What New York Fashion Week Taught Me About Living Your Dreams
by Veronica R.
One glorious morning a few weeks ago, my friend, Sydney, (hey Syd), who works in the magical world of fashion sent me one of the greatest texts I’ve ever received:
“I might be able to get you into a runway show.”
My heart nearly burst out of my chest. As someone who’d always hoped that one day, maybe, just maybe, after I became a celebrity (for doing who knows what… locking my keys in my car one too many times..?), I may be invited to the exclusive and elusive Fashion Week. It was a dream I wouldn’t even dare allow myself to fully dream because it felt so far removed from who I was. Rather, it was just a hazy image nestled into some dark corner of my psyche that I’d occasionally peek at when drooling over all the girls on Instagram who’s lives I desperately admire.
Yet, somehow, my dream was coming true and so much faster than I anticipated! As I was drafting up my list of 2020 goals I would’ve added NYFW to the list had I thought there was even the slightest chance it could happen for me! It was an unforgettable experience to say the least, but perhaps most unforgettable, were the 5 lessons the experience taught me about living your dreams.
1. Your Dream will Make You Feel Resistant – Do it Anyway
After days of holding my breath, at 10:30pm before the big day, I get the confirmation. It’s no longer a maybe, I’m going to my first ever NYFW runway show. I see the all holy barcode hit my e-mail inbox and I can hardly believe it. And yet… almost immediately after I scream with delight, I’m ambushed by dread. An idea slowly creeps into my brain.
Maybe I shouldn’t go…
Why on earth would I think that when clearly, this was a moment I’d been waiting for forever and may never come around again? But to my dismay, worse thoughts were right behind it.
Everyone will be mean to me, I hear it’s filled with snooty people… What if I get lost? I won’t know what I’m doing and everyone will be able to tell! Now I have to buy train tickets and metro cards.. I shouldn’t spend the money…
And the age old zinger: what on earth am I going to wear?!?!?!?!
Thankfully, I’d been low-key planning my Fashion Week debut ensemble for years should this day ever come. Something bold of course, this is the ultimate excuse to dress up after all! I decided to channel Gucci and wear one of my latest thrift scores: an emerald green dress covered in embroidery, beading and rhinestones. I layered it over a second dress with a Peter Pan collar (1. for warmth 2. for cuteness) and styled it with a green belt, socks and heels.
Creating the outfit had given me a burst of positive energy, but the moment I was done, my brain was back to convincing me not to go. I believe this is what Steven Pressfield has coined “Resistance” in The War of Art. It’s the idea that anytime we’re called to do something wonderful, make art, step outside our comfort zone, live our truest destiny, we essentially go through the hero’s journey. We get the call, but we’re afraid of it. We resist it. Some people go on resisting their whole life, feeling guilty for never leaving their comfort zone but fearfully staying comfortable nonetheless and regretting it once it’s too late.
I wasn’t about to be one of those people. I was going to see this journey through to the end.
2. “Self-made” Doesn’t Exist
As I sent myself into a frenzy trying to prepare, I was shocked and touched by how everyone around me was not only just as excited, but willing to help make it all possible. My Mom offered to spend her Sunday morning driving me to the train station rather than sleeping in. My sister gave me her train tickets and Metro card that she could’ve used for herself. My fiancee also gave me his metro card and offered to pick me up from the station when I got home.
But the kindness didn’t end there.
On my disgustingly-early-for-a-Sunday train, I coincidentally ran into my friends John and Bridgette, on their way to a parade in Chinatown just 4 minutes from where I was headed. The whole way there, they happily helped me take pictures of my outfit, very important for such a momentous occasion! Then there was Aaron, the sweetheart standing next to me wearing fabulous blue cowboy boots. We struck up conversation and as soon as he heard this was my first NYFW, he took me under his wing and guided me along as the seasoned vet he is.
What I couldn’t stop thinking throughout this whirlwind day though, (other than OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG), was that somehow, despite the fact that I’m essentially, how shall I put this mildly… a f*cking nobody, I’d made it to Fashion Week! And in such an endearing way, it was clear that I couldn’t have done this alone.
And then it hit me… “self-made” is a fallacy.
We all have help, in big ways or small. When you fill the majority of your life with wonderful, supportive, caring people, they want to see you succeed just as much as you do.
3. Nobody is a Nobody
I walked into the bright, airy studio overlooking a stunning view of Manhattan and suddenly found myself seated next to some of my biggest inspirations. Was I seriously breathing the same air as Eliza Cardinal Tamkin from Man Repeller? Was I really sharing precious and limited but-cheek space with Stephanie Arant on the bench? Was I honestly having a casual conversation with Alyssa Coscarelli about her Miu Miu shoes? And part of me wondered… what was I doing there again? I began to realize what an ironic choice my emerald dress was…
I was quite literally and obviously very green in this whole world of fashion.
Then it hit me: Yes, yes I am sitting here with all of these wildly successful and prominent people. And the reason they’re all here is because at one point, when perhaps they were still “nobodies” like me, they believed that they were somebody with something to say and something wonderful to share with the world. Thus, they grew to be the icons they are today.
So if I could be there, in the same room with all of them, what’s stopping me from being in their position one day too? The space between us was drastically decreased, and it was humbling to realize that they’re all just humans. Talented, hardworking, successful humans, but humans. And I remembered that I too am somebody with something to say and wonderful things to share with the world. Aren’t we all?
Because at the end of the day, “Somebodies” are just somebody, and nobody is a Nobody.
4. The Universe is Totally on Your Side
Okay so maybe not totally… we’ve all had those days when your hair sucks and every light is red and you’ve spilled the smoothie you made in effort to “start the day right” all over yourself and you find yourself screaming “why have you forsaken me smoothie!?!” On days like that it feels like every force in the galaxy has it out for you.
But seriously, not to sound completely woo-woo, but The Universe, God, Mother Nature, The Powers That Be, whatever you prefer to call it, is vast, right? So just as much as there’s space for unknown forces that seem to be having a good laugh at your expense, there’s absolutely space for forces of nature that are 100% rooting for you (get it? Nature?? Rooting!??) And I’ve noticed that the more we focus on our good fortune, and the closer we get to living our destiny, the more that good fortune grows.
This was one of those days where everything was just going right! Between having friends and family who even care to help me get into NYFW, randomly meeting my friends on the train and ending up in line next to someone so kind, it seemed like these were little validations that I’m on the path I’m supposed to be on. And as one last little happy coincidence, as I left the show on cloud 9 and walked towards Miu Miu to window shop, I accidentally ran into KarenBritChick, another one of my all time biggest inspirations. I’d been playing it cool and holding back much of my excitement all day, but when this happened, it seemed like all my dreams were coming true at once and… well… I totally fangirled. Oops.
If I scared you with my overzealousness, I do apologize, Karen.
5. You’ve Found Your Calling When You’re Eating Everyone Else’s Shit Sandwich
I first heard this term in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (which is a serious must read BTW). The original idea comes from Mark Manson. He believes that “everything sucks, some of the time.” It’s up to us to decide what sucky things we’re willing to put up with, in other words, what shit sandwich we’re willing to eat, in order to do what we truly love.
So the next day, after it felt like some Cinderella-status enchantment had worn off, I was back to my day job. I was regaling a few work friends with my fashionable adventures when one of them very frankly said “oh yeah, I went to that a few years ago. Hated it.”
Ironically, his name is Frank.
It was comments like these that had contributed to my Resistance before the show. For years I’d lusted over the idea of Fashion Week, and was disappointed every time I read an article or heard an interview with someone who revealed all it’s worst qualities. They didn’t like how tiny the benches were, they said everyone who went was stuck up, they said it was boring, etc. I half expected to find myself feeling the same way but all I could think was how exhilarating all of this was!
But that’s the thing. It all depends on your taste for shit. I was willing to loose sleep, spend hours traveling, walk around in the cold with my hands going numb and maybe even deal with some rude people just to be a part of the action. I adored waiting in line to watch slinky models march down the runway for 15 minutes with music pumping so loudly you can feel your heart vibrate. For many people I know, that’s a shit sandwich they’d never be interested in eating.
But truth be told, I can’t wait to eat it again and again.