Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why big city people have a hard time starting out

When you grow up in the New York City area, most every other city in this country seems like a small town.

My biggest problem starting out in a medium market was dealing with the energy, or lack thereof, of the city. When you go from a city that never sleeps to a place that rolls up the sidewalks at nine o'clock, it's a big adjustment.

While big city people have an advantage in that they've grown up watching big market reporters, the adjustment to a slower pace can be maddening. No restaurants open after ten, no place to get a decent pastrami sandwich, a newspaper that's more folksy than newsy. (Thank goodness for newspapers on the Internet.) There's an energy you can feel in big cities that just doesn't exist in smaller ones. And that missing element can wear on you and give you a feeling of being lost.

Getting adjusted is tough; just accepting the lifestyle you're now living compared to the one you left behind can make you depressed and even more desperate to get another job. In this business, about 90 percent of us are fishes out of water, as there are very few people fortunate enough to work in their home towns and stay there.

What you have to do in order to adjust is to find the unique things about your market that can make it a memorable experience. While in my first job in Roanoke, Virginia, I discovered a restaurant that served peanut soup. Sounds weird, I know, but it was terrific. But I've never had it anywhere else. The city offered other unique charms; a gorgeous drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, incredibly friendly people (I think I made more friends there than any other place I worked), and a courthouse cafe run by a hilarious woman who could barely speak English but kept all the customers entertained. (You often received your soup with a fork.)

Of course, I didn't appreciate these things when I was there; it was only when I looked back that I saw these unique features that made the town a little different.

You may think you're stuck in a nowhere place, but if you take the time to seek out the things that make it unique, your time there will be a lot more bearable.


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