I’ve romanticized so much of the Big Apple growing up that even with its noise and grit, how it took long for me to be accustomed to its subway system, or how it has Times Square, an introvert’s worst nightmare: it’s still one of my most favorite cities in the world.
The first time I went to New York was on my birthday, two years ago. I wrote a completely different entry then, I still saw it all through rose-colored glasses and everything about my entry screamed “dream came true.” I had just gotten to the US after traveling from all over Southeast Asia and the juxtapostion of all cities I’ve been to and New York unraveling in my brain was astonishing.
New York still is a dream, despite me being there a handful of times already. However, it’s no longer a place I think of moving into someday. Perhaps only for a month or two, when I’m financially stable enough to afford to write in New York, purchase unlimited amounts of coffee, and have luxurious brunches. But… if I have to be honest, I no longer see myself staying in there for the long run.
I used to be a lot braver than today. I used to travel to towns after towns, alone, always on the constant pursuit of anything remotely close to an adventure. I feel like my mental health has truly taken its toll and lately, all I feel is tiredness. I feel even tired now, even if I wanted to write this entry. I had planned it in my head before I sat down and told myself to finish it today. But I can already tell that from the way my voice is currently ringing in my head – this entry is going in an entirely different direction than what I originally planned.
New York is a place for the dreamers, the do-ers, the risk takers. And I have to come in terms with the fact that I don’t think I belong in there. At least, not in the way that I used to think I did.
My anxiety has become louder and I’m no longer the dreamer that I used to be.
I was truly at my happiest when my mom took these pictures of me on top of the Empire State building. I thought about how metaphoric it was to seem like I was overlooking towards a world full of possiblities and changes and… life ahead. It’s so funny how a lot of things change in a short span of time.
My depression has taken over so much, that even receiving opportunities to go to New York feels like a chore. I wanted to scream at myself, didn’t you want this? Didn’t you ask for this? But another voice is louder: I just want to be left alone.
New York is home to many of the things I’m passionate about: music, culture, theatre, art. And I was beyond happy that I got to share these things the first time I visited New York with my most favorite person in the world, my mom.
It was still a memorable trip, of course. We got to visit Central Park, Brooklyn, the Met. I sat on the exact spot on the steps where Blair Waldorf sat. We watched Cats on Broadway, which was actually the first musical I’ve ever seen and what made me into musicals. We found a coffee shop with a small library while retreating from the huge crowds in Times Square. We got lost in the subway twice. I received flowers from my boyfriend and I bought my younger brother a Statue of Liberty hat, like a true New York tourist.
I think one of the things that also changed about me was that, I realized that I don’t have to be in a specific place to achieve my dreams. And that was because even with all the places that I’ve been, I was still the same at the end of the day: lost, hopeless, scared, nowhere to go to.
Eventually, the rose-colored glasses had to come off and I understand now that sometimes, a place is just a place. It doesn’t magically transform you into a doer or a thinker or a risk-taker. It doesn’t help you “find yourself”.
Most importantly: it will always be there. You can always go back or go when you’re ready, when you want to, when you need to.
And maybe, when you finally go into that place, you’ll realize that you were the dreamer, doer, risk-taker that you already were all along.