To me, Manhattan has never been a place of mixed feelings. You love it or you don't. You stay away from it, or you let it take you head first until you're hooked. My situation matched the latter. In fact, until about two months ago, I was in a full-on relationship with NYC. I was in love with everything it offered me. If you've ever felt that way about anything, you know how hard the breakup can be....hence why my Facebook profile still reads "Lives in NY, NY". Still in the denial phase.
Like so many others, I went to New York to pursue dreams. Art. Opportunity. I worked harder than ever & it felt nice to really go for something. I put my all into being a dancer, & while I did not get everything I wanted, I learned so much about the industry, improved myself in ways i'm still figuring out, & found out what it means to really do what you love.
That being said, it was not necessarily a glamorous experience. Sometimes I found myself really wondering if this is what I was meant to do, but I was reassured and refreshed every time I went back to the dance studio.
Here's what a normal day looked like:
6:45AM: my phone alarm wakes me up. I get up, wash my face, put my hair up, and walk to Starbucks. My giant dance bag, which is filled with various dance shoes, makeup, snacks, a book, & extra dance clothes, bumps at least 3 people on the street.
8AM: I arrive at my audition location. It doesn't start until 9:30, but I'm still considered a non-union dancer, so unless I want to wait all morning, I have to get there early and put my name on the list. Commence coffee drinking, book reading, and makeup doing.
9:30AM: The first round of the audition, which is usually the only one. The casting team will keep dancers for multiple rounds, but a majority of people get cut in the beginning. (Once, a casting director sought me out & told me she thought I was great, but I was just too tall, & that she would keep my information on file. It was the highlight of my week.)
10:15AM: I leave the audition location & head to the dance studio. The only good thing about getting a "no" at an audition is being able to take class after. I take something light and fun, like Commercial Jazz or Theatre from one of my favorite choreographers.
2:00PM: I leave the dance studio feeling good and search for some much-needed food! I weigh my options, including a smoothie shop, sushi bar, and takeout pizza place. I choose pizza and vow to get the protein smoothie tomorrow. Time to head back to my apartment for a quick shower.
3:15PM: I change into my work clothes (Casual, jeans & a t-shirt) and walk 6 blocks to the subway. I put in my headphones & walk fast, probably listening to whatever song I danced to in class that day because it's stuck in my head.
4:00PM: Work. Either bartending or serving, depending on the day. Pretty draining, but my co-workers are cool & I get to meet people from around the world. I take drink orders as they peek up from their city maps only to ask me how to get to the Empire State Building.
11:00PM: I walk from work to the bank & deposit my tips from the night. I take a cab home instead of the subway because tomorrow's Saturday & I have to wake up at 5:30AM to babysit. I go home, get ready for bed, & plan out my dance classes for the following week.
12:30: Time for sleep. I live above a drag bar, so I have come to rely on the soft thumping of Katy Perry remixes to lull me to sleep from below, before I do it all again next week.
That sounds crazy to me now. & awesome. & I know a lot of people who are still doing it. Shoutout to everyone out there living the hustle every day!
As for me, I'm reverting back to the things that stole my heart in the first place: art. writing. travel. & dancing for fun.
Do what you love.