Why Does Time Have Value

I recently noticed that I’m able to guess how long a person has lived in NYC. It’s not that I know the exact number of years, but I can recognize if someone has been living here for just a couple of months, for a few years, or for over ten years. I can tell by the way this person approaches other people and situations in general. In short: the longer a person lives here, the more straight to the point she or he is (or the less patience she or he has).

Those who just came to NYC have a different sort of energy. Their energy is somehow more gentle; they move slower, they smile more and they think they have time for everything. They even walk differently, they don’t rush. As I said, they still “have time” – or so they think. They are also more apologetic.

The longer you live here, the more your time speeds up. You learn that you actually don’t have time at all. I always laugh at people’s jealousy that we live in NY. I want to tell them: Guys, your lifestyle is way better than ours! Believe me, you have no idea what you have. The life here is faster, the quality of life is not great (unless you’re very rich) and you generally get less for what you pay for. You work at least five days a week (if you’re lucky enough to have two days off), then you do what you love after work because your job rarely reflects your passion (well, I’m talking about myself and other creative people temporarily working outside of creative sector). You commute for at least 40 minutes (if you’re lucky; usually, it’s way longer), sometimes you can’t even walk down the street, because there’s just too many people. Don’t even get me started on the subject of the subway – maybe it’s me, but I just feel it’s getting more and more crowded. Try to go somewhere during rush hours (8-10AM and 5-7pm… good luck!) – sardines are more comfortable in their cans than we are. We pay a lot for our apartments and don’t get much out of it (you should see some of these apartments – you wouldn’t even believe what $2000-plus can look like).

I’m pointing these things out to give you some general idea of what NYC life is like. Because there is so much noise and nonsense in this city, we do learn to value our time a lot. The longer you live here, the less you want to have these meaningless chats or small talks, the less you want to experiment (hey, living here is one big experiment to begin with!). People work on their laptops, read books, magazines, respond to their work e-mails, watch movies on the subway – to save some time.

The more years you have been here, the more eager you are to get to the point faster. And I’m talking about getting there literally and in all aspects in your life. You ask directly for things – and that’s the greatest thing I’ve learned in NY. You don’t assume, you don’t project – you just ask. I grew up in a country where you just simply are afraid to ask. Here, I can just spill it out. And that’s my new skill I’m proud of. When you meet a guy and you want to go out with him right away, you won’t wait a few weeks before he graciously makes up his mind (I used to do it, I’m just done with that by now). If he doesn’t ask me out after a few conversations, I just assume he’s not interested and I move on (I’ve just learned that skill). The more you live here, the more direct you are. And the more unapologetic you become. You don’t worry that much if you offend someone; you don’t wonder what would others think – you simply have no time to think about it. It’s said that there is this specific casual fashion style in NY and there is a reason for that: we just want to feel comfortable because we have a long way to go – in every possible aspect. And – what many people outside NY still don’t get – you can’t remain in touch with everyone close to you – it’s just physically impossible! If you add everything you do during the day (and I forgot to add workout and cooking and meeting your friends…!), you might get two hours to yourself a day. I usually get 1.5h and I use it for shower and meditation. I gave up all TV/Netflix shows this year; I prefer to put my time into something else. And I learned a new sentence from my friend Gosia that I use now: “Thank you for your time”. I value my time more than ever and will think three times how do I really want to spend it. And with whom. Time is way more valuable than money, so I want to spend it wisely.