OPT Year - Expectations vs Reality
"I DID ABANDON MY VISION - I put achieving my goals on hold."
I personally expected the OPT experience to be somewhat like taking a gap year working for and gaining experience with any of the most prestigious fashion companies, because, well - I've got a degree from FIT on my resume now.
Definitely not how it worked out.
Yes, I'm currently working for a very wonderful fashion brand that I love and I'm learning so much from, but when I was done with my Associates last year and tried finding a job I was S-T-R-U-G-G-L-I-N-G.
Let's just get down to part one of my OPT/Gap year expectations vs reality that had me shook
My honest expectation after my degree, that was met with an unexpected reality, was getting a PAID job as a recent fashion graduate in a city that's known to be one of the Fashion Capitals in the world.
Basically, I would go for interviews and design companies would want to work with me, FULL TIME, without pay - offering lunch OR transportation and never the two together. How?
Listen, New York City is expensive and the fact that people assume international students are 'rich rich' is beyond me. I learned quickly that to get both the experience in design and money to stay in New York I had to be an intern during the week and a sales associate on my weekends and days off.
I also very quickly learned how easy it is to lean towards money and abandon the vision, and this taught me - with time - to be EXTREMELY careful of the kind of people I allowed in my space, be it at my job, internship, or on social media, because I did abandon my vision - I put my goals on hold.
Fast forward to a month of working and interning - the stress of retail and interning and trying to maintain some kind of a social life was A LOT so I dropped one (I wasn't about to lose money and friends over a job that didn't take care of me the way I wanted it to, even if it would help in the long run) - Yes, I quit my internship (lmao) and started working full time.
I knew it was a bad idea at the time but it was the easiest way out to avoid becoming a negative individual. I ran on the principle: peace of mind over all else - abandoning that principle cost me much happiness in the past and I decided not to go back there. Sooooo, an insane decision, yes, but one that I very much needed to make.
Now, I was making some money, but my creativity was dying - FAST
Since I didn't have time to make clothes or sketch, or simply create, (because retail literally takes away any extra time to do anything other than sleep and eat), I decided to dress up instead. I decided to style myself gorgeous every single day just so I would be doing something with the little creative fuel I had left in me. And that's how I was given a Stylist position just a little bit down the line, and fell in love with it.
One of my favorite Christian writer and travel blogger Eudora Leonore posted these words and I couldn't agree more,
"The beginning of a thing never really looks like much of anything at all" - Eudora Leonore
I left that job to go back home for Christmas and New Year's, staying longer than my usual two weeks because I needed to refuel every part of me - and that I did