Hiding In Plain Sight
New York City is a great city. The food, the wine, the women… it really does provide the best selection of everything and anything that one could ask for. There are over 8 million people in NYC, not including those tourists whom we all love so very much. With so many people to potentially interact with, it may come as a surprise that a large number of New Yorkers are rather lonely.
New York is a large city and has a tendency of remaining so hectic that the experience often is somewhat overwhelming. A common sight in the city that never sleeps is that person sitting off to the side, keeping to him or herself — fading into the background. No one really notices him and he doesn't bother to approach anyone or to start a conversation.
Whenever I notice one of these quiet neighbors on his or her lonesome, I think to myself: why bother leaving the house if you don't plan on interacting with the outside world? These people seem to want to stay isolated, yet at the same time they wish to be seen.
Walking around New York, you will notice people in coffee shops, restaurants and parks sitting and either reading or doing work. I have done so myself many times — it's nice to grab a coffee and sit somewhere other than your apartment. Although, I wonder if good coffee is all that is in play here.
I wonder if there isn't a subtler reason behind why so many of us choose to place ourselves in eyesight of others while we do things that are meant to be done alone. One may argue that some are more focused and more productive when they work outside of home or outside of the office — that there are fewer distractions.
How there can be fewer distractions in such a public place with people bustling around and noise surrounding us I do not know. What I feel is that many of us go out and place ourselves in such public locations in order to be seen.
That's what we really all want, isn't it? We want to be seen. We want our existence to be acknowledged. We want to feel as if we are important, needed — as if our disappearance would make a difference to someone, anyone. We may tell ourselves that we like to do work at Starbucks because we enjoy the atmosphere, but what most of us really want is to be noticed.
This is not something that most of us will admit, so I would advise being wary before going up to a New Yorker anywhere and starting a conversation — we aren't known for being the kindest, that would be the Canadians.
Take your love life for example. Before you can have a relationship, you need to meet the right person. How will you meet them? Where and when? I feel as if people leave too much to fate. I am sure that planning to meet the right person won't pan out exactly the way you expect it, but everyone should consider the 'perfect meeting.' If you were writing a novel or screenplay, how would you have yourself meet the love of your life? It's a fun mental activity.
We rarely think about such things, which I believe to be a mistake. The one thing about love that I know for certain is that it is what you make of it. The more romantic you want your relationship to be and to develop, the more romantic will your thoughts have to be on the subject. Living in the city for years, you will see much wooing.
I have seen men going up to women in the coffee shops that I'm describing and attempting to start conversations only to be shot down instantly. Most people in New York seem to always be on the defensive, but I am sure that goes for people in other cities as well.
We have been taught to always protect ourselves first — always be on the defensive and avoid letting strangers in. But if we never let strangers in the front door then how can we ever hope to meet the person of our dreams? How do we expect to even make friends or network? We don't allow for conversations to start, so conversations never occur. Instead you see the same lonely people sitting at the same cafes reading their books and sipping their coffee, alone.
Both wanting to be seen and wanting to remain isolated — hiding in plain sight. Not everyone is out there trying to get you or trying to take advantage of you. There are people roaming the city that are just as lonely as you are and are looking for nothing more than a friend. Or perhaps they are looking for the love of their lives—if you don't talk to them, then you will never know. Whether it's fear or stubbornness does not make a difference; the result is the same: you will end up alone.
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