Sometimes, our expectations sell us short. Sometimes, the expected simply pales in comparison to the unexpected.

So, expectations. Why do we cling to them? Sure, the expected keeps us going, safely. But that’s just the beginning. The unexpected, well, that’s what changes our lives.

New York City… 

I expected to like New York City, but not to fall madly in love with it. You either love it or you hate it. It’s kind of like that first boyfriend. It was either a whirlwind of teenage infatuation or it hurt like hell.

NYC can be brutal. Put aside it’s freaking cold weather (yeah, it’s winter) and the exorbitant rent prices for a moment – that’s another story. Let’s talk about the people for a moment. New Yorkers!

I was sitting in a café the other day. Comfortably in the corner, minding my own business, I pull out my headphones to grab another coffee. I left my headphones out because I was too involved in the conversation next to me. I was a part of it, and no, I wasn’t eavesdropping. It was impossible not to listen to them.

There was three of them. A girl, with close-to-shaved hair was telling her friend about how she’s just started a band. But ironically, she was trying to steer clear from bars because she’s had problems with alcohol. “I didn’t even realise I had a problem because they only knew me, drunk,” she said, without hesitation, as she cupped her hands around her steaming coffee mug. The conversation continued, openly and loud.

That sparked my attention because the girl, like many other people here, talk so honestly in a public place. I don’t know whether it’s because of the sheer number of people here, it’s just what they’re used to. And it got me thinking: how much influence does where we grow up have on our personalities and desires.

The relationship between environment, upbringing & travel  

New York has it all, and I mean, everything. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, be, see, eat or feel, you’ll find it here. I was raised with a lot of space, in a small country town about 30 minutes from the city (and not a big one).

Every part of my adventurous spirit is fulfilled here in NYC. There’s no shortage of culture in the city. Each neighbourhood has their own unique personality, and so does every borough.

Take East Village, for example. It’s got this grungy, rebellious vibe. There’s street art almost everywhere you turn and quirky, rundown bars on every corner. Hop on the subway for two or three stops and you’re at Midtown. You’re going to want to look up at all the tall buildings, flashing lights, and offices. Good luck trying to find a boutique café. This area is corporate America. Just these two neighbourhoods alone feel like two different cities. You can travel to what feels like different worlds in a matter of minutes.

While I do think this does affect our drive to go beyond borders, I don’t think it stops it altogether. Some people are born to travel, and others aren’t. Those travellers won’t find excuses – they do it, no matter where they live.

It’s the little incremental pushes. Those feelings that we get that pull us out into the world. So, for me, when I visit a tiny, hole-in-the-wall, Italian restaurant in Little Italy, my mind wanders to Southern Italy. New York doesn’t  work against me, but encourages my travels.

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