The real world. I love San Francisco with every cell in me, but I had to get out into the real world. The real world where it's not normal for people to make 6 or 7 figures a year. The real world where people are struggling and trying to make ends meat. This is the real world. This is the world I prefer because in these settings, people are real and vulnerable. I'm not saying money is a bad thing. It's not, and while people say money doesn't buy happiness, and I certainly agree, money does provide some form of happiness with the lack of financial stress. The thing for me, though, is I thrive on creating, and my most creative times have been the times where there's been little money in my bank account, and a lot of vulnerability on my part. I spent the last 8 months living as a nomad, traveling when I could, visiting with friends and family, and calling my suitcase my best friend and deciding last minute where to go next. A lot of people asked me how I was able to afford this all. The truth is, I don't entirely know, but I do know that I had to get creative. Creative meant that some days I was staying in funky Airbnb's, and other days I was sharing a couch with a real live bunny rabbit named Spock on a strangers 70s yellow couch that was falling apart. Some days being broke was exhausting, some days I was able to work during my travels and make a lot of money, but all in all, I had to be creative with how I was living. It was a learning process where I had to do a lot of growing up (despite feeling not grown up at all, with the whole being homeless thing / living as a nomad). But it forced me to get out of a situation where I was very comfortable, into the real world. I've met some of the most amazing people along the way. People who also have to be creative with how they live in order to survive. People who have to be vulnerable. I believe with vulnerability comes strength, and with a little bit of strength (and a little bit of faith), we have the ability to succeed. That's where I'm at. I'm living in this crazy, beautiful city. People always told me that New York is lonely, and so I moved here to be alone. People always told me that New York is exhausting, and sure enough, I spent my first few weeks here with the worst 10 day flu of my life. But people also told me that New York is filled with inspiring and creative people, with every type of person you can imagine, and that has also proven true. I've met artists, writers, financial advisors, MTV hosts, house cleaners, grocery store clerks. I've met people who are living more than comfortably, and I've met people who are trying to figure out where their next meal is coming from. It's beautiful. It's sad. It's hopeful. It's the real world.
There are over 50 million Americans that live below the poverty line. Check out this amazing photo series here, that documents the intimate lives of those trying to survive.
"Getting By" – by Al Jazeera America