Feeling Like a Small Fish in the Big Apple

In Lenses’ third publication, Patrick reflects on how the big apple never ceases to change one’s perspective in life, whether you’re a tiny worm, a human being, or even a big fish out of water.

I used to feel a lot like a big fish in a small pond. I  spent my entire life in the same small Bandung neighborhood, never moving an inch from my abode. I stayed in the same school from kindergarten to high school, and have remained in my parents’ house throughout college. I do not think I’ve ever experienced even one week away from my family and the comforting scenes of our home. Having been in the same place all my life, while simultaneously wanting so much more with my perceived ambition and skills, often made me feel like a big fish in a small pond. However, visiting New York during the IISMA program really changed that.

Being about 200 miles away from Boston, I spent most of my NYC trip walking in and around Manhattan. You read that right: I was walking and on my feet almost throughout my time in the Big Apple. Being in a melting pot of diversity, surrounded by the tallest skyscrapers in the world as far as the eyes could see, and letting my pair of legs solely be my guide – it was all so moving for me. In this place, I felt very small. New York does make you feel minuscule, and there is something very melancholic, yet inspiring, about that.

It took a city as culturally rich and historically significant as New York to bring me down to my knees, humbling me to the point where I began to lose my inner sense of pride. Under New York’s chaotic lights and rumble, I finally realized how, in the grander scheme of things, I was but a tiny blip in a world that would allow every cell of my being to go with the wind at any time given moment.

Between my humbling episode, New York has also taught me a thing or two about how big and beautiful civilization can be – especially considering everything that we as humans have achieved together since the beginning of time. Everything before my eyes stood massive, proud and awe-inspiring. I was so moved by how our mere joint capability (as members of humanity) that it is somehow enough to build something as amazing as this city from the ground up. At the end of the day, New York awakened something in me. The Empire State empowered me to go all in for my dreams, for this place is the manifestation of what could be unleashed upon the world if simply driven by a person’s dream and potential.

Created by : Patrick Steven

Patrick Steven is an undergraduate student at Parahyangan Catholic University of the 2019 cohort, majoring in Management. He won the first edition of the Indonesian International Student Mobility Awards (IISMA) in 2021, sending him to Boston University in the United States for a semester on a full scholarship. During the program, he had the chance to visit New York City itself, and this is his insight.

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