Chicago derives its name from the French adaptation of a Native American word. It either means “big, tall, and strong” or “giant onion.”
Unlike other big cities I’ve been to, Chicago isn’t so rooted in a history that it can’t be shaped, and it’s not so modern that its identity is still inchoate. Chicago is a city of plasticity. It is what you make of it, and ever since I arrived, it has let me do so.
My stream of tweets, check-in’s, and photo uploads will never suffice as representations of what this city is to me. Though my enthusiasm for Chicago has definitely come through to a lot of my friends and family, what is happening internally is far more profound than any Instagram capture can convey. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss words altogether for the sake of landscapes or skylines (or in the case of the 21st century, food porn).
When I moved to D.C., it was incredibly uncomfortable. Exorbitantly shy and habitually hermitic, I resisted adapting for as long as I could (until I found music). This time around, it feels different, and I realized why: I am comfortable in my own skin. Instead of resisting my shyness, I realize that it’s a part of me, and that’s totally okay. I don’t need to be out every night around loud music and inebriated crowds to feel like I’m alive. I know that I’m alive.
Here, I am filled with wonder and surrounded by newness. Whether by wandering around the city or striking up a conversation with a stranger, I am connecting and connected to everything–including myself. In my work, I am lucky to have mentors who are not only passionate about their work but also stellar human beings outside of their work. I cannot go a day without learning something new. I go to bed every night reluctant fall asleep (lest I miss something) and wake up out of pure excitement to start the day.
There can only be one explanation for this: I’m in love–with my work, with this city, with life itself. What better place is there to be than right here, right now, in this moment, exactly where I am?