There's no one thing that makes you a "real" New Yorker, but I do believe that you haven't truly experienced what it's like to live in New York until you've seen or done certain things. Some people go a month, or a year, without experiencing the true wonder, or the depths of the crappiness of New York City, but if you stick around long enough, or you're out there on the street enough, eventually a certain number of situations will present themselves to you. Everyone might have a slightly different version of these situations, but I like to think there are some things that characterize a real New York experience that we can all universally, if not heartily, agree upon.
New York isn't just about Empire State Buildings and pizza slices. It's not about celebrity spotting or the rats in your trash (there are rats in lots of places — just ask our Lord and Savior, Pizza Rat). New York is about being kicked when you're down, the romance of anonymous solidarity and loving the one place that seems intent on killing you, either physically or emotionally. It's a horrendous roller coaster of love and hate, which will eventually turn you into a bitter old lifer or make you move somewhere suburban where you will run in circles in your big backyard that you pay less rent for, and thank New York for making you so grateful for such small pleasures. Here are some experiences that will add to your "real" New Yorkerness:
1. Crying In The Street
I'm not talking about a single tear rolling down your cheek. I'm talking about full on, shameless sobbing in public. Because it's impossible to find a private place when emotion catches you in New York City.
2. Avoiding Empty Subway Cars
The best thing is watching tourists excitedly jump on empty subway cars, and sniggering to yourself in the next one. THAT CAR IS EMPTY FOR A REASON. And it has to do with the worst hell death smell that will ever reach your nostrils.
3. Actively Praying For A "Show Time" Guy To Break His Face
You're probably a really nice person, who doesn't wish harm on anyone. Unless it's a "Show Time" performer. Then you want them to break something. Hard.
4. Seen Someone Wee/Poo/Masturbate In Public
One man's commute is another man's bathroom when you're in New York City.
5. Bumped Into The Only Person In The City You Didn't Want To See
You literally never bump into a soul you know in New York, until you bump into your ex. Once a week. In totally random places. And that's the only person you ever bump into by chance.
6. Made A 30 Second Friend
Thirty second friends are one of those wonderful little things that happen by accident in New York City and make you feel like everything is okay with the world. It's the person who catches your eye and mirrors your eye roll when you're forced to walk through a cloud of some asshole's vape smoke. It's the person who whispers "He's not worth it", when you're crying on the subway (even though it's got nothing to do with a guy, it still feels nice). It's the bodega guy who lets you have a bottle of water for 10 cents cheaper because you don't have enough change and he can see that you're actually dying in front of him.
7. Seen More Bars Than You've Seen Iconic Sites
You've never been to The Statue of Liberty or The Natural History Museum or even set foot in more than two boroughs but you've been to at least 90 different bars in Manhattan. And you've been living in the city for three years.
8. Only Looking One Way When Crossing The Street
New Yorkers know that bikes, and sometimes even cars, come from all directions, but insist on only looking one way when crossing the street. The "logic" is, if someone hits you doing the wrong thing, then that's on them. TO HELL WITH SAFETY, BEING RIGHT IS MORE IMPORTANT.
9. Completely Losing All FOMO
You're not a real New Yorker if you're still super excited about everything, and want to join in on every social occasion. Real New Yorkers have no FOMO. Real New Yorkers crave staying in on a Saturday night, and do, without a worry about all the parties going on without them.