Fiction, exaggeration and imagination. These are the things that create many an awesome movie. As we sit in our couches, at the theater, or anyplace with Wi-Fi, movies transport us to different worlds, place us in another person’s shoes, and introduces us to new experiences and destinations. But where it gets tricky is defining the fiction from the reality, where many contemporary films take place. While the storyline may take us on a magic carpet ride outside of our known perceptions, these stories are usually set in very real places. So when it comes to separating the fact from fiction, movies also have the ability to warp our perceptions of very real places, especially if we’ve never been there. In other words, with grand journeys to new places also comes grand delusions.
Take New York City for instance. Concrete jungle where dreams are made, indeed. With all of the movies about “making it” set in New York City and the thriving, infectious bustle of the grind, viewers unfamiliar with the famous city are swept up by the hype. And who can blame them? Well, I don’t. I blame Hollywood. I blame the location scouts, the directors, and whoever else put these silly delusions into our head that New York City is the lofty land for dreamers who want to make their dreams come true. According to movies, that is the case, but once the silver screen is gone, the truth is that New York City isn’t the place where dreams just come true simply because the exist (unless you come with the means to supplement your living, ie. well paying job or well paying parents.)
No, my friends, New York City is the place you come to test out your dreams to see how hell bent you are in making them come true. A dream torture chamber of sorts, each and every one will be tried and tested, usually by those who have undergone the same exact process and come through battered, irrevocably damaged, yet victorious nonetheless. Some people are made for that, and some are not. Neither dream or dreamer is better than another, per se, but if New York City is your destination of choice and your personal life goals are your dreams, then you better check yourself before you head to the big city. Do some real research and stop mapping out your future based on the highly fictionalized lives of Carrie and Charlotte, Serena and Chuck or Love & Hip Hop (yes, reality has fiction aplenty.)
Visit the city for more than a weekend, and head to the neighborhoods that you’ll actually be subject to live in. Wait for a J train at 3AM at the dirtiest subway. Walk through Times Square, Penn Station and other tourist heavy areas at rush hour during the Christmas holidays. Ask the most non-interested pedestrian on the sidewalk for directions, or just smile at them. This isn’t to say that New York City is all things dirty, mean, and irritating. But prepping yourself for the worst and projecting and aiming for the best is a much better game plan than relying on the images given to us by movies alone. So do the research and keep a very flexible mindset. If not for the sake of your future sanity, then at least for the sake of your dreams.