Two years ago, I moved to New York seeking fame. I chased after vapid dreams of becoming a famous photographer while interning for one, and basically hit the lowest low of my life as I worked a job where I was actually worth nothing.
A year and a half ago, I quit social media. I was sick of the glossy models and endless scroll of selfies and nonstop bragging. I was sick of how I portrayed myself as someone with amazing achievements, while in real life I was heartbroken, broke, unemployed, and homeless. I had no real self-esteem, and the world didn’t believe in me either. I relied on carefully curated images to validate my self-worth, and recognized how fake and pathetic of a self-identity I was creating. I was not only filtering my photos, but filtering myself, turning into a weird, twisted version of who I really am.
Since then, I’m been working hard to define who I am - to myself - without having to prove anything to other people. I do what I want. I achieve what I want to achieve. So what if I didn’t reach this life goal before this other person did? It’s fine. I live my own life at my own pace. I’m learning to not be afraid to not do things. I can say no, and still live a fulfilling life. FOMO is unnecessary. I don’t want to do it all. The internet is a dark place, where people obsessed with extreme achievements. I should not and cannot sacrifice my well-being to go to that extreme to be famous. I don’t need to be special, or better than everyone else. I can just be me, in my real unfiltered life.
I’m far from perfect, but so what? I’m happy with who I am. And that self-acceptance is so much harder to achieve than Instagram likes. But it’s what truly matters. Really.
Last week I went back to the waterfront park where I used to sit and watch the sun set over the beautiful Manhattan skyline. The same orange glow reflected off the World Trade Center, and an hour later, the same dark blue sky dawned over the sparkling buildings. Two years ago this is where I came to shed a tear after a terrible day failing at my dreams. This is where I’d lay in the grass, take off my shoes, air out my blisters after a horrendous day full of menial manual labor. Today, I sit at the same spot and look back at my past self, how much I struggled, and how far I’ve come. I’m grateful for this journey, and I’m so damn proud of myself for being a courageous mofo-in’ rebel who don’t settle for less than what I deserve. I’ve finally discovered my own worth, and that’s better than anything anyone could offer me.