It Just Wasn’t What I Thought It Would Be

When I was young, one of my favorite movies to watch over and over was “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”. It was about a teenage girl whose mom went on vacation in Europe, and while she was still abroad, the babysitter dies. Instead of letting the mom know, the main character decides to get a job and support the siblings for the rest of the summer. The job she chooses is in the fashion industry. I was enamored. I was convinced this was my calling. The movie showed the young woman blossoming into exactly who she was supposed to be by allowing her creativity to take the wheel. ​That​ was the kind of career I wanted – something that allowed me to have fun, use my imagination, and make other people feel great. Even at 12, I knew that whatever work I chose to do, I wanted it to have a positive effect.

And so began the path of my first career choice. I began drawing like crazy – mimicking outfits I would see on TV shows and movies. I would create my own accessories and draw them in to add my own creative flair. Eventually, I started creating my own looks from scratch. I had a sketch book and more colored pencils than you can imagine. (I needed to have every color at my disposal!) My mom used to get me a cookie cake for my birthday every year. I had saved the heart shaped box one year, and it became my “lookbook”. Sooner than later, it was filled to the top with creations, and I would sift through them, daydreaming about how they would become a reality one day.

Time passed, and I remained fixated on this career idea. As soon as I was old enough, I wanted a job. So I went to the mall and filled out every application I could get my hands on. I ended up being hired at a clothing store I loved, and the moment the woman told me my employment meant a 40% discount, I think I squealed out loud. My responsibilities were normal: cash register, letting customers into fitting rooms, and straightening clothing racks. But my favorite part of the week was dressing the mannequins. Once a week we would redesign the window in the front of the store, and I demanded to be there for it. I loved pulling clothing from the racks and mashing items together that would be displayed. My face would go pink hot with embarrassment and flattery when someone would compliment an outfit I had put together. I wanted to feel this way all the time.

I was very lucky, and everyone who worked with me was so encouraging. Most of them were much older than me, but one of my assistant managers was a sophomore in college and a fashion design major! We bonded immediately, and she began to share insight and advice on the steps I would need to take if this was going to be my career. One day she came to work and told me she had cleared it with her professors that I could come to her classes with her for a day. I was beside myself with excitement. I remember feeling mature and grown up. I bragged to my friends that I was going to ​college​ for a day. I felt accomplished and ahead of the game. No one else my age was this sure of their future.

I went to college that day. I sat through classes. I took notes. I drew. It was exhilarating and challenging, and I soaked up every second of it. At 15, it was one of the best days of my life.

However, time can be a truth teller, and I realized later that while I loved fashion, it wasn’t necessarily my “calling”. After my first year in college as a Fashion Major, I finally took a moment and truly accepted it was no longer what I wanted to do with my life. Especially when the “rest of my life” was such a long way in front of me. So, I changed my mind. And it was okay. In fact, it was better than okay. It was a blessing and a reckoning. Allowing myself to change my mind about something that I had held onto fiercely taught me that it is absolutely okay to decide you don’t want to do something. Even if it has always been “the plan”. I learned so much about what I ​did​ want from a career by being dedicated to a fashion design path for so long. I wanted my creativity to flourish and be harnessed. I wanted to make people feel good about themselves. And I wanted my work to be more than a job. When I sat down with myself over the next few years, the one constant in my life was always writing. It felt more like writing had chosen me rather than how I had chosen fashion. Knowing the difference helped guide me in figuring out what it was I had really been meant to do all along: tell my stories.