who you are, drowning in a sea of people you’ve never seen and have stopped noticing. Take the chance – take the dive - and try looking up, instead of looking away. Remember to love yourself and know that that love will translate into conversation and give you that energy you need to be alluring. Notice the unnoticeables, listen to the city instead of the Biebs, read the lines on someone’s face instead of the WSJ, and give yourself more credit than just a statistic in this city’s census. Make yourself someone who lives in your own life, in this city, or wherever you are- not just someone who is passing by, anonymously.