Living in Chicago has conditioned me to never expect normalcy or to get comfortable. December 2013 was absolutely horrific but December 2015 is almost beautiful...but how long can we expect this? The weather of Chicago has taught me to never back down on my stubbornness. Every Halloween, I find that I’m determined to wear my costume without a coat, even if that meant being very cold.
It has also helped me learn to plan ahead and to be hopeful. I can only plan for today through Friday, but I’m hoping that this winter will be kind and not drop past forty degrees.
The extremes of Chicago’s weather have also taught me to appreciate other parts of the world. I find myself appreciating the tropical islands in the bitter months of January and February more than I would normally, but the appreciation is still there. This becomes handy when it comes to planning my week out; tackle the present now and hope that more isn’t piled on later, but if it is, you’re ready for it.
Chicago has a very interesting history. We literally started from the bottom and now we’re here (Drake reference, I know. I couldn’t help it). But seriously, Chicago started off as a place that Native Americans referred to as ‘Stinky Onions’ because of the surplus of leeks that grew throughout the region. Then the people who came to Chicago convinced (with corrupt tactic, I know) others to move here and we flourished. Even when a majority of our city burned down in 1871, Chicagoans banded together and rebuilt our city within almost no time.
Our city does have a lot of skeletons in its closet, but what I learned from Chicago’s history is that no matter what happens, we still are Chicagoans and we will rise to our best ability. Or in laymen’s terms, “fall down seven times, stand up eight.” This comes in handy when things in life just don’t seem to go right, I’m able to remember that at the end of the day, I’m a Chicagoan, and I can get through this.
Chicago has always had an interesting cultural scene. Did you know that our city is known for music such as blues, jazz, soul, gospel, indie rock, certain genres of hip hop, and house music? We’re also known for our improv comedy, art, architecture, literature and other performing arts? There really isn’t anywhere that you can go in Chicago without seeing one of these things. There is the architecture throughout the Loop, the beautiful murals throughout the neighborhoods, statues, monuments, and even Chicagoan artwork in your favorite restaurants.
Another main attraction in Chicago is our food. It really isn’t a secret that we don’t mess around when it comes to how our pizza and hotdogs are better than anywhere else in the world.
Really, it’s true. As someone who has been to a few different countries and states, I can honestly say that Chicago has the best pizza; we know the cheese to sauce to crust ratio better than any other state. If you get ‘Chicago Style Pizza’ anywhere else besides in Chicago, you’re really only hurting yourself.
One other major important part of Chicago’s culture is Lake Michigan. We have beautiful and clean beaches and water that is safe to swim in. Lake Michigan provides us the best water in the whole world.
We have pretty much any event you can think of. You want comedy? We have Second City Theater. You want sports? Pick one; we have two baseball teams, two basketball teams, hockey, soccer, football, and each brings the heat of competition. We’re the home of some of the best musicians, athletes, artists, and much more. The list of things to do in Chicago is almost endless and it becomes even more endless once you’re of legal age.
The culture of Chicago has taught me to never accept anything less than the best, to appreciate all forms of art, it’s okay to be competitive, and to learn to go with the flow. This really helps me when I’m having a bad case of writer’s block; I can walk around the city to find inspiration once again and hope that one day, my work will be in one of Chicago’s libraries.
Unlike some other cities, the layout of our city makes sense. Thank you to Daniel Burnham and his thought out plan, people can navigate fairly easily throughout our city. Yes, we do have some confusing boulevards and one ways, but life can’t be perfectly easy, now can it?
Our city is also cleaner than a lot of other cities in the United States. For starters, we have alleys, which from a trip to New York, I learned to love and appreciate at almost a weird level.
Another great thing about our city is that it’s easy to remember NSEW. For example, as long as you know where the Lake is to where you are, you know where North, South, and West are.
The layout of our city has reminded me time and time again, that it’s okay to get lost every now and then, but once you find your way, you’ll be fine.
Chicagoans are definitely a bird of a different feather. Depending on what part of Chicago you grew up in can determine how your personality or view on life molds and develops. The homeless population here is also something to take note of. There are the men and women of the streets that we do not know, but then there are the ones that we do. My favorite is Franky, the older African American man in the wheelchair, with pure white hair. Despite his situation, he always manages to say hello to everyone with a smile, and wheels away, singing along with his radio.
Chicago is one of the most diverse cities in the world; different neighborhoods have different ethnic groups. The different neighborhoods throughout Chicago has also opened my eyes to the segregation problem that is still very existent within our city. This has taught me to become aware of what my city is going through, struggling with, and what I can do to help change it.
Author's Note: Everyone will have their own opinions of how Chicago has shaped them, but at the end of the day, ask yourself: Would you be the same person you are today if you never lived in Chicago?