I’ll never forget the moment I set my foot on American ground. After a nine hour long flight and an hour long bus ride I was finally in New York. Armed with my American dream and 2 suitcases full of semi-useless stuff I did not particularly need, I was ready to face the city. Or so I thought. Little did I know the moment I stepped out of the bus I’d unexpectedly find myself in a situation mostly resembling the stampede scene from the lion king.
The fact that everyone knew where they were going and had no problem with pushing aside anything (or in my case anyone) in their way. This really did not help my case. After a while of clueless wondering, and several hopeless attempts I managed to find a bus. Unfortunately, I had no idea that the tickets for the bus are not sold on the bus. Lucky for me, the bus driver was convinced I was a model from LA and granted me a free ride, I happily went along with that storyline. This brings me to lesson one.
If you want something you’ll have to fight for it.
Meanwhile I was convinced “the stampede” was only an overwhelming phenomenon that was caused by me being new and unexperienced in the city, it never ended. I am still faced with “the stampede” daily. It is embedded in the New York lifestyle. No matter whether you are trying to achieve something in your career or get granola at Trader Joes, you will have to fight for it. In New York everyone is on it. I must say, it does make the environment very motivational.
Peace can be found even in the most hectic places.
Central Park. My first visit to central park surprised me. I was enchanted by the fact that such a huge, beautiful patch of nature can be found in the middle of the concrete jungle. The only reminder that you are in the middle of a polluted, crowded city is the vague view of the buildings from a far. This made me realize, that if such a peaceful patch of green can exist in the middle of New York, a little peace can be found even in the most hectic life situations, you just have to look for it.
Find your niche.
To my not so great surprise I was not the only one in this city with a dream, moreover, I found many people that shared the same dream as me. All of them talented, beautiful and very hard working people. The only way to stand out and not get blended with crowd is to find something that makes you different from the rest. In my case for example; I want to be an actress (just like half the other girls my age, how original), however, lately I have also been exploring playwriting and putting emphasis on my knowledge of languages.
Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate.
You know what they say: If you can’t beat them join them. But besides that, with the great diversity of New York comes a great variety of different people that can not only help you to broaden your knowledge but also help you get a step closer to your goal. Don’t be afraid to approach people, just make sure that you have something interesting to offer them in return. During my time in New York I have collaborated with various photographers, videographers, actors and directors. And even though most of it gave neither of us financial gain, we gained a lot of knowledge and experience. Moreover, through these experiences, I got to know people that actually were willing and able to work with me professionally in the future. Networking is key.
Face your fears.
Last but not least, face your fears. The best things happen outside of your comfort zone. The best personal example I have of that is; the time when a videographer that I was working with asked me to sit at the edge of a rooftop for a shot. If you have ever been in New York, you probably can understand that for a person that is not too keen on heights this can be a rather fearful experience. As I was sitting on the edge of the rooftop, fearing for my life while still having to smile for the camera, I realized that in fact I was okay. It also helped that the pictures came out pretty great. Take a chance, a little risk a day, and you’ll notice that you’ll become a more confident and experienced person. Also, New York is one of the best places to do so, with the amount of diverse, loud, expressive and sometimes even kind of crazy people you’ll encounter it is unlikely anyone will judge you, or even notice you, if you do something on the slightly weird side.
All in all, I have fallen in Love with New York the moment I got swept up by “the stampede”, the endless moving forward, the bright lights and the energy that it emanates, makes this city so hopeful. And I’d have to agree with Tome Wolfe:
“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” ―