Trust me when I say I get it after 120 days.
I still remember the time when I was deciding between coming over to New York City and staying back home — where everything was comfortable, easy and most importantly, safe. It was indeed a tough decision to make given the stark reality of the situation presented in front me at the point of time and so, I was harsh on myself. I stared down at my trusted notebook and within the hour, I found myself writing down the pros and cons of each decision in a clear and concise manner. Fast forward to today, I still cannot believe at times that I am actually here in the Big Apple.
I actually made it here alive.
So if you will allow me; let me take you back to that moment when I convinced myself to take the leap of faith across to New York City. I could imagine back then a tumultuous exchange between the cacophony of voices in my head — as I strived to make sense of it all. It was as if having choices in life was suddenly some form of uncharacteristic poison. I had to be thoroughly selfish and decide at that point of time, what was the best decision for myself. This was my life that I was dealing with and I was actually for once — apprehensive against taking a stand on it, which was typically uncharacteristic of me. However, upon dissecting my decision further, I realised that deep down inside of me, I knew the decision boiled down to one main attributing factor and I can no longer kid myself anymore. Everyone you speak to has a thousand and one reasons and motivations for moving to an entirely new environment, everyone has different versions of the same story that they so wish to desperately tell another person, everyone has that inner voice telling them to do what they were otherwise advised against. But I truly believe that my story can be summarised below in one sentence for the sake of mere convenience.
I wanted to be different.
And that’s the truth. I wanted to prove to myself that I was more than capable of trying out new ideas and re-inventing the typical wheel. I wanted to go back a better person — someone who was capable of balancing empathy with a tinge of intellectual curiosity (pardon me here for a lack of a more legitimate choice of words here). It suddenly dawned on me that I get asked by my friends and relatives a lot about this decision of mine. Why did you even agree to go in the first place? What made you take that damn leap of faith to plough yourself so damn deep into that city that literally never sleeps?
And to be honest, I feel as if I’m still searching for that elusive ending to the story of mine. At times, I am absolutely in complete awe at how the immense diversity here has allowed for one to be assimilated pretty quickly into the city life seamlessly. However, I find this whole process relentlessly harsh and daunting — it forces one to grow up real quick. Everyone here has an opinion of their own and they are not afraid to say it. Its as if the melting pot of cultures has unknowingly created a facade for a cruel side plot on the sidelines, whereby people simply become so used to doing things their own way that it becomes a habit. I guess that’s when you call yourself a true New Yorker.
This habit turns into unwarranted collectivism and out of a sudden, rules are simply words written on a piece of shredded paper. People start accepting things the way they are because they believe they cannot do anything about it.
We start thinking that we should accept things the way they are.
I see this myopic process playing out in 3 blurry phases. Firstly, we’re all hopeless romantics by nature. We choose to give the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. Secondly, we start to subconsciously think about ways to change the things that we are unhappy about — solving a problem(s), like how entrepreneurship is supposed to do for our society these days. There is always renewed energy within me whenever it comes to solving a problem collectively to be honest. Lastly, for all the fanciful solutions that we come up to solve all the low-lying fruits, it is indeed that rumoured chasm between expectations and reality that kills us softly inside — what happens if my so-called solution does not scale and I am left with nothing? Would I be cast as a failure in the eyes of the people around me? Or have the problems in today’s context become way too complex for a typical layman to analyse and comprehend?
Truth is, I am extremely scared of that risk-averse side of me sometimes. Its like deadweight on my shoulders that tends to hold back intuition and stifle creativity. At times, I even truly believe that I display some form of sociopathic traits — a lack of empathy, seeing people as commodities, projecting an air of sincerity when everything is actually calculated.
But point is — should’t we muster all of our courage to bet on our own ideas, take the calculated risks, and to act? Everyday living requires some form of courage if life is to be rewarding isn’t it?
So Ben, here’s a timely reminder to you.
Continue to do what you love,
And you will love what you do.