What I Learned in NYC


Guess who’s back and better than ever?! ME!

Wow! It’s been a long while since I’ve posted and I’m so sorry about that. I know all of you have been DYING to hear about my not so exciting life;)

A few weeks ago, I wrapped up my time in New York City after a 3.5-month stint of learning, working, and exploring The City That Never Sleeps. Saying that I loved my experiences in New York is an understatement. In fact, I had a rushed, passionate love affair with New York that can only be described as reminiscent of the glory days of Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson’s relationship.

I had many highs during my time in The Big Apple, including working at SNL, performing and studying improv/sketch comedy at Upright Citizens Brigade, seeing over 50 performances, and eating WAY too many bagels to be considered healthy. But, as in every relationship, I had some lows, like that time I was cussed out by a homeless man in Brooklyn, or that other time I stepped in dog poop on the sidewalk (WHO LET’S THEIR DOG SHIT ON THE SIDEWALK AND DOESN’T PICK IT UP!? WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!?), and even the multitude of times I missed my friends and family back in Kansas and North Carolina. Each one of these things, good and bad, taught me something about New York and, more importantly, myself.

In order to sum up my time in NYC, I put together a list of things I’ve learned over the past 3.5 months. I hope these little pieces of wisdom help you as much as they helped me. So, without further ado, I present you with the 4 life-or-death pieces of wisdom you didn’t ask for and that I, Samuel Robert Elliott, am completely unqualified to give. NOW, ENJOY!

  1. Life is a big shitstorm of improvisation.

In New York, I found a new passion for improv. Improv is fast, fun, and hella difficult, which is everything I like in an activity. During the 3.5 months that I was in NYC, I watched and learned how to improvise with some of the best at the Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, and Ian Roberts-started improv theatre and training center, Upright Citizens Brigade. Performing, watching, and learning improv helped me to think on my feet, read people, and put myself out there. Through taking classes at UCB, I learned so much about what it means to be an improviser, but more importantly, I learned that everything in life is a shitstorm of improvisation. Whether it be giving a presentation at work or even just choosing what you want for dinner, improvisation is key to success. My New York experience taught me that I can navigate my way through any situation by using a little improv, and you can too. Push yourself out of your comfort zone by taking an improv class or doing something you typically wouldn’t. You’ll grow as a person and won’t regret it.

2. Learn from your mistakes.

This is one MASSIVE cliche, but does it look like I care? You can’t visibly see me so don’t answer that, but for clarification, the answer is no, I don’t care. Cliche’s are a part of life and so is making mistakes. Everyone inevitably makes mistakes, unless you’re Jesus but that’s an entirely different story. However, it’s not the mistakes you make that defines you, but rather how you respond to them. Being an intern at Saturday Night Live was an experience I will never forget. I met celebrities, learned about television production, and make some life-long friends, but most importantly it forced me to confront my flaws. To say I made a few mistakes at SNL is an understatement. In fact, I made A TON of them. With each mistake, I grew a little stronger and more confident. However, more important than that, I never made the same mistake twice. Now listen up folks, I have some advice. NEVER MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE! If you do, you suck. Just kidding, you don’t suck, but it’s not a good look. Be a sponge in life and listen to constructive criticism with thick skin, it’ll only make you a better person.

3. Coats are a necessity.

Time for story time! ‘Twas a night in October, and all through New York, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Wait, who am I kidding? This is New York, not my house on Christmas Eve. There were DEFINITELY creatures stirring, and most of them were DEFINITELY mice. Let’s start over.

‘Twas a night in October, and all through New York, many creatures were stirring, and almost all of them were mice. On this specific autumn night, my coat, I left at a friend’s apartment and for the next two months, it stayed. For that long stint, I walked around, no coat nor warmth to keep my hide snug. Instead, the cold took hold of my soul and wreaked havoc for two whole months, until finally, I took my coat back and gave it a big hug.

Okay, long story short, I’m a dumbass and left my coat at my friend’s house so I had to walk around New York in two sweatshirts in the dead of winter. It was miserable. Now, you may be asking, “Sam, why didn’t you just go get your coat?” Well, because I’m lazy.

So the takeaway of this one is don’t leave your coat at your friend’s place, and don’t be too lazy to go get it. Because if you do, you will be cold and miserable. Coats are a necessity and each and every person needs one to be warm in the winter. Thanks for listening to my TED Talk.

4. Some people want you to fail.

This is a sad reality, but it’s the truth. As someone who cares a lot about what others think of me, this was a hard thing to come to terms with. It wasn’t until my time in New York, that I finally decided to stop worrying about what others think of me. For the longest time, I let people get in the way of my happiness and success. I took it to heart when people left me out or talked bad about me. But, in reality, those people don’t matter. What I found in New York is that the only people that matter are those that love you. People that put you down, leave you out and want you to fail don’t have a place in my life, and they shouldn’t have one in yours either. Be strong and know that there will always be people that don’t want you to succeed. Prove them wrong, not for them, but for yourself because, in the end, there are billions of people in this world (millions of them are in New York), and one person’s opinion doesn’t matter. Don’t let the haterzzz get in your way and always be your authentic self. You’ll love yourself, and the world around you, much more if you never compromise on who you are.

Well, that’s it, folks. Thanks for giving me a voice and taking the time to listen to it. I’ll be back at Duke in a few weeks and can’t wait to learn even more about myself and the world around me. Thanks for the mems and I’ll see you soon, New York, but for now… Thank you, next.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. rosebwong says:

    amazing sam !!! gosh new york was so lucky to have you for 3.5 months but duke can’t WAIT to have you back !!


  2. speak766 says:

    Great post. Definitely agree with #1. Going out of my comfort zone is what ultimately changed my life for the better. Wish you the best in 2019 – speak766


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