The end of the semester and the beginning of my summer in Boston prompted lots of reflection regarding my time here so far. I truly believe that Boston is where I am supposed to be right now, but this does not mean that I love every second of my life in this city. For the longest time, I struggled to verbalize my thoughts about Boston, but I have come to realize that Boston and I clash culturally.
I associate pretense, rudeness, and individualism with Boston culture. A negative energy engulfs me in many spaces. The people here, as well as the design of the city, are individualistic and aggressive, and both of these qualities are incompatible with who I am. So much value is placed in the material. The concept of community is important to me, but I have noticed that people do not value it as much here. People seem to only think of themselves despite the harm that this can cause those around them. This creates a cycle because the rest of us are prompted to protect ourselves as well since we know that no one else will. Vulnerability, kindness, empathy, love, hope, joy, and support are hard to find and this is a challenge for someone, like myself, who does their best to lead their life with these values at the forefront.
The day before I flew home to Minnesota for a couple weeks after the semester ended, I was sitting in my bed and I thought, “wow, I feel absolutely terrible about myself here.” I do not think that Boston encourages me to be the best version of myself, and I do not feel beautiful or intelligent or capable. I feel as though I do not have room to falter or be completely myself. I always have to be on my “A Game.” I recognize that much of this could be within my control and I, of course, do my best to make my life here as fulfilling as possible. I ground myself whenever I can and I think that I am improving at the skill of setting boundaries. I do not want to paint Boston as a dark pit of hopelessness because it is not. It can be fun and it can be rewarding. Happiness does exist here, but I do believe that this depends on whom you ask and when you ask them.
As an outgoing person, I find myself feeling afraid or hesitating to enter stores because I do not know how the people will be inside of them. I do not find a lot of warmth in the people here, and I admit that this unsettles me. Yes, I am from the Midwest and I understand how that plays a role into how I perceive things (and, believe me, the Midwest is far from perfect as well). I have just noticed that even in other parts of the world, and other cities in the United States (including places like NYC) to that extent, people are more welcoming than they are here in Boston. I am sure that a lot of people jive with the iciness, but I am just not one of those people.
I acknowledge that other factors such as graduate school and adulting after college could also contribute to how I am feeling here. These are my observations and opinions of Boston culture, and I am just one person. I know plenty of people who love this city and I am happy for them. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Boston has its gems and I do my best to take advantage of as many as I can. The lack of empathy in this city shocks me and the competitive, somewhat fake culture unnerves me, but I would not trade the experiences that I have had because I am where I am because of them. I will continue to be my genuine self in every situation and if this is incompatible with Boston culture, then so be it. It really is just a part of growing older and having a backbone.