Whew. Okay, I'm actually committing to writing a blog. I tried this once before about a year ago, got scared, and ABORTED. I aborted because I felt like I didn't have the time to dedicate to writing and curating a blog that y'all would be interested in reading. My work schedule has become more flexible, and I feel good about jumping into that blog life now!
A few days ago, I posted on Instagram about a little pearl of wisdom my mama has shared with me over the years. She often says, "You have to work hard consistently over time so that when opportunities arise (because they will) you're well prepared and capable of seizing them." Many times when she has repeated this pearl of wisdom, I rolled my eyes and said, "I knowwwwww, mama." I didn't know though. I needed to keep hearing that advice to prepare myself for the last 12 months.
The past year in New York has been one of the most significant years of my life up to this point. Here are a few of the highlights:
1. I grew a thicker skin.
-New York looks like a dream from the outside, but anyone who lives there knows it takes a very resilient person to actually RESIDE there. The city works in tides. You never fully "master" New York City. The low tide comes when you're humble and teachable. You realize you still have much to learn and express gratitude for the little victories of each day. As the victories increase, there's a positive linear relationship with your pride. Then you are HIT IN THE FACE with high tide...The city reminds you of your weakness and forces you to grow more than you ever imagined possible just to keep your head above water. As you cultivate humility, the tide recedes, you are able to get your bearings and start to see the little victories again.
2. I reaffirmed my faith.
-When I moved to New York, I hadn't been especially active in my faith for about two years. I had some experiences that shook me, and I took a step back. Maybe I'll share more about that in a later post... When I started to settle into the city, I felt a pull inside me toward the faith and foundation I had fostered throughout my life before my "step back". I jumped in with both feet. I reclaimed my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. I reclaimed the light that was dimmed in my countenance for a few years.
3. I learned to love myself.
-Self-love is not something that has ever come easily to me. My struggle amplified when I was modeling regularly. I would look through edits from shoots and struggle to find a handful of images that I loved because I would feel insecure about different components of my appearance. I would look at images of other models and influencers and feel extremely inadequate. Teddy was right, comparison really is the thief of joy.
One of the things I love about New York City is walking down the street and seeing people who are unapologetically themselves. Anything goes in New York where fashion and self-expression are concerned. That spirit of the city pierced my heart. I remember walking home from work one day looking at people pass me by and thinking...If I can learn to accept and love all the pieces of who I am, I'm going to be a force to be reckoned with. When you are confident in who you are as a human and LOVE yourself, you are far less susceptible to the criticism and judgments of other people because that's. not. your. focus. You become happier because you foster happiness INSIDE of yourself instead of looking for validation from other people. Okay...maybe there needs to be a separate post on this too. :)
4. I isolated where my passion lies.
-For those of you who don't know, modeling is not my full-time job. I worked in marketing at a beauty company. I couldn't afford to live in the city without that job. My employment ended up becoming a double edged sword—it paid my bills and taught me all about branding, but it also occupied so much of my time that I wasn't able to do many creative projects. I felt suffocated. I told myself the job was stable and a smart choice, but I wasn't happy. I wanted to be empowering others through my platform, ideating content for brands and building out social media strategy.
In the spring, I started gaining traction with creative projects, and I seized the opportunity like mama said. August 31st was my VERY LAST DAY working for the man. It feels so weird and surreal to say that! I think we're conditioned to believe we have to pay our dues in a traditional way, and you aren't allowed to be your own boss until you're in your 40s. That's a freakin' joke. You can create the life you want to live if you work hard enough. However, you definitely have to be strategic about a shift into the freelance space. I decided I couldn't quit my job until I had enough work to replace a certain percentage of my current income. I met that goal in July and put in my notice.
I'll be eternally grateful for the experience and knowledge I gained at my job the past year. It was invaluable, and I forged professional relationships that will continue even as I pursue a less traditional approach to marketing.
I took advantage of every minute I spent living in New York, and I got what I needed out of the city spiritually and vocationally. People spend a variable amount of time in the city before moving onto their next chapter. For me, it only took 12 months. I move fast. ;) My lease was up in September, and I decided instead of paying another $40k in rent, I'd move somewhere I could set down some roots with a lower cost of living and put the excess money into growing my business.
Where to? BACK DOWN SOUTH... Nashville to be more specific. I was raised in Nashville, and spent the past seven years away between college, graduate school, and career pursuits. I have a deep love for the city and its culture. It worked out that two of my clients are based in Nashville, so it was an easy decision!
I know some of you reading this probably think I'm insane for moving out of New York, and you are entitled to your opinion. For me, it's a no-brainer. It makes sense for my next chapter. I'm hell-bent on living a life that is authentically mine. I want a slower pace of life, I want to buy a house, and I want the financial freedom to build my business. I also am very close to my parents who still reside in Nashville. I love that I'll be able to spend more time with them. Those reasons are enough for me to feel at peace with my decision to move. I'll always love New York. I'll visit frequently, but I'm ready for my next chapter.
I hope this post is helpful, even for just one person. I hope it gives you the courage to live a life that is authentically yours. Work hard. Be smart. Seize the life that's meant to be yours.