I’ve idealized Manhattan since I was a child. I remember staring wide-eyed at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and becoming determined that I would one day call this island home. I dreamed of creating a fashion line, interning at a magazine, and opening up a bakery. And then I grew up.
How do we walk the line between dreaming and reality? We tell kids they can do anything they set their minds to, but do we actually believe in our sentiment? Are we just filling them with false hope? Or is there purpose to the idealism we allow them to enjoy?
I really struggle with the idea of career expectation. I’m a dreamer and wanderer at heart. Is there really a place in the job force for creatives? Or is my only hope of maintaining a steady living to find a nice boy, with a nice job, willing to pay the bills so that I can be a nice stay at home mom? There’s got to be more.
That’s why I ran to the city. I realized last fall that I would have one more summer before graduation. One year of classes before a monumental shift occurs and I’m suddenly considered a real adult. A working adult. So I found the most intimidating writing intensive course I could afford, and blindly applied. Honestly, there was a part of my brain that said coming to New York City to write is the most irrational use of my time.
Do I really think I have what it takes to do what I love?
But now I’m lost in the magic of this city. There are millions of people here, chasing their own wonderful, irrational dreams. I see women forging their own path to success, without a man as an accessory. I see artists who believe so much in their product that they move from market to market, selling just enough to get by. I see street musicians making beautiful noise. I see men in the fashion industry, boldly raising the standard of the industry.
My time in the city has been full of growth. My work has been simultaneously torn apart and praised. The competition is steep, but the fellowship among writers more powerful.
I’ve learned that the biggest difference between myself and a local isn’t southern twang. It’s the extent of their determination, their willingness to pursue the impossible, even when I would tell them to quit trying. It’s the way they chase their wildest dreams, when I timidly stumble after mine.
I think that sense of childlike wonder is what people sense when they experience this place for the first time. In a little island off the East Coast, there lies a place where people will die trying to make their dreams reality. And there’s something so incredible about that spirit, the excitement that you constantly drink in when you live here. In New York, art still lives.
I know it’s not all wonderful. New York is a land of extremes-excess and poverty hold hands. But there is something beautiful about the way creativity thrives here. The way you can walk into a restaurant, talk to your server and get to know their story. In New York, stories still have breath.