by Erika Lenzi (Originally published 04/05/2011)
The idea of moving to New York City to pursue a dream seems incredibly exciting. And it is. I moved here to first pursue a marriage relationship with my then-fiancé, who had built for himself both a successful finance career and deep church community. I struggled with leaving my own job and amazing community in Knoxville, but decided to take the risk and give all that up, knowing if I didn’t ever take action to chase my magazine dream in NYC, I would always wonder what might have been.
But the reality of living here can also be really disheartening. I’ve been living right across the river from this city of dreams (and magazines) since last July, and it seems I am no closer to landing a magazine job now than I was 9 months ago. The reality is, this industry is hard to break into. Connections and previous impressive, big name internships are absolutely everything in the magazine world. I have 3 months intern experience at Philly Mag from over 3 years ago. I’m willing to bet that’s not quite enough here.
To be fair, I’ve spent most of the last year of my life planning a wedding, so my attentions were always divided. When I was planning, I felt guilty about not job hunting, and guilty about planning when I was hunting. So with the wedding over and having settled two months in to married life, I was finally diligent on the job hunt in March. I had a friend in HR polish my resume, and I sent out about 30 applications. I applied mainly for Editorial Assistant (entry-level publishing) jobs, but some admin ones too, which feels somewhat like an act of desperation. Of course I have managed to receive multiple calls back from recruiters for paper-pushing admin jobs, but nothing remotely creative. Every time I’ve gotten a call about those jobs, the struggle has gotten harder. I know pure admin tasks are a death sentence for my creative hopes, but the money is good, and very tempting.
I was recently about to take some skills tests before going into an interview for a well-paying admin position at an accounting-related company, tempted by the openly advertised potential salary. Thankfully, I read a phenomenal blog post written by my friend Paul which reignited the fire in my soul to pursue a career which fits my calling, not just pays the bills. I contacted the recruiter and thanked her for the opportunity, but told her that I was going to have to pass on this one. I am not the personality type that can work a “dead-end” mindless job and pursue creative endeavors on the side. Doing menial tasks I don’t see purpose in leaves me drained and frustrated.
I’m hoping April might hold some call backs from the editorial world. But what if it doesn’t? I have been wrestling with the idea that God doesn’t promise us that He will make our dreams come true. I do believe that He will give us the desires of our hearts in accordance with His will (see Psalm 37:4). I believe He delights in artistic expression and creation, because in that act, I am reflecting Him. God and I have recently been having conversations about this, and I could swear I hear Him telling me that in this season, I should focus on writing. Which is clearly the purpose of this blog. But it’s hard sometimes not to feel like a failure when the thing you are most passionate about and believe you are most gifted with isn’t bringing home a paycheck.
Sometimes it seems like the city is taunting me, being so physically close but still untouchable. So I’m living in this place of both frustration and hope. I realize I’ve only been back to pouring my energy into the job hunt for about a month or so. I need to be patient. But I have been wondering… if this dream is never fulfilled, can I be ok with that? Can I accept that God’s time line and plans for me, whatever they are, really are better than my own? What unfulfilled dreams are you struggling with? How will you feel and what will you do if you never see them come to pass?