When Billy Joel said "I'm in a New York State of Mind," I FELT That

*For maximum effect, play “Theme from New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra while reading to really get in the right mindset*

Over winter break, I rebelled against my family’s traditional post-Christmas-vacation-to-somewhere-warm to go live out a cheesy, cliche, New York City dream. Most of my first semester was spent on Linkedin, on the phone with professionals in other cities, or at a Starbucks interviewing more folks to begin building my network. With my dream of a Broadway internship close enough to grasp, I decided it couldn’t hurt to actually spend some time in the big city. Here are some of the things I learned while galavanting around the concrete jungle.   

Photo: Maeve Reilly

  1. 1. Solitude. Is. Underrated.

    I booked the trip knowing I’d probably be alone in the city most of the time. I bought tickets to see two shows ahead of time and selecting “1 Ticket” was the most depressing thing I thought had ever happened to me. I felt lame and thought I was going to burst without having anyone to share my excitement with. Turns out, it was awesome. No one to cut my time short at the stage door, no one to give me a weird look when I inevitably cried before the curtain even went up, and no one to worry about what they thought of the show.   

    Even better, I was able to walk around freely and quickly, see what I wanted to see at whatever pace I wanted, choose where I ate, and soak in the city energy all by myself. It was infectious. 

  2. 2. New York City at Christmas time is beautiful (but we knew that).

    Just something about it peeps, I swear. If I tried to put the feeling into words I’d just blabber on unnecessarily and probably confuse everyone including myself. Think of the Elf scene where Buddy and Jovie explore NYC to Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young” and finally end up at the Rockefeller Christmas tree. Imagine a 19-year-old girl frolicking around the city to that imaginary soundtrack and you’d probably be able to see how my trip went. 

  3. 3. Yup, I still love Broadway.

    Are we surprised? No. Yes, I saw six shows. Yes, I took at least 10 photos of the same Playbill to ensure I got the right angle. Yes, I cried (or at least teared up) at all of the shows I saw. Yes, I waited at the stage doors. Yes, I’ve been listening to all of the soundtracks since the curtain went down. I’m a nerd, sue me.

  4. 4. FaceTime your parents, at least once :-)

    Okay, nevermind. I did get a bit lonely. In between my matinee and evening show, I had some time to kill, so I treated myself to a pretzel and walked to Rockefeller Center because (to me) it never gets old. I wanted to share my excitement with someone, so I called my parents for a bit to show them the tree, 30 Rock, the ice skating rink, and me ~in my element.~ They snapped this picture of my pure joy. 

  5. 5. Geek out, I’m begging.

    Oftentimes I apologize for humming melodies from Hadestown without realizing, overanalyzing Elsa’s quick dress change in “Let It Go” to anyone who happens to be in my presence, or *accidentally* reciting the historical significance of Hamilton. It doesn’t always feel right to have a traditionally geeky passion and often feel like no one listens or cares.   

    Not in New York, though. I was among teen girls bouncing up and down waiting for Reeve Carney like me (photo above), among fans who were seeing Waitress for the tenth time and couldn’t shut up about their favorite songs, among audience members who were thrilled to see the original cast of Moulin Rouge!. Find your people. 

Maeve Reilly

Enough of me telling you how much I love New York City, you get it. This trip was honestly a fantastic opportunity for self-care and growth. I'll go to great lengths just to make sure I don't get lunch alone or go to Target solo, yet one of the best things looking back on my time in the city was that I was by myself, doing things I love with no judgment or input from others. I'm looking forward to a new year (and new decade) of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and doing things for me. I highly recommend.