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The New York Fantasy – Keisha Cake

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I was raised in Staten Island, New York; not too far from Manhattan. I was lucky to have exposure to the greatest city in the world (is that an opinion or a fact? I don’t even know anymore).

I remember when I was in high school I had many fantasies like most teenagers do. I had a fantasy of living in London. I had a fantasy of living in California. I had a fantasy of dating a variety of men when I’m in my 20s (I had one boyfriend in high school and I never dated at all).

One of those fantasies was to live in Manhattan. My parents would drive to the city with me and my sisters, and I would always see women wearing chic outfits, coffee in one hand and a portfolio or book on the other hand. I would always stare with wide eyes and think “Wow! They’re so cool!”

When it came time to choose university applications in high school I was torn. I wanted to study abroad. I remember looking at universities in France and England and dream about studying in a different city with the possibility of learning a new language. I even looked at universities in California. One particularly in San Francisco. The brochure had students standing in golden orange sunlight.

I expressed to my parents that I wanted to apply to a university outside New York. I was met with laughter.

My parents are incredibly supportive now. However, at the time, they were anything but.

I ended up at the Fashion Institute of Technology and it was a crushing experience and an eye-opening experience. I was living someone else’s life, however, at the end of it, I discovered a new Self.

I first majored in Photography because I dreamed of having a creative outlet, even though my parents did not support it. Photography was not working for me. So I lingered in Liberal Arts for a year while I fought hard for acceptance in Advertising and Marketing. I knew my parents, specifically my father, wanted me to study in a major that would bring me money once I graduated.

I hated Advertising and Marketing. It was wonderfully educating (and a great major, I have to admit) but it still wasn’t what I wanted. The dreams of being that sophisticated New York Woman began to change and shape over time and I had another fantasy, one that I had since childhood. But we will get to that later…

During my time in Advertising and Marketing for both my Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degree, I had anxiety and panic attacks. I wanted freedom. I yearned for freedom to be myself and this program somehow was taking that away from me. I would walk into class with a racing heartbeat and I would leave with relief.

It wasn’t until my last semester at F.I.T. I had sat with my friend Elly and expressed to her a yearning I had felt in my heart for all my life.

I wanted to be an actress.

She was ecstatic! Most of all, she highly encouraged me to “DO IT!” And I did. She recommended me an acting studio a friend of hers had gone to. I signed up during my last semester of college and it opened a new portal in me. However, I will still shy and anxious.

Later on I had moved to Harlem and finally lived the dream of being a savvy Manhattan gal with coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I woke up to mornings of jogging in Central Park. I went to happy hour with girlfriends after work. I continued my acting exploration while working a 9-to-5 job.

Little did I know I was still having complications with myself. I was still living someone else’s life and someone else’s dream. The chic outfits and warm to-go coffee cups started to wear out. The jogging became mind-numbing. Happy hour started to diminish. And acting classes became repetitive.

I still wasn’t happy. My fantasy became real and I was miserable. To be completely honest, I wasn’t honest with myself. I wasn’t honest about what I truly wanted and what I truly yearned for.

I was hiding from my truth and my true self. I was terrified of it. Sometimes I ask myself who would I be if I had only been honest with myself my entire life and not at the age of 28.



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