How do you capture being in your twenties in NYC?
Having moved to the city when I was twenty, I can confidently say that being young in this city can be exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time. Practically growing up in this city has its excitement and challenges.
At a recent gallery exhibit, I was reminded of what being young in this city means. Ryan McGinley, an American photographer, has a new exhibit of his photos from a time when he was in his twenties. Apart from having the ability to take these beautiful photos, he really captures the lack of inhibition, the excitement, the happiness, the wonder, all of those tiny details, that come along with being young in this city.
I became acquainted with McGinley’s work while visiting the Guggenheim a few years ago. I came upon a photo of Jim Sturgess, an English actor, which I thought was very beautiful and provided more of an insight into the person that was being photographed. It felt like you knew Jim. Since then, I have been swooning over McGinley’s work, not only because it is beautiful, but because it always makes me feel as if the photo itself were speaking to me either by reminding me of different facets in my life or by evoking feelings that are central to the human condition (ie. excitement, peace, love etc etc).
In his new exhibit, this is exactly what happened again. It made me question what being young and your twenties in this city means. This may be because I will turning thirty next week and I might be having an existential crisis, but it brought so many memories of what the past decade living in this city has been and felt like. Even though, I did leave the city for a year, I came back because I fell in love with it. I didn’t enjoy it as much when I was in my early twenties because I was bogged down by other commitments and trying to figure who I was out without enjoying where I was, but as I entered my mid twenties, I really began to appreciate this city. Apart from its uniqueness- the food, places, smells etc-I also met some of the most unique people here. McGingley’s exhibition reminded of all this.
The people who I have happened to meet, become friends with, lose touch with, has been quite incredible. I’ve met so many young people from all walks of life. Young people following their dreams. Young people with huge dreams. Young people who despite being attractive, confident, go getters, were still trying to figure out who they were and where they fit in. Perhaps, the greatest lesson of my twenties, has been that the journey is very similar for a lot of us. That trying to figure out who we are, where we fit in, how to do this, and what makes us happy, is very similar for a lot of the young people whom I have met in this city.
McGinley’s exhibition also brought up memories of the past decade here. It particularly reminded me of the questionable life decisions made after drinking a little too much on a night out, the sunsets and sunrises that I have seen with life long friends I would have not met anywhere else during those questionable life decision making moments, of love, of the kisses that happened all over this city, of the laughs shared with people who are no longer in my life, of the time that I dated a proper New Yorker who showed me a different way of viewing this city, and of the multiple times when this city has saved me from the workload, the stress and the self imposed standard that comes along with doing what I do for a living.
My hat goes off to this city again and to its artists for capturing youth, beauty, experiences, and how they all happen in the backdrop that is this city.
What do you love about being young in this city?