Are you relatively new to this fine metropolis? Don't be shy about it, everyone was new to New York at one time... except, of course, those battle-hardened residents who've lived here their whole lives and Know It All. One of these lifers works among us at Gothamist—publisher Jake Dobkin grew up in Park Slope and currently resides in Brooklyn Heights. He is now fielding questions—ask him anything by sending an email here, but be advised that Dobkin is "not sure you guys will be able to handle my realness." We can keep you anonymous if you prefer; just let us know what neighborhood you live in.

This week's question comes from a transplant from Maine:

Dear Native New Yorker,

I moved to the city from rural Maine three years ago. While I have found professional success and fallen in love here, I know that I'm not a New Yorker at heart. Frank Sinatra famously crooned, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere." Well, how long do I have to "make it" before I can scurry my country-mouse ass back to the woods without people thinking I couldn't hack the big city? I don't want to go back to the sticks with my tail between my legs, so how long should I tough it out?

A Little Bit Country

A Native New Yorker replies:

Dear Country Mouse Ass,

You should definitely go back to Maine, but first, read Joan Didion's Goodbye to All That, the definitive essay about getting the hell out of New York. In it, she observes that for a non-Native New Yorker, "it is distinctly possible to stay too long at the Fair." What she meant was that for many people, staying in New York is just a way to postpone making a true commitment to their destiny: "It never occurred to me that I was living a real life there. In my imagination I was always there for just another few months, just until Christmas or Easter or the first warm day in May."

Natives don't have this problem. For us, there is no question of escape: by definition, a real New Yorker never considers leaving with any frequency. Many temporary New Yorkers I've discussed this with see that as kind of sad—when I tell them I've never left New York for more than 10 weeks, they give me that look you give to mice when you find them caught in a glue trap.

But it's actually very freeing: most people on Earth don't have the choice of moving wherever they want. They have to stay close to their village or tribe to avoid starving or getting killed. And once you realize that you have no hope of living anywhere else, you experience your present circumstances in much fuller, vibrant terms. Instead of worrying about how the $3,000 you spend for a one-bedroom could get you a bungalow off Abbott Kinney or a mansion in Detroit, you can worry about other things, like how many years you can reasonably breathe New York air before it kills you.

One interpretation of "equanimity" is the freedom from wishing life to be anything other than what it is. The operative word there is freedom. You may find yourself facing the same dissatisfaction anywhere you go on earth, or you may realize it's impossible for you to be at peace in New York City. There's only one way to know for sure. ("Find yourself a city to live in.")

So as I said, leave, and quickly! In the 21st century there are very few jobs that cannot be done in or from the small towns and cities of Maine, or any other state (knish salesman? cronut sous-chef?) So don't let short-sighted concerns about your career stop you. And don't give a second thought to your New York friendships or relations—they will always seem superficial compared to the ones forged in the boreal forests and on the frozen rivers of the North.

People do best around those to whom they are related, and amongst which they were raised. It's like how I'm from Park Slope, and no matter how hard I try, I still feel uncomfortable around people from other neighborhoods, like Carroll Gardens, or Cobble Hill.

To conclude with a few words of hope and warning: your short sojourn in New York has already equipped you with the necessary reflexes and cognitive tools to outwit and outperform your former-neighbors in New England. Like Superman under Earth's yellow sun, to them you will seem to have great powers. As Jor-El said, "your leadership can stir others to their own capacity for moral betterment". So teach them what you can, but never, ever, lord your experiences in New York over them— in Maine, the words "well in New York..." usually precede a serious ass-whupping.

Ask A Native New Yorker anything by emailing our Tips address here.