Someone once told me New York is a place people come to chase their dreams. It’s not the place you go because you want to start a family or to settle down. I remember being 17 years old driving to New York City in my rickety Toyota Matrix filled to the brim with clothes, pillows, and excitement. I was going to work my way up to be a writer at Vogue and I already had an internship with one of the most prominent PR agencies in the industry and nothing was going to get in my way.
I look back and wonder whether I was naive or fearless. Maybe there’s a fine line. Whenever I wanted something, I went after it, and I got it. No questions asked, no insecurity around pursuit. I didn’t understand the concept of rejection in a way that it influenced my desire to go after what I wanted. Yes meant yes and no meant sending one more email that always landed me where I wanted to go.
A few months ago I found myself on 27th street on a fall night and stopped across from the entrance of the Fashion Institute of Technology. I had forgotten the sheer excitement, eagerness, and anticipation that had been replaced over the last 11 years with ripples of fear, insecurity, and doubt, all the very real human feelings that come after years of trial and error.
I thought of all the times I didn’t think I was going to make it.
The times where something good came my way and then fell apart.
And especially of all the times that I got in my own way of dreams that were just about to come true.
I then realized I was standing in the very same spot my sweet literature professor whom I loved dearly, who had beautiful silver locks and wore big round spectacles, took my hand at 19 years old as I walked away from FIT afraid of what was going to happen next, worried I wasn’t going to make it in the big city. She smiled and told me, “My dear, this too shall pass. Fears are temporary. Your dreams live on forever.”
I wiped away the tears as I looked down at the tattoo on my arm that read, “This too shall pass”, which I got a few hours after that conversation on 27th street in 2009.
Living in New York for the last 11 years has taken me down more paths than many navigate in one lifetime. While it’s been inspiring, eye-opening, and fascinating to have done, learned, and experienced everything I have, it’s also been confusing.
Should I go this way or that way? Should I do this or that? Should I pick one thing or do them all?
And I’m surrounded by some of the most talented, grab-life-by-the-balls, inspirational, creative, successful humans on the planet. I know I know better but I often found myself, find myself, comparing my life to theirs, wondering if I’ll ever figure it out and utilize all my gifts in the perfect pattern that grants me everything I want and more.
The older I get and the more I learn the subtleties of life and what brings prosperity, I realize that comparison is the very thing that takes us away from ourselves. We think it’s inspiration, it’s harmless to look at how others live their lives, but it literally sucks the life out of our hearts and the energy out of our lives.
There are multi billion dollar industries built off the whole idea of “finding ourselves”...to figure out who we are and what we want. The irony, the greatest irony, is that it’s right inside of us, waiting for us to stop trying to be like everyone else and start listening to the tiny pulls of the hearts strings. We follow one pull, and then another, and then another, and then another, and suddenly we feel the moment of passion building up inside of us.
I think the greatest challenge is not actually finding ourselves but learning how to listen when our Selves try to show us which street takes us right to our dreams.