I always get inspiration at the weirdest times. I sat around last night, at midnight, with ideas bursting out of nowhere.
“This is what I should do,” I’d say to myself, referring to my book.
I’ve been working on this book for a few years now. And now that it’s finally been written, I’m still working out the kinks.
Storytelling is important. And in my mind, it should never be sacrificed for the sake of deadlines. The same goes for anything in life; life’s biggest milestones aren’t meant to be rushed.
Maybe I’m not rushing enough, I sometimes think.
I don’t really feel a sense of urgency when it comes to a lot of things. I did for a while, and it’s also when I was most concerned with things being perfect. I wanted a blemish-free life, a blemish-free heart. But that’s not how life works. To have anything worthwhile to say, to do, you have to experience things; this includes negative experiences.
When I first went to NYC, I was a kid. Well, technically, I was a pre-teen. I was an exceptionally young-looking pre-teen. A cousin of mine, who’s a bit under a year older than me, matured a lot sooner than I did. And our experiences in NYC, that one time, were vastly different.
I was always treated like a child, far beyond the point of me even being a child. The other day, I was trying on dresses at a store, and the woman asked my mom if I was going to my prom soon. Needless to say, I’ve never really been assumed to be older than I am.
But while that’s been good, it’s also been part of the problem. My experiences were vastly sheltered, when I was younger. A lot of people felt the need to protect me from life experiences, if only to make sure that my naturally-optimistic and lively spirit wasn’t crushed by the harsh realities of life. But as I broke free of that, I went through a lot of negative things, experienced a lot of negativity, which was tough for me to handle. After all, I was always so protected before.
The second time I went to NYC, I went with my school’s model UN class. I was in university, and barely out of those teenaged years. I experienced my first bit of out-of-the-country freedom, on my own, without any family around. I was exposed to a little more of reality, though still in a bubble. I liked the city – mostly the food, and being there with my classmates – but I found it a little chaotic.
I wish there were fewer people around, I’d think. Why were people always in my space?
A few weeks ago, I went to NYC again. It was the first time I’d been since my university trip. I expected to find the city chaotic again, but this time, it felt anything but hectic. I felt completely at home. I walked around the city as if I had been there several times before. I didn’t feel unsafe; I felt like a New Yorker. I saw NYC through a different perspective, which perhaps is a reflection of how much I’ve changed since I had last been there.
The “challenge” that was NYC had now become normal. The negative aspects of the city were no longer the focus; I saw those, too, but appreciated the good. It seemed like a diverse place, with diverse experiences, and with no agenda. I was there to enjoy the city, not to take a million photos of it and post it to my social media. I wasn’t there with my university group, nor to participate in anything other than simply “living” in NYC for a few days.
There was no end-game with NYC. There was no true purpose to the trip, other than to simply go. As I was headed to the city, I still felt unsure about a lot of things. I still wasn’t sure how safe I would feel, travelling there alone (though I was meeting a group there). This was never a concern of mine before last year, but it had become one. I was certain that something would go wrong. But nothing ever went wrong.
U.S. security is, almost always, really kind to me. The U.S. security guards greeted me, joked around with me, and the same happened when I boarded the bus to the city. I talked to various people on my bus, got to know people’s stories. What surprised me, most of all, was how normal it felt to talk to strangers. I hadn’t felt like that was normal for me to do since I lived in Spain. I felt open, but grounded.
NYC attracts some of the most interesting people in the world. It really is an amazing city, for so many reasons. The people who go to NYC, or who live in NYC, aren’t stereotypes. The city itself isn’t a stereotype. Every time I’ve been there, it’s felt like a different place. My experiences have been different, which is a testament to its variety.
I’m still on this journey, which has made my every trip to NYC completely different. I’m still growing as a person. One of my favourite things about myself is that I know I’ll always be focused on growth. I was a resilient 19 year-old, who then felt like she couldn’t handle anything negative only a couple of years ago. I felt burned out. Now, resilience feels natural again. Maybe that’s why my most recent trip to NYC felt so easy?
The next time I visit the city, I won’t even know what to expect. And that’s what I like about it.