Growing up in North America, there seems to be a formula for how life is supposed to progress. Most of us know it far too well. First, there’s elementary and high school; we learn the fundamentals of academia, and learn to characterize ourselves as, say, a “science” person or an “English” person. Then comes university where we’re supposed to really figure out who we are, what specifically we want to study and ultimately what job we want to acquire once our four years of self-discovery are up. After this, we’re out on our own and the pressure is on: find a job and start “making” something of yourself. Loving your job, day-to-day, isn’t viewed as quite as important as attaining stability, a source of income.
The notion of daring to take a different approach is often viewed as difficult, risky and, quite often, silly, dreamy and/or unrealistic. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to find a career that I enjoyed. I always believed it was possible, and yet, even with this mindset, I found myself working a job post-university that was not at all in line with my real desires in life. I was making good money for my age, and I was working with great people in an admirable company. But I wasn’t being creative, and I was finding myself drained at the end of the work day, unable to muster up the energy to spend time on my own hobbies that make me who I really am.
I started to dream of any way out of my current predicament and found myself looking to the fashion industry. It was always in fashion that I’d interned as a student, and where I thought I belonged. It’s a creative, glamorous industry filled with interesting, unconventional people. So, I began to look into fashion schools.
With the help of my incredibly, constantly supportive parents, I ended up moving to Florence, Italy within a few weeks. There I learned about the luxury industry, made wonderful friends with people from all over the world at my international school and really began to discover myself.
Living in Florence is like living in a dream town. Tiny, cozy and colourful. It’s the perfect backdrop for anyone looking to slow down and reflect. It was during my time here that I discovered that I was really interested in people, in psychology and sociology, and philosophy. I re-discovered my passion for writing and storytelling too, thanks to my courses and teachers at Polimoda, who really emphasized how powerful emotion and storytelling is in business. More than anything, living in Italy showed me a different way of life. In Europe, people live full lives, where enjoyment and happiness are still the top priority, where you take a real, out of office, one hour lunch break and enjoy yourself and your peers.
When my time in Italy came to an end, I knew I wasn’t done with Europe. I felt that while I was living in Europe, dreams could be realized in a way that didn’t feel quite as within grasp in North America. So, I made it my mission to stay.
The next month I moved to Paris. This was a very big deal for me as Paris has always been a remarkably special place to me (being the Fitzgerald-fanatic that I am). When I got here I started interning at a fashion house. I was given access to spectacular spaces where we conducted photoshoots, and to interesting people who shared with me their knowledge on this beautiful country.
Something was not right though, and I knew it deep down. I wasn’t feeling excited about going to work, and while I was there I didn’t feel like I fit in at all. Fashion is a fast-moving crowd of very chic, very cool people. Fashion folk know what’s hip, and have probably already been to that new bar that just opened, last week before it opened.
I am not, nor have I ever considered myself to be, cool. I get my kicks visiting ancient bookstores, watching old films, and reading about health and nutrition. I don’t particularly like to stay out super late, and I like waking up early. I relish in down time, in alone time, and quality time with close friends. I prefer coffee to beer, and tea to wine. I’m more interested in the why behind someone’s choice of apparel, rather than the article of clothing itself. I identify strongly with Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris, as I’m constantly daydreaming about the 1920s literary scene. My idea of a perfect day consists of sitting down with a delicious cup of freshly ground espresso to research a topic or interview an individual and then go on to craft a well-written story based on what I dig up.
In light of this, you can imagine how long I lasted in my internship. Three weeks to be precise. It took this short amount of time for me to realize my place was not there and if I didn’t take the chance while I was living in Paris to really try and pursue my real dreams, I never would and, consequently, forever live with regret. I am thus finally taking the chance to try my hand at the life I always craved: that of a freelance writer. The past week I have lived every day exactly as I’ve wanted and I can’t express how right it feels. All of this being said, my goal with this blog and (length introduction) is to inspire others to embrace their authentic selves, and reach for their dreams.
Up next: photographer and adventurer Seb Telmer lifts the veil on what it means to really lead the life of a vagabond extraordinaire