Where are you from?
I am originally from Upstate NY (What we call the Real NY) Syracuse, NY.
What brought you to Chicago?
I moved to Chicago almost 4 years ago after being placed to teach here through Teach For America.
What do you find challenging about living here?
Chicago is transient, and that is a challenge. My entire adult life has been lived in Chicago, so I am sure this is a natural part of this stage of life, but it has been a difficult to accept how much my friendships have shifted. Beyond the friends that have moved out of the city, I have seen such a change in my circle of friends. This has included wonderful additions to my life (Shoutout to my new roommates Devin and Kamila ;) ), but also the sentimental part of me misses the comfort level I had with my friend group. It seems like every year, and every new lease, has brought a total change in my friendships. This makes it exhausting to invest in new people, afraid that they might not be prominent in my life within the next 12 months. It is difficult to keep up with the friends I already have when there are so many options of people, neighborhoods to live in, and activities to engage with.
Why do you love it?
I am obsessed with this city. Growing up in New York, my family would take occasional day trips to NYC, and I was always fascinated by city life. I knew that someday that would be me. After a four year detour to the cornfields of Ohio for college, I made my way to Chicago and have never looked back. Chicago has the big city feel, with endless options of things to do and neighborhoods to explore, but it is not as overwhelming as larger cities. There is such an energy to city life, and it was an energy that kept me going during the most challenging days in the classroom.
I give tours of the city, this is how much I love it. Every time I tell tourists how great this city is, I feel like I am reminding myself and falling more in love with it all along the way.
After any trip out of the city, I make it a priority to see the skyscrapers downtown and people watch at the bean. For a person that judges cities based on public transit systems and skylines, I think I picked a good one to call home.
Why do you stay?
I could not imagine living anywhere else. I am reminded of all the reasons I love this city constantly, and when I leave it I am genuinely homesick. When friends come to visit, I am the one dragging them to the bean. While I often wish I could move Chicago to the east coast (closer to the ocean and my family), I had considered being open to a new home when I was transitioning between jobs, but the idea of leaving and starting over seemed like enough of a challenge. Chicago might be transient, but I guess it is a bit of give and take.
How has community affected your time here?
My community got me through the hard times, and made this city feel like home. The first 6 months here was lonely. I had just come from living with my best friends in college, to the reality of living in a big city, knowing almost no one, and being thrown into a job where I did not feel equipped. I was amazed at how welcomed I felt by the people I met through church, and the friends I made through TFA as we all were going through this experience together. That community has shifted over the past 4 years, as we welcome others in (as I was welcomed) and as we say our goodbyes to those that moved.
Can you speak into the creativity found in the Chicago community? How does it inspire you?
My brother is an artist, and always tells me how inspired he is when he comes to Chicago. I found that in this city, people are more willing to be an individual, and not try to fit into a mold, which also serves as an inspiration.
When do you feel most empowered and comfortable in your own skin?
I feel the most comfortable and empowered when I am surrounded by my closest friends, and am planning our next adventure. I am the planner in the group, and when I get to bring people together and coordinate the little details, I feel very energized and empowered.
Has living in the city affected your style and the way you approach what you purchase / invest in. If so, how?
Living in Chicago means I have less money to invest… because city living is not cheap. But it has taught me to be resourceful, and as part of that I have seen my style shift to more simplistic.
How has Chicago affected your worldview, if at all?
Living in Chicago has affected my worldview through allowing me to see more of the diversity found in my backyard. It has allowed me to see the beauty in the world, the need, and the importance of being an advocate and can ally.
Is there any scripture that's been on your heart / resonated with you lately?
Philippians 4:6- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
I have discovered that I can be an anxious person, and overthink everything in my pursuit of perfection. I have been reminded recently of the purpose and power of prayer, and that God is in control and not me. There is such peace that comes with this.
If you're in a season of distance from God, what are your questions / struggles?
I have felt fairly close to God during this season in life, but find the biggest struggle to be prioritizing time with Him. More often than not, there are not enough hours in the day and often this is the aspect that gets put on the back burner.
On the contrary, if you're experiencing closeness with God, how might you encourage our brothers and sisters who are wrestling with believing God is real and for us?
I have a lot of friends that are wrestling with this now, and I have seen Chicago and their experiences here change their worldview. Honestly, right now I am trying to figure out how to encourage those that are wrestling, but I feel like I need to be more educated myself so that I can speak truth in love.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your time in Chicago?
I know you were wondering about my rings! The one on my right hand was my maternal grandma, and the one on the left was my paternal grandma’s. Both have passed away, but I love having a small piece to remind me of them and feel connected to family!