When I was 10-years-old, my grand life plan was to be a professional ballerina AND an OBGYN…(because clearly those two careers goes hand-in-hand). I’ve always loved kids (hence the helping birth babies thing…I just failed to understand what that actually entailed) and who doesn’t watch ballerinas in awe and adoration? Over time, I learned I had a passion for writing and said so long to my previous life plans. I was about 13 when I changed my mind and was stuck on the idea of becoming a fashion magazine writer.
Fast-forward to 2011 when I was a junior at UT studying journalism. I landed an internship in the fashion closet at a glossy magazine (forgoing the name, can’t remember what contract I signed way back then, ha!). My college roommate also scored an NYC internship during the same summer, so we packed our suitcases and planned to share a queen size bed in an itty bitty Manhattan apartment for the next three months. And yes, of course we envisioned a very Sex & The City + How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days NYC life. Andie Anderson, anyone? 😉 However, a few days into my internship – I quit.
During my 3-day stint in the fashion closet, I was overworked (…stayed from 9am-midnight, no lunch break!), unpaid (…remember those internship days? Ah!), and belittled terribly. My breaking point was when one of the fashion assistants (who was our “boss”) told me I wasn’t allowed to make eye contact with her unless I was spoken to first. For context purposes, I was 21 years old and she was 22. Aaaand that’s when I grabbed my stuff, bawled all the way to McDonald’s in Times Square, super-sized my meal (this is notable because it shows how upset I was, ha! …Oh right, and the fact that I was eating a midnight dinner alone at McDonald’s…) and called home. The following day I said goodbye to Manhattan and my “dream” career.
I know not all fashion internships are as mind-boggling-awful as how mine went, and the fact that it wasn’t an editorial or web department gig makes a significant difference (…I was part of a herd of cattle in the fashion closet) – however, it was enough of a reality check to have me running the other direction.
Fast-forward three years when my blog was slowly starting to gain traction. I had just left a marketing role at Kendra Scott and was babysitting for a really wonderful family who kind of took me under their wing as I figured out my next career move. I was playing basketball with the boys when the 12-year-old asked what I always wanted to be when I grew up. I replied with, “A fashion magazine writer.” This kiddo was clearly more insightful than me and responded with, “Well, you’re basically doing that right now with your blog, but for yourself. That’s really cool.”
This was probably in the top 10 best moments I’ve ever had – not only because a pre-teen kiddo thought I was cool (really a shining moment there, especially since I was unemployed at the time, ha!), but because I recognized that I was living out my childhood dream, on my own terms and in my own way. It’s also pretty embarrassing that he sparked that realization while simultaneously kicking my butt in H-O-R-S-E.
Yesterday my mom and I were traveling home from a trip to Florida and we had a conversation about our career goals as young kids. She lived out her dream as a flight attendant (remember the Pan Am girls? Serious inspiration! My mom eventually got on board with Southwest Airlines in the late 70s), and it was pretty wonderful to say I was living out my writer dreams, albeit in a more new-age, social media kinda way – but equally fulfilling.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I’d love to know if you followed that path or created a new one along the way!
(Ps. The publisher of the magazine I worked at in NYC is no longer allowed to hire interns. They had numerous lawsuits filed against them regarding internship abuse – looks like I wasn’t the only one who had that kind of experience!).
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