I’ve been living in this crazy awesome city for nine-teen months now. I’m sorry for equating my life in New York like a new mother refers to the age of her toddler. But also not sorry. This life I have in New York is my baby. Sleepless nights, a lot of surprises, and incredibly hard at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. And sometimes I feel like keeping myself alive here is just as hard as keeping an infant alive, but I’ve also never tried. I digress. One thing I’ve learned from trying to become a New Yorker in that time is that New Yorkers are born all over the world. I surprisingly don’t meet a lot of people who were born in raised in Manhattan. Most New Yorkers don’t even have that famous movie New Yorker accent. (Unless you’re a cop, then you have the accent. I’m pretty sure that’s a part of the requirements.)
I was sitting in a bakery that my friend worked at writing away (but mostly praying for a distraction) and got caught up talking to another regular coming in for coffee on her break. I found myself asking the question that I always seem to ask fellow New Yorkers that I’m first meeting and that’s, “What’s your dream?” I know it’s a bit of an odd thing to ask a stranger, but to me it just seems like an obvious thing to ask. She grew up in a different country and somehow ending up here and is taking dance classes full time. She obviously has a dream.
This whole city is full of dreamers. I sometimes walk by the old cathedrals and buildings and think about the immigrants who left their various homelands, trekked across the ocean and came to see that welcoming Statue of Liberty. They endured terrible living conditions, abusive employers and many other hardships, all just to be able stay in this country, and hope to someday thrive in this city of dreams. It’s like they all knew that any adversity would be worth sticking it out just to know that here, any dream could come true.
“I want to be in the circus” she said almost like a question, with equal parts of doubt and confidence washing over her expression. I wonder what her answer would have been if I had asked, “What’s your five-year plan?” or “what are some of your short-term goals?” But I didn’t. I didn’t care what her plan was because if she was anything like me, it’s probably changed five time since moving here (the same number of times I have moved apartments since getting here…) She told me all about the gypsy life she’s been living (I feel you, girl) and how all of her dance training was aimed towards being in the Cirque Du Soleil. It takes a lot of resilience to not only go after your dream but to simply acknowledge it. I think that alone is what brings New Yorkers here and why it makes them so tough.
In the same spirit of the broke New Yorkers that came before us on ships, that same resilience is almost ingrained into us. I meet New Yorkers from the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas that came to be a dancer. Or from Mexico City to work on Wall Street. If New York has told me one thing, it’s to dream big. The sad thing is I’ve watched people measure their passion for God with the distance in which they abandoned their dreams. The belief is that it requires more faith to give up your dreams (which might be true in some cases). But as a rule, I think is rather funny because I think it takes a lot more faith to actually pursue them. Rarely in those situations did God actually ask them to give up their dreams, they always seem to come to that assumption on their own in some sort of attempt to impress God with their sacrifice. But here I’ve found it takes an enormous amount of trust in God to believe that those dreams in your heart were actually put there for a purpose that stretches far beyond just you.
By: Rachel Goddard