January 20, 2013.
There I was, flying out of Arkansas — a place I’d grown to call home for the past two years — to pursue a dream that was still shrouded in mystery. I was flying into New York City and I was scared. Anxiety pinched me every couple minutes. I didn’t have a job or an internship yet. I was going to have to start from the lowest rank of the journalism ladder and climb my way up with every ounce of emotional strength I had left. How would I get my foot in the door? Would I be pursuing fashion or feature writing, would I be aiming for the big guns like Conde Nast and Hearst, or the smaller start ups like blogs and smaller newspapers? Would I be lonely in New York? Would I fit in? What if I couldn’t afford the rent? What if I hated my new life? What if moving to New York was all a big mistake?
Beside me, my good friend Christina was going through the similar anxiety. She was going to DC for a semester-long internship, where she would be meeting new people and embracing a whole new lifestyle for the next five months without the physical comfort of family or friends. We were both nervous for what lay ahead.
She crafted a crane from a paper napkin and planted it on the plastic table in front of me.
“Carissa, I know you’re scared, and I’m scared too. But you’re at the age where nothing is set in stone yet. You get to create these new possibilities for yourself, and you will. What you need to do is spread your wings and fly with the winds of change. You don’t know what New York is going to offer you, but just trust that it’s going to be exciting.”
I’ll always be grateful for those words. I’ll always be grateful for her, and for the people who have helped me along the way. This city is definitely teaching me things I never knew, but at the end of the day, it’s really about the support I’ve received over the years from the people who have shaped in my life in so many ways. I’m eternally grateful for life itself, and the people I’ve been blessed with. I’m thankful for the memories that sprouted in different cities. I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had to endure — both bitter and sweet. Life is never bland, after all.
I’m thankful for the laughter, smiles and the tears that time has brought into my life. I’m thankful to be a child of God. I’m thankful for His blessings. I’m thankful for my wonderful family, my pillar of strength. I’m thankful for the people who’ve built me up and helped me grow into the person I am — still flawed but a work in progress, nevertheless. I’m thankful for the generosity I’ve received over the years, for the friends who graciously loved and accepted me despite my imperfections and silly quirks, for the people who shared their time with me. The best gift you can ever give someone is your time — be it minutes, hours or even years.
So to the people in my life, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for your support, thank you for believing in me and my dreams, thank you for your patience and your encouragement. You have no idea how much that means to me. It’s gotten me through some of my toughest nights. You’re one of the main reasons I haven’t given up on this dream, you’re why I’m still pushing through on days I want to let go. The little and big things you do, such as tagging me in a random Facebook post to remind me that I’m missed, or texting me to tell me you’re praying for me, or sending a sweet postcard all the way across the globe just to let me know I matter, all these gestures may be habitual for you but they mean the world to me. You mean the world to me.
And lastly, thank you for taking the time to read this.