02/04/2015

You Will Never Make It



I went to fashion school, and it's not half as creative as it sounds. 


Knowing that I wanted to work in fashion but certain that I wasn't a designer, I jumped on the only then-available option: marketing. As fascinating and interesting as I find marketing, I now spend my days wishing I'd studied journalism or literature instead. But what's done is done and at least I have a few stories to tell. 

One of these stories see me back on the day when a fashion journalist came to speak to our class. I couldn't wait: my passion for writing in combination with an endless curiosity and a love for magazines that bordered on the obsessive had made it clear: once university was over, I was going to be a fashion writer. Nothing was going to stop me. Or so I thought.

On the day of the fashion journalist's lecture, I sat in the front row of the class, ready with my notepad and my questions. In she came, a middle-aged lady with dyed hair and bright lipstick. She had the look of someone who'd seen it all - a life full of fashion wisdom to share. 



The journalist went on to tell us her story of breaking into the industry, of facing prejudice due to being a woman, of not being taken seriously by fellow journalists because she chose to talk about fashion...and then she asked if we had questions. This! This was my moment. I eagerly raised my hand.

-What advice would you give to someone who'd like to emulate your career? I asked.

The oracle sighed and shook her head. 
-Advice? I've got a piece of advice for you. Get another dream. Change direction. There aren't any jobs or opportunities. It's better you know this now rather than later. The people who make it have rich husbands so they can afford to work for free. You will never make it.

I felt deflated. Change direction? This was it, this was the life lesson from the experienced fashion journalist? This was the wisdom she'd come here to impart on us? To stay the hell away?

I remained in silence for the rest of the lesson. I blocked out the rest of her spiel on how the journalism industry was in a 'hideous' state. Every now and then I looked over at our professor, who nodded quietly in a corner. This university was a pricey, private one (I was the only one in my year on a student loan), which effectively made them a business, and us the clients. And now they were inviting a person in to tell us that the 'product' we were buying, i.e. our education, was useless?

Furthermore I was wondering what this person was actually getting out of speaking to us. Here she was, selected by the university to lend a motivational spark to the new generation...and what was her message? To give up. I got the impression that the only reason she even came was to feel better about herself and her successes in such a tough industry. 

My mind drifted back to the ex-boyfriend who had interrupted my excited chatter about going to fashion school with, 'it's so cute that you want to work in fashion. I hope you realise that it will never happen for you because you're not rich and have no connections, but still, it's a sweet thing.' To be fair, he meant it as a critique towards the lack of opportunity that defined the Italian job market, but I still made sure to shoot him a 'hi how are you' message long after our breakup, casually mentioning that I now had a job with Italy's biggest online fashion retailer.

I believe that telling someone that they 'will never make it' is one of the most vile things you can do. Firstly because frankly, you have no idea if they will make it or not. Even if you think you do. And secondly because you risk doing some serious damage to the person's self-esteem. Which, if you consider the first point, is a pretty messed-up thing to do. And thirdly because, well, it's mean and don't you have better things to do?

Even so, for me personally, being told that I can't do something becomes the motivation that pushes me, every day, to do it. The drive to prove these people wrong and prove to myself that I could do it is the catalyst I need. To this day, I'd say that the best way to make sure I do something is tell me I can't do it.

A few examples: fuelled by those who said that I could never be an actress, I made my way to Sweden's biggest theatre stage. Driven by the words of those who claimed that I could never be a freelance journalist, I wrote for print and web publications in three different countries (yes, making a living off it). As for those that said that I could never move to London, find a job and make a life for myself here - hello! *waves with my permanent contract, sitting in my London flat*.  Of course there were other things that I wanted to do that saw me fall flat on my face - finding a full-time magazine job, writing a book and learning to play the guitar are just a few (but hey, it's never too late, at least for the last two! I've kind of given up on number one for several reasons) - could be because no one told me that I couldn't do them.

When I was an intern at Cosmopolitan Sweden, my mentor was this amazing superstar journalist named Camilla, who later went on to launch her own magazine and is currently editor in chief of a magazine about entrepreneurship. She taught me to go for what I wanted, even if people were negative. 'People are always going to say that there's the recession or it isn't the right time', she told me, and this really stuck with me. She was a breath of fresh air - a positive voice in a sea of dreary, miserable negativity. 

This is my mindset when people email me asking how they can move to London, be a writer, work in fashion or go vegan. I always try to give positive, constructive advice and never discourage anyone from being or doing what they want. 


With the risk of sounding cliché and 'yes we can' teen magazine-style, the truth is IMHO that if you really, obsessively want and love something, you can do it. There are exceptions of course - if I decided I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast tomorrow, chances are this would prove a bit tricky. But most dreams, except possibly supermodel status, are in reality quite achievable.

So go prove them wrong.




One of my favourite movie scenes, from my favourite film The Pursuit of Happyness.


Picture from Girl Lost in the City

2 comments:

  1. I just discovered your blog, and I just wanted to say that I hope you blog forever!
    Your style of writing is so enjoyable, and your tips for being vegan, and about life in general, are actually quite useful. Thank you for blogging :) I'm officially a fan!

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  2. Thank you so much Maria! Comments like this make my day :)

    I will very probably blog forever, can't immagine life without it!

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