“People go to LA to ‘find themselves’ – they come to New York to become someone new.” Lindsey Kelk, I Heart New York
Back in 2012, one of my closest friends had expressed to me that he was going to go to New York City to pursue his dream passion of acting. Like any early-20-year-old, his announcement was met with my excitement and equal skepticism. Seeing my doubts, he recited a quote that has stuck with me at my core: “People go to LA to ‘find themselves’ – they come to New York to become someone new.”
For those that know me, from my external facades to my deepest core, you know that I tend to lean towards being a believer in the long-lost era of romanticism. I’m a story-teller at heart, someone who loves to share the souls of those around me with the world because I believe that our world becomes a better place when we can experience others. Many of you have ridden out the last three years with me, from the triumphs to the losses, and I can’t express how grateful I will forever be.
When I left Los Angeles in 2013, I had no idea that my journey was just beginning. From Portland to Chicago, Detroit to Cleveland, and now Erie – I have been making my way east, hoping to find somewhere that I feel I can make myself. The lessons that I have learned along the way have been invaluable to becoming who I am today.
In Chicago, I learned that the world is full of diverse individuals, from the color of their skin to their culture they bring with them. Everyone has experienced life through a different lens, and my colleagues at Teach for America showed me that by listening first I could discover truth in different arenas I never knew possible. In Detroit, I learned that the reality of life is that there is no protection. We are all fallen people, imperfect and malleable to corruption. When the house burns down (figuratively), you have to make a choice to rise above the ashes, work hard, and rely on your community to get through. You cannot get through life on your own.
In Cleveland, I saw what long-hours and hard work can provide (for those given equal opportunity). The benefits were immense: courtside seats, bottle service, wild nights on the company dime, and of course connections that can help me get through my professional career as long as I called a spade a spade and never bullshitted others. Yet it came at the cost of hard work, sleepless nights, many Red Bulls, and the cost of my relationships with many people in my life.
Here in Erie, I’ve learned what acceptance and vulnerability looks like. For the first time in my life, I was able to piece together what I’ve learned, my experiences, my mistakes, and my passions – and let others see that. In order to blossom, you can’t flee in the face of adversity or awkwardness, but continue to fight and represent yourself. Your character will stand the test of time – always seek to become more human, and those that matter will stay with you.
I’m sure as hell hoping I become more whole, more complete, and more human
So after six cities in three years, I’m ready to take the next step. No, I’m not looking to become someone new – but I’m sure as hell hoping I become more whole, more complete, and more human. It’s beyond bittersweet, but I’ve been accepted to Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business (Top 85 in the nation). I’ll be obtaining my M.S. in Marketing Intelligence, pursuing what I’ve loved all along.
This is the first decision I’ve made that has come with major fears and apprehension. I’m afraid of New York City – from the simple aspect of living life in a city to getting lost in constant noise, it will be the most daunting environment I’ve lived in. I had apprehension because I love the people I’m around.
You guys are da real MVPs
To my students and amazing staff that I’ve had the privilege of working with, you have helped me develop more personally and professionally than I ever imagined when I walked on campus. From teaching me that no one says “fleek” anymore, to helping me understand the value in accepting myself for who I am, thank you for never giving up on me, working with me, and pushing me to grow.
To the Gray Shirt Demon Crew of E. 38th, thank you. I never thought I’d experience a fraternity-type camaraderie in my life, but from late night study sessions to you guys carrying me out of bars like a song from The Script, the memories I have are something I’ll truly cherish to the day I die (at 30 at this rate) (also, I’m sorry I punched a wall at the bar, that was rude of me…and sorry I jumped out of a moving car. And the long laundry list of other activities. You guys are da real MVPs).
To my friends (and of course my parents) around the world who I was able to consult over the last three years in times of trials and errors, successes and victories, thank you. I suppose it’s fitting to come full-circle and end up in NYC. My Gatsby story, my heartache tale, my playboy façade – none of that will cut it in a city that sees through the bullshit and forces you to make it happen for yourself.
So, New York City, please go easy on me tonight, please go easy on this heart of mine. I’m ready to become someone new better.
I'm a former Bible-school grad with a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Biblical Studies. I've lived in six cities in six states since 2009, and had a lot of adventures. I'm now searching for The Renaissance in all of us. You can learn more here.