The other day a friend of mine asked me if I feel like a New Yorker. I have only really thought about that since I’ve moved here in terms of familiarizing myself with the subway. Once I had it down I thought I’d conquered the world. And once I started successfully ignoring homeless people and skillfully grabbing a seat after eyeing one as the train pulled up I thought I had become New Yorker all the way. But while I may have found success in tackling the subway, the longer I live here the more I realize what I have left to conquer. I’m not sure if I can fully give myself “New Yorker” status quite yet, but the more experiences I have, the more I learn about the city. And almost surprisingly, I learn more and more about myself very quickly.
When you live in a place like New York City you meet twice as many people as you would any other place. I feel like I’m constantly meeting new people; whether its at work, socially, or in my acting classes. It’s almost never ending. And what I’ve realized by meeting all levels of crazy people is that I’m growing to find a new sense of certainty about myself. I feel more strongly locked in to who I am. It’s almost like I feel like I have to in order to keep myself from getting sucked in to the crazy that I’ve noticed so many have fallen into. Not everyone is here is crazy; don’t get me wrong. But meeting so many people from many different walks of life, really starts to give me perspective.
This week was one of those weeks where I felt like I was ruled by the city. I was caught up in the glamour and the excess a little bit. But it was harmless because it’s not a lifestyle I could or would even want to keep up. I don’t go out all the time and rack up a $70 tab, so once in a while is okay. But it made me really see how easy it is to get into that groove. And never will I ever say “Put it all on my tab” again at a bar. (Well, at least not until I’m making the big bucks). I also broke my cab streak finally. It was much needed. And thankfully cabs here aren’t as pricy as they are everywhere else.
NYC has this “sucking in” effect about it. There’s something about this place that causes you to get sucked in to other worlds. And its hard to get out. It’s hard to stay focused. Oddly, I’ve felt like I’ve never noticed myself more grounded in who I am since I’ve moved here, but I’ve also found myself having a difficult time staying grounded in where I am going and where to concentrate. It’s hard to focus here when you have a million different things pulling at you at the same time. But I’m plugging along, and I’m learning.
In about a week it’ll be a year since I graduated college. That almost makes me want to throw up thinking about it. I think a lot of people in my position are really irked by that fact in terms of where they’ve come in a year. If what we have or haven’t accomplished doesn’t seem impressive to others it makes us feel like we’ve failed. But we have to measure our successes on a case by case basis. We all have our own successes and failures in exploring the post grad world, and they are all valid and all completely personal. What might seem a big success for me may seem minor to any other person. The real world isn’t about grades or teachers, it’s a completely different ball game. We are the ones who determine and define our world now. A year ago, I had no idea where I would be by May 2012. But I’m pretty satisfied with where I’ve turned up. Right now I pay my own rent, I have a job, I live in a brand new city, and I’m making small strides towards my acting career. I’m taking things one step at a time. And that to me is just exactly where I should be. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will the e-strugs empire.
Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the best seller, Eat Pray Love) gave a lecture about nurturing creativity. I could write a whole blog about my thoughts on all the things she said so poignantly, but what really stuck out to me that relates to my life right now is what she pointed out about the pain and suffering everyone always associates with having a creative career. No one really approaches an aspiring doctor or lawyer with the words “Aren’t you afraid you might fail?”-and if they do, it has a completely different meaning than when that question is posed towards an artist. There is a different kind of risk involved, and artists have the reputation of dwelling in their failures and its not a pretty picture. Since I’ve moved here, I can see what happens to people who dwell in their failures, and I can look at that and help motivate me towards finding another way to define my own success and to keep “showing up” to do my job as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it. In those times when I feel the pull of the city and might start to feel sucked in, I just have to remember the love and stubbornness that I have and focus on what I came here to do. I don’t have control over the outcome of my work, and thats the beauty of a creative career. I will find those moments where I truly transcend and celebrate them, but I will also remember not to lose sight, and keep plugging along.