Brandon Stanton started Humans of New York in 2010, photographing New Yorkers. The project evolved and Brandon started collecting quotes and stories from people. He recently went to Turkey to talk to refugees. Most of the stories were heartbreaking as you can imagine. Made all my problems and issues seem small.
I wish I can give every single person in the world a copy of his new book,
Stories, it’s just beautiful.
Here are my favorite stories from the book:
- I’ve sort of had an arrogant demeanor my entire life, and I’m learning that I’m going tohave to change that if I want to succeed. I realized that it doesn’t matter how clever you are if nobody wants to work with you.
- I’ve been trying to get into a full time orchestra for the past 20 years. I’d guess I’ve been to over 200 auditions. It can be pretty heartbreaking. I tried out for the New York Philharmonic four times. One time I prepared three months for the Los Angeles Philharmonic audition, flew all the way across the country, and they cut me off after twelve seconds. But believe or not, I still have a certain amount of optimism about the process. And I think I’m getting better. >
- I wish I’d partied a little less. People always say ‘be true to yourself.’ But that’s misleading, because there are two selves. There’s your short term self, and there’s your long term self. And if you’re only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays. >
- If you’re opening a business just for the money, you’ll fail. There’s too much work before the money comes. Your heart needs to be in it. >
Forgetting the little things
- For the longest time, I was so focused on being deaf in my left ear, that almost forgot my other ear was perfectly fine. >
- I’m a feminist. So if a woman and I are going for the last empty seat on the subway, I’m not holding back. >
- My father is from Paraguay, and he brought his culture with him. When we were growing up, he’d always say that everything we did wasn’t decente. Sleepovers weren’t decente. Painting my nails wasn’t decente. Shaving my legs wasn’t decente. Having a boyfriend wasn’t decente. He was always reminding us how much he sacrificed for us. Now, even as an adult, I hate who I am when I’m around him. Whenever I visit him, I get weak. I don’t wear makeup. I take off my nail polish. I don’t tell him anything about my life. My voice changes, becomes softer and more obedient. Do you resent him? I wouldn’t say that. Honestly, I just think he loves me too much. >
- It took me getting into a lot of fights before I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have something called ‘hypervigilance.’ I get really nervous around people. Especially people from the Middle East.
What were some traumatic things that happened to you?
I was in a vehicle when a mortar round exploded in front of us, and we fell into the crater and got trapped. There was a burning oil rig near us, so it was like being in a microwave. And we couldn’t get out. And I also saw a lot of hanky shit. Mostly from our side. Everyone was really revved up from 9/11. We did a lot of bad things. I saw decapitations, and that was our guys doing it.
We were supposed to bring POW’s back to the base. But instead we gave them a cigarette to calm them down, and told them to get on their knees. One of our guys was 240 lbs, and he’d taken this shovel we’d been issued, and he’d sharpened one of the sides until it was like an axe, and he could take off somebody’s head with two hits.
How many times did you see that happen?
My biggest fear
- My biggest fear was that I’d end up having to be my brother’s caretaker. When I was twelve years old, my mother made me promise that I’d always take care of him. He had cerebral palsy, and ever since we were kids, I always was the one who took care of him. He could barely speak, and I was the only one who could understand him. So I did everything for him – I changed him, I fed him, I toook him to the bus. But I had my own dreams and wanted my own life. When I decided to leave, my mother started crying and kept reminding me of the promise I’d made when I was twelve. My brother was so upset that he wouldn’t even look at me. But I had my own dreams. The worst part is every time I came back to visit, he’d atrophied a little bit more.