Merry Merry My Loves,
Can you believe Christmas has already come and gone?! I worked right up until Christmas Eve and have been unwinding ever since from the whirlwind that is my life. It's amazing how disconnected you can become from yourself when you spend months racing against a ticking clock; aka my authorized working status in America. Somewhere in the eye of the storm you lose all sense of perspective, why I even went to New York in the first place, and your life is reduced to getting from one day to the next without a nervous breakdown. Finally now that I'm home, the clouds are beginning to part for the first time since June 2011.
It's been months since I last sat down at my computer and wrote a truly honest confessional on my blog. I realized this yesterday when I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Final Fashion, authored by Danielle Meder (a fellow fashion illustrator from Toronto now living in London). I was drawn to her remarkably raw posts documenting her move to the UK, something that I have and still dream of doing. She talked candidly about the difficulties of moving to one of the most expensive cities in the world, being plagued with loneliness and bouts of poverty, while working in an extremely competitive and volatile profession.
"Is it a risk if it is not a choice? It feels like if I were a sensible person, I would not choose to be a fashion person. I am drawn towards the fear, the flux, the fantasy, against better judgement. Everyone I talk to in fashion envies the people with steady jobs and simple pleasures, with a sigh and a sense of fatalism. Because, at this point, what else could we possibly do? We are in too deep to give it up."
For the first time in the last 7 months since graduating, I feel like my concerns are shared. I'm not alone; the fatalism and frustration I feel everyday for loving what can only be described as a difficult profession, is not unwarranted.
Here's the thing friends, I went to New York to pursue a degree in a field that I truly, wholeheartedly love. It has always been my dream to be a business owner, a fashion illustrator entrepreneur, selling products and prints with my drawings all over them. I'm 7 months out of the gate from graduating, 5 months into my 12 legal practical training in the U.S., and the pressure is surmounting. If I plan to stay I need to be sponsored in order to have both healthcare and security in a country that I don't belong to. If I'm employed full-time by someone else, my dreams of a flourishing freelance career fall by the wayside.
Lets be honest, there are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. With no stability yet at a full-time job how can one possibly keep it all going, sending out your portfolio to magazine editor's and the like, while fighting tooth and nail for full-time employment in a jobless country and flailing economy. I hate sounding defeated, or feeling sorry for myself ever. Ultimately I chose this path and I don't regret it for one second. But the internal struggle is hard, the unknown is terrifying. Everything from my emotional, mental, geographical and physical state is up in the air. I honestly don't know where I will be living come July.
Part of me is obviously gripped with fear. I have always been the girl with a plan, ambition that never sleeps, and for the first time in my whole life I have no idea which way to go. Do I want to stay in New York, do I want to leave, do I want to return home for a while, regroup and obtain my two year work visa to live in London? Do I want a full-time job or do I want to buckle down and full-on pursue a freelance illustration career? Do I want to forget it all, embrace the nomadic life and just travel like I have always envisioned for Travel, Write, Draw? The options are endless, the cash flow is not, and I'm not getting any younger lol.
Times like these are a true test of character. Do you give up and admit defeat with your tail between your legs? Is it really even defeat if somehow being where you always imagined you would be no longer makes sense? From the outside my life must seem so charmed. I read such beautiful press about my blog stating how I'm living the life; a young fashion illustrator based in New York. In 2011 alone I illustrated and exhibited at W New York Times Square, drew for ODLR, Lord & Taylor, and Urban Outfitters. I gained two huge clients on my very own within the last 6 months, both FLARE and Fashion Snoops, while the global economy crumbled.
I wouldn't even say I am defeated. I'm unsure, above all else, of which way to turn. So many questions remain unanswered, too many factors aren't yet in my possession. I had no idea what to expect in my young illustration career but I never imagined the heart-crushing disappointments of opportunities lost. For the last 5 or 6 months I have felt like an ant building its sand castle only to have greater elements wash it away. Perhaps if my days weren't numbered in America I wouldn't feel so panicked. How could one ever expect the career they dreamed of to appear overnight, in six months, in a year, in two?
Despite everything, despite all the fears, and the anxieties, I still don't doubt myself. I believe in me and I believe in my tenacity. I know what I want long-term in my career, I have for at least four years now, I just don't know how I'm going to get there. Although we can't look to the past or to others to feel assured in our own pursuits, I still have to believe. If you stop, what do you really have to live for? For fear of becoming too existential, I want to leave this blog post on a positive note. If I've learnt anything at all, it is that your life is what you make it. Interpretation is everything and every dead end is an opportunity for reinvention and a new beginning.
I hope if there is anyone out there who took the time to read this that you found comfort, at the very least, in going through my thoughts. Just know that you aren't alone, and every dream is worth having if it makes you feel alive. Sending you so much positivity and support.