For about eight years, I chased the jet-set, dream fashion career, hoping to be the next big thing in the industry. I got started in it for a variety of reasons. At first, I just liked creating stuff. Down the road, my motivations didn’t align with my true needs, rather, I focused on what I wanted and only wanted, though, making clothing, I did enjoy. Designing clothing enhanced my confidence and gave me pep in my step, but something always felt off.
The creative process of designing and sewing eventually took a toll on my health. You’re probably thinking, wait…didn’t you just say you enjoyed it? Let me explain.
I did enjoy the process of creating until the process of creating induced pressure — pressure to make money, make it big and become established in the fashion industry, even if that meant no time for me, my family, or friends. And yes, while my motivations were to “make it”, I found this to be a mentally exhausting motivation. People around me applied pressure to make sure they were getting promoted for their hard work, and of course, I promoted them and also showed gratitude for my collaborations and partnerships with colleagues. For the first time in my life, I had a solid core group of friends (mostly models) and colleagues to turn to for professional reasons. By 2012, I was putting on fundraiser fashion shows and six months before these events, I’d be like a mad woman, not stopping even to take a breath. I’d sew until my fingers cramped and ached (which didn’t take long). People didn’t realize I wasn’t like Valentino with a whole crew of seamstresses; it was just me doing all the work and sewing.
I designed dresses, coats, sweaters, all sorts of clothing items. You name it, I’d make it. Several times a week, even on weekends, I’d be working, doing photo shoots and juggling a relationship while pursuing a dream. By the end of 2014, I had concluded: everything became too much, and I suffered countless burnouts due to overworking and staying up all hours of the night to finish sewing projects for shoots, fashion shows, and fundraiser events. All throughout 2014, actually, I endured walking pneumonia and didn’t know. Then, at an event, I collapsed in the restroom and had a scorching fever of 102.9. And yes, while I had my healthy diet and made smoothies each day, when I was on the run, I never ate healthy if I was held up for hours at a photo shoot. I could feel the burnout coming months before, but ignored my body and its warning signs. Our bodies have a way of telling us: “ENOUGH!” The collapse in 2014 made me rethink the path I had chosen. It turned out, over time, fashion and the jet-set lifestyle was like a crutch, or something I relied on to avoid my reality and of course, silence. I had such a fear of silence and being alone, fearing my mental health would intervene.
My credibility and integrity as a person wound up in jeopardy because I couldn’t keep up with the demands of being a solo creator in my business. I couldn’t juggle everything; so consequently, my professional and personal life began crumbling. Then, on Christmas Eve of 2015, my lung collapsed while flying on an airplane from visiting family and nearly lost my life. When I say nearly, let me be clear — I barely made it through that near death experience. Barely. And worse, nine days after my near death experience, I went and participated in a fashion show in which I had invested. I couldn’t say: “no, I’m recovering,” and at the event, I attended it in a wheel chair while on pain medications and this one thought made me reconstruct and make drastic life changes.
After that event, I began saying “heck no” more often. By 2016, after an excruciating recovery from the lung collapse and a new chronic pain diagnosis, I walked away from the jet-set career for my sanity, well-being, and mental health. My emotional health was depleted as a result of so many disappointments and let downs. I needed to walk away. Did I grieve a little bit? Sure. I enjoyed some things, but it came to the point where I couldn’t juggle living life on the run all the time. I don’t miss eating lunch out of a container in my car and sometimes dinner because of events. I don’t miss sacrificing weekends and time away from my partner. I don’t miss sewing like a mad woman for hours on end and stressing out about deadlines and wondering, “Will what I make for this person make them happy?” I based my happiness on the happiness and satisfaction of others.
Towards the end of 2016, when I was fully recovered from lung surgery and back to eating healthy, exercising, and getting my insomnia under control, I took time off to explore other paths, but at first, I didn’t know where to start. I had some fears and anxieties about wiping my slate clean. Just before 2017 commenced, I envisioned my ideal year. I kept a journal and wrote daily, and put myself through some mind-mapping exercises. I dug into my past and asked myself, ‘What do I want to do?’ and left the world’s opinions on what everyone else believed I should do out of this process. Then, I took some trips down memory lane and recalled how much I enjoyed writing. In my fashion career, I blogged a lot and was writing every day, but I had other desires and aspirations. From the time I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of being a book author. Heck, since age ten, I was writing fiction stories before knowing what fiction was.
So, I began writing each day. Last summer, I got an idea for a novel and wrote the first draft of it in a month. I decided in February of 2017, once the novel was complete, writing is my true passion. And, I got a second idea for a novel and am almost finished with it. Now, I’ve taken the ultimate risk and signed up for a writer’s conference in Chicago to get my work reviewed by established industry professionals. I am nervous, of course, but am confident about the work I’ve produced. I’ve proved to myself: I’m dead serious and am utterly dedicated to becoming an author. I don’t want to do anything else.
Everyone’s reasons for changing careers are different. For me, my health, mental health, and well-being were on the line and now, being a writer suits my lifestyle. Silence and being alone doesn’t scare me anymore, especially after I’ve incorporated meditation in my routine. When I’m writing, I am serene within myself and it’s an empowering way to be creative. The doors to my imagination open and I run wild with it.
These days, I’ve vowed to myself to never again eat a packaged lunch or dinner in my car. I am not somebody who can do the “jet-set” lifestyle, and that’s OK. Not everyone is. In my spare time, I still sew and make things for fun, but my passion is writing. Sometimes in life, you’ll find yourself chasing a dream, but dreams spring from ideas in our minds and it’s never what we make these dreams to be. I thought fashion was my dream until it became a nightmare. Walking away from fashion had its challenges, but it turned out to be the best thing for my health and well-being. Now that I’m writing regularly, I’m living with purpose and intention, and I feel like myself again.
Originally published at medium.com