There’s a line from the musical Wicked that goes, “getting your dreams, it’s strange but it seems, a little, well, complicated.”
The rest of that song doesn’t really apply to me (I haven’t burned any bridges that I know of, nor do I have adoring masses or a puffy princess dress. Sadly.), but I still had that line stuck in my head the whole flight from Ohio to NYC.
Exactly 2 months ago I graduated from college in Chicago. Almost 3 weeks ago I came to New York. No job, no place to live, just me and 2 suitcases.
“Wow!” you might be saying, how exciting! How brave! She’s off to make her dreams! She’s Mary Tyler Moore! If she can make it there, she can make it anywhere!”
Yeah. Not exactly.
I mean, yes, I did come out here to fulfill a dream. I’ve wanted to live in New York since I was 5. I came here for a visit with my mom and fell in love. Plus every book and TV show and movie showed this amazing city that was so amazing and so far from my suburban Ohio life. But like the song says, it’s a little more complicated.
For one thing, that idealized vision of someone making their dreams come true on their own? Pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and making things happen? Yeah, it’s bullshit. I’m able to be here because my family and friends are super supportive. My family gave me food money, bought my plane ticket, constantly call with advice and offers to help. Not to mention my distant cousins who’ve opened their home to me. Dreams don’t happen solo. In fact, they can’t.
I’ve been here three weeks, and I’m jobless and crashing at my cousins’ house. Now, to be fair, I’m babysitting in exchange for housing, and so far everyone seems happy with the exchange, since my cousin and her husband work long hours. Though I know I owe them a lot, and I’m extremely grateful. I’ve also applied to around 130 jobs, which may seem like a lot, but that’s the way the job market is these days.
It can be disheartening, sometimes. Actually, a lot of the time. Sending out e-mails, going for interviews, going to look at apartments, and hearing nothing back but the rare rejection. I can spend a whole day feeling like I’ve been productive and then have nothing to show for it. Friends keep telling me, “keep your chin up! You’ll make it! Everything will work out!” But sadly I’ve reached my limit on platitudes.
I was thinking the other day about how I get frustrated and anxious over the lack of specificity to my goals. I don’t have one specific thing that I want. Some people want to be on Broadway, or be a doctor, or be a parent, or something easily definable and envisioned. There are a lot of career paths I’d want. And somehow that feels harder, because I can’t just focus all of my energy on one thing, throw myself into a struggle. My struggle right now is just a roof over my head and a steady paycheck.
Sometimes I think it would have been a lot smarter if I had stayed back in Ohio and lived at home while saving money while I figure out what I want. Or at least I could’ve stayed in Chicago with my friends and job searched there.
But I also know that I wouldn’t be happy in Ohio. And I may not have been as motivated in New York. This life I’ve thrown myself into is hard and frustrating and disheartening and stressful and anxiety-inducing and depressing and lonely and terrifying.
But if it all works out, then it has the potential to be amazing.
And, at least for now, I think that makes it all worth it.