Because you got this!
In 1994 I was three years into my fashion career when one morning I woke up with a realization that I needed to move to either Los Angeles or New York City from suburban Philadelphia if I was to continue building my career. There was only one problem: I was scared.
Scared to move away from an area that I had finally gotten to know.
Scared to move even further away from home.
Scared to move to a Very Big City.
Scared of the big unknown.
Late one evening after my interview at a company located in the Chelsea neighborhood in New York City, I knew I was definitely out of my league because I didn't know how to catch a taxi.
Even though it was a giant step, that job was offered to me. I accepted.
After giving notice at the job I was leaving, both my boss and his boss sat me down for a chat. They asked me to stay and said they wanted to promote me. I thanked them but replied I needed to take this next step. Then they told me I wouldn’t last a year in New York City because I was too soft. Hearing that made me angry, and a voice in my head cried out, “I’ll show you!”
My bosses weren't the only ones who doubted me. My dad was also not convinced and told me he would keep my car for me. That just made me even more determined to succeed.
In hindsight, they were just mirroring my own self-doubt.
While I was most definitely scared, I moved to New York City in February 1994 without knowing anyone there. I was not yet 25 years old. My logic was that if I could move away for university and then find a job afterwards, surely I could do this. I used that tiny seed of belief and tried to grow it into a mighty tree.
“Success will be within your reach only when you start reaching out for it.”
― Stephen Richards
I began the job and for the first few months rented the corner of a woman’s small living room, sleeping on a futon in the corner. It wasn’t great, but it was a clean place to lay my head after I came home from work at 2am almost every night. After many nights of her bringing strange men home after nights out drinking, I just didn’t feel safe living there anymore. Work was also not going very well, and I was growing more unhappy.
I kept looking for a better place to live. For weeks I looked all over the city for an affordable place with a nice roommate, but every time I’d find a place…I’d lose out to someone else because I didn’t know to put a deposit down on the spot.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou
Then came the day when I found an ad for a room in a modern, two-bedroom apartment on an adorable block of brownstones. I didn’t want to go see it because it was in Hell’s Kitchen — this was back in the day when 42nd Street was still strip clubs and X-rated movie theaters — but something told me to go see it, anyway. The moment the woman opened the door and I stepped inside I knew I’d found my new home. That roommate also turned out to be a soul sister. This time I had my checkbook with me and could put the deposit down to claim my spot.
While I finally had a place to call home, work was still going badly and I felt miserable. To make matters worse, I got into a relationship with someone who mirrored my misery, and things quickly went from bad to worse.
The guy tried to convince me to give up my beautiful Manhattan apartment to move in with him in his unfinished apartment in Brooklyn. I felt torn. While I loved my apartment — my home — I was also desperately seeking love, not understanding that the relationship with this guy was anything but love; it was emotionally abusive.
I was afraid that the abusive job and abusive relationship were the best I could do.
“If you are going through hell, keep going.” — Winston Churchill
“When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn’t hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe
If I've learned anything, it's that you can be down but you're never out. The one thing I had going for me was my home and soul sister roommate. And that was all I needed.
My roommate helped me to see that I was worth more — worth more than that guy treating me awfully and certainly worth more than the job that was slowly killing me.
She believed in me.
She believed in my abilities.
I believed in her but not myself.
I trusted her but not myself.
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer
I listened to my roommate, ditched the boyfriend, and found a better paying job with better hours. And you know what? She was right — I am worth more. I am worthy of being appreciated, valued, and accepted. I am worthy of unconditional love.
I lived six years in New York City, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could survive in the big bad city. What happened next is I met a flying Dutchman while on a trip in New Zealand and knew he was The One. Six weeks later I moved to Rotterdam to share life with him. Yes, I was scared to move overseas, but I figured that if I could move to New York City without knowing anyone and succeed, surely I could move to a new country where I knew one person.
I moved on my 31st birthday, and it was the best present I ever gave myself!
Armand has been the single most positive influence in my life and has helped me open up to become who I really am.
My journey did not start off with belief in myself. What my journey did is teach me that I got this.