Last week I tried something completely out of my comfort zone. I decided to live on the streets of New York for a whole day.
I wanted to experience what it’s like to be homeless and try to survive. I wanted to feel what it was like to not have any hope, any purpose or any desire to live.
After reading this blog post you’ll understand why it’s better to contribute instead of just donating money. You’ll also learn how you can contribute in your own way.
Here is my story:
I woke up at 7:00AM on a Sunday morning, as usual, and prepared myself for another normal day of work at Headspace (an online meditation app). After brushing my teeth, washing up and preparing some food I ate breakfast and started working for an hour or so.
I then decided that today was going to be a special day; I would be living on the streets for the remainder of the day. So I packed up my laptop and left the apartment.
I attempted to live on the streets of NYC for a day.
Normally I spend my time working from my apartment, making videos and writing articles like this one. Sometimes I’ll go out to film in the city or do an interview with someone, but most of the time, I stay inside and take care of business.
I decided to see what it would be like to live on the streets of New York City. Here is what happened.
I left my apartment at 8:30am and had three goals:
1. Don’t spend any money
2. Don’t return home until midnight
3. Get people to give me food, water, shelter and other items I might want or need during the day (cell phone charger, jacket, etc.).
I have always been intrigued by homelessness. I believed that if I ever became homeless, I would immediately fall into despair and lose all hope. In order to test my decision-making skills and see what my true mental state would be, I decided to live on the streets of NYC for 24 hours.
I remember watching a video where a guy who was homeless said he didn’t want money because he wouldn’t know how to spend it responsibly. He told the person asking him for change that he’d rather have food.
This made me think about how most people who are homeless don’t care about money; they just need something to eat and a place to sleep.
So I decided to find out what it’s like to be homeless in New York City by living like a homeless person for one day.
Prostitution, panhandling, and petty theft were all things I had to resort to to make it through those 24 hours.
I’m going to start by saying the reasons for my experiment are not the same as a homeless person’s reasons for being homeless. Namely, I have a home to go back to. My life is not in danger by sleeping on the streets. Most importantly, I have food waiting for me at home.
But my motivation is similar. It was to understand what it’s like to live on the streets of NYC just for one day.
My first step was to pack up my belongings and put them in a safe place. Next, I donated all but $5 of my money. The only thing left in my pocket was a dollar bill and four quarters.
I walked out of my apartment with no idea where I would spend the night, or how I would eat that day.
I have had the privilege of being able to help people in need. I have given money and food to those who are less fortunate than myself, but I’ve always felt like I could do more.
My friend told me about an experiment he conducted where he spent a day pretending to be homeless and accepting money from strangers. He said that it was very eye-opening and that he learned a lot about human nature. He wanted me to try it out, but I wasn’t sure if I could handle it emotionally.
I started thinking about how difficult it must be for the homeless to beg for money every day, so I decided to do the experiment because I wanted to understand what they go through on a daily basis.
I wanted to learn more about homelessness in America and why people choose not to help those who are in need of our assistance.
I went around NYC with a cardboard sign that read “Homeless – Please Help!” asking people for money or food. It was only 10:00am and already my heart was pounding as I approached strangers asking them for anything they could spare…
I started off the day with $20 and a backpack, and that was it. I had no phone, no ID, no home, and very few clothes on my back. I also had nowhere to go and nothing to do but survive. So I started walking.
I made my way up to 42nd Street, where I found a small group of people who seemed like they were in the same boat as me: homeless. I walked over to them and asked if they needed any help or food. One man said he just wanted some food so I offered him $2 for his meal. The other men asked if I could spare some money for their dinner, but I told them that I only had $20 for the whole day and that I needed most of it for myself.
After saying goodbye to the men on 42nd Street, I headed up towards Central Park with a goal to sleep there for the night. But after walking around for an hour, I realized that Central Park was not safe at all during the evening hours. So instead of trying to sleep there overnight, which wasn’t an option anyway since it was raining and freezing cold that night, I decided to look around for a place where homeless people stayed since it would be safer than being alone in Central
One of the biggest issues in our society today is homelessness. In fact, there’s a lot of people who are homeless, but they are just extremely good at hiding it. These people are ashamed of their situation and think the world would be better off without them.
It was a few nights ago that I decided to walk around New York City and see if I could find a place to sleep for the night. I have a good job and an apartment, but I wanted to experience what some people go through every day.
I walked around for about 3 hours, trying to find a place where I could sleep for the night outside. It was quite hard as there were lots of policemen patrolling the streets and very few spots where you can hide from them.
Eventually I found a spot on the side of a building that would shield me from view. This spot was literally 2 blocks away from my apartment. It was cold, but not too bad since it was early summer. After about 10 minutes or so, I started getting sleepy and eventually fell asleep right there on the sidewalk.
I woke up suddenly after 3 hours when my back started hurting really badly. Luckily no one had bothered me while sleeping and no one saw me either as far as I know.