Finding Daylight

APRIL 15, 2014

NYC_Yellow_Cab Photo by Emily Long

Arriving in New York City fresh out of college at 22 years old, I couldn’t wait to jump into my new life and begin making my mark on the city. It didn’t take long for me to realize that even though I was now a real adult (kind of), this was just like any other life transition – I was starting over.

We go through this countless times – just as you finally master the complicated dynamics of middle school, you’re tossed right into the larger, even more complex world of high school. The same happens from high school to college, from college to the real world, and that cycle repeats each time we get a new job, move to a new city, or embark on any kind of new adventure.

Going from being a big fish in the small pond of my beloved college to a very small fish in the ocean of New York was overwhelming. Those first few years are a bit of a blur that looked something like this:

– Work around the clock at my first post-college job
– Run around from bar to bar with my girlfriends
– Sleep a few hours in my charmingly rundown basement apartment
– Repeat

I could go for days without seeing daylight.

For those first few years, it was all about me. And that was ok; I was just getting my feet on the ground. But as the years marched on, and I moved from my first job to one with more reasonable hours, and from my first dungeon-like apartment to a nicer one above ground, I realized that I wasn’t making my mark the way I had imagined. I hadn’t quite found my place.

I had started to feel a bit anonymous – like I was just part of the big gray mass of city dwellers streaming in and out of office buildings, subways, bars and restaurants. The city itself was constantly growing and changing for the better, and I was just along for the ride rather than being part of that amazing energy.  I also realized that my entire life consisted of working and socializing, and that wasn’t enough any more.

So, when a friend mentioned that the mentoring organization he volunteered with was recruiting new mentors for the upcoming year, I jumped at the opportunity. Minds Matter takes in smart, motivated high school kids who come from low income backgrounds, and gives them the help and resources they need to get into college and ultimately be successful there. Volunteer test prep and writing instructors help the kids academically, preparing them for the SATs and improving their writing skills. As a mentor, I get to spend every Saturday afternoon with my mentee – an incredibly smart, sweet and poised 15-year-old girl – helping her navigate the world of high school, applying to college, and working to build a better life for herself.

Being a part of giving these kids a chance to go far beyond their own expectations and the confines of the situations they grew up in is so inspiring. Working with them has helped me to find my place, and finally feel like I am making my mark.


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