The Lifecycle of a Dream

It all started the months before I graduated high school. I was ready, or I thought I was ready to begin a new life in a new place with a new dream. It was all suddenly so close that I could feel it. The city air of New York, the bright lights of Broadway and all of the adventures that came along with it. I said goodbye to the life I knew and put everything on hold for commuting from New Jersey to my college on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was exhilarating. 

In that moment, I was unaware of the exhaustion that would come along with commuting alongside the large loads of coursework Marymount Manhattan College had to offer. I barely thought about it. Even though my family tried to tell me that it would be a bit much to handle. While eventually it did get to be too much, my first year at Marymount was the best year of my college career. I met some of my best friends, saw a ton of theatre productions and learned lessons that stuck with me up until this day. However, when that first year came to an end, my dream of being in New York City took a turn. 

In 2016, I had just finished living and working at Columbia University for an entire summer and it felt almost like a dream. It was the best experience I’ve ever had, so when I went back to being on an NJ Transit bus for half of my week while barely getting any sleep and continuing to live at home, it was a rude awakening. I loved and still love New York, but I could feel that it was time to move on from Marymount Manhattan College. I was in the midst of changing my major from Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology to Communication & Media Arts, which was something that was more suited to who I was and what I wanted to do. Not only was I changing my interests and courses, but I was beginning to realize that commuting may not be for me after all. Even my love for the city couldn’t overpower the way I was feeling. 

Photo by Katie Coryell - Columbia University, Summer 2016

When I started at Montclair State University, life began to shift. I was studying something completely new and I had transferred into a school that I didn’t know anything about. I felt alone and still tired from everything that had come before. It was a scary transition as so many things were changing so quickly. However, with work, perseverance and a love for the work I was doing, I began to figure out who I was. I had more internships, some of which changed my life for the better (some for the worse). Without these positions, I never would have discovered my deep love of connecting people. I wanted to make a difference, impact how people communicated and be able to do that in so many different environments. All because of the numerous paths I took during college, have been such a joy. 

During this past summer 2019 at Columbia University, I discovered that living in New York City wasn’t my ultimate dream anymore. I felt rather overwhelmed during my time in the city, a stark contrast from three years prior during my first summer there. And I began to feel… well, bad about it. I couldn’t believe I was feeling that way considering how much I love New York. It was shocking and terrifying to think that I didn’t want to live in the place I dreamed about for years. It was something that defined me, “What’s your dream?” others would ask. “To live in New York,” I would reply. I began to worry, because if I didn’t have New York what would I have? 

After I began to think about it some more, I realized that I have a hell of a lot more than that. I have myself, my friends, my family and my passion for the work that I do. I have my memories, my experiences and my dreams (even if those dreams happen to be a bit misshapen.) I still have my love for New York, but that doesn’t mean I have to be one-hundred percent committed to it. In fact, the idea of going out and exploring what the rest of the world has to offer is kind of amazing. Once I graduate, my whole life will be in front of me; the possibilities will be endless. 

Photo by Katie Coryell

The point of sharing my story  was to show that yes, your dreams will change., that’s okay. One minute you might think you’re headed down one road when the next minute you’ll be sprinting across the street instead. This isn’t a bad thing, nor is it something to necessarily be worried about. Figuring out life as we go is a universal feeling that we all go through at some point or another. The lifecycle of a dream can be many things: nostalgic, empowering, upsetting, exciting, thrilling. So when you have a day where your dreams suddenly aren’t what they used to be, don’t think of it as the end. Think of it as a beginning, a beginning where your dream is forming into a brand new one. Until your next dream awakens, it’s okay to be stuck in the middle; because sometimes, aren’t we all?