Saturday, 5 August 2017

Fashion, University and Me - My Love Hate Relationship...

I've wanted to write this post for so long but I guess I've never felt ready to write such a personal post. It's been over a decade since I went to uni, which sounds crazy when I think about it and I think nowadays there are so many paths you can take and only you can know in your heart what you want to to do at 17. University gave me some amazing opportunities and valuable life experiences, that have helped shape the person I am today and I'm grateful for that. I guess what I'm trying to say is I just wanted to share my experience of living independently, careers and learning about myself....

The Beginning...

I started my love affair with fashion in my early teens. My parents actually paid for me to attend this amazing 6-week fashion camp every Saturday in the summer holidays. It was at my local college and I enjoyed every second of it. This is where I started to discover my style, creative skills and passion for fashion. From there at 16 I decided to attend the same college and study fashion full time, This was a two-year course and I can honestly say I had two amazing years of really being able to be my creative self. 

The Big Life Decision

After college, I made the decision to further my education and attend university for fashion design. I couldn't believe my eyes when I got into a university that specifically taught fashion design and marketing, it was my ultimate dream to live and study in London and it had finally come true. It actually all happened so quickly that before I knew it my parents were helping me move up to London into my new halls of residence.

This was a thrilling yet nerve racking experience, bearing in mind I had never lived away from home before and when I used to go away on school trips, I would get so severely home sick (#onlychildsyndrome) that I would want to come home straight away!

When the time finally came for my parents to leave, I think both my mum and dad and I thought what on earth was I really doing?! I knew no one and at the tender age of 18 I had decided to ship my whole life and leave all my friends and family to start a completely new life at university...

Thankfully as the weeks went on I started to make new friends who came from all walks of life and I even ended up being put into a particular residence with a girl in my class which was lovely and comforting at the same time.  

High's, Low's and Everything Good In-between 

The first year was a mix of highs and lows, living away from home, discovering who I was and just trying to do my best on what was an intense course was hard. My weight ballooned in my first year as I just didn't know when and what to eat, let's just say the whole thing was a learning curve.

The second year was also challenging as there was so much pressure for me to be someone I wasn't, I was told I was 'commercial' and 'high street' which wasn't a bad thing in my books but I wasn't unique enough creative and style wise for them to appreciate my skills I had been so passionate about at the start. 

I started to get tremendously stressed, emotional and disheartened at the pressure of deadlines, not being unique enough and just in general not feeling worthy. It got me down big time and I started to lose my passion and confidence for something I had once adored so much. 

On the plus side, I had an opportunity to style an up and coming solo artist and band with two of my other classmates. I also ran a fashion market stall for a month with two friends in a popular well known London market. 

'Life is like a sandwich, you have to fill it with the best ingredients'

My third year was my sandwich year meaning I was able to do a 6-month placement at a company of my choice. I decided to opt for the fashion magazine route and so I got straight to work at writing endless letters to magazines begging them to take me on. I finally got one reply from a magazine that is sadly no longer in business, but this was hands down the best 6 months of my whole university experience! Again I was looked down on for not choosing a fashion design company or fashion marketing internship for my placement but this is truly what my heart wanted to do and so that is what I did... 

I threw myself into the job whole heartily and finally I was mixing with a team of people who truly believed in me. I can't tell you how much fun I had, I really did work and play hard and although I only had my travel paid for I honestly would have worked there for free anyway! 

I got to liaise with PR's, assist on shoots, attend events including London Fashion Week and I even got to pick out clothes for a few fashion spreads too, which was exciting! This was also the place where I discovered I had a fond passion for Beauty too.

It was absolutely one of the best experiences of my life and I was heartbroken when my 6 months were finally up, however, I felt refreshed and finally ready to tackle my last year at university.

Falling Out of Love...

My 4th and final year was the most challenging for me. This was the year I honestly fell out of love with fashion and although there were no exams for me to take, I had to write a business plan, as well as create, design and produce a full catwalk collection. I also had the chance to showcase my collection at Graduate Fashion Week which was the dream goal, as this is where you could truly be discovered.

Unfortunately, there was only a limited number of spaces for you to exhibit at the show so you can imagine how competitive and stressful this became. Firstly I had to present my initial ideas to my tutors before I went ahead with designing the whole collection. I went in excited, positive and genuinely believing I had a potential idea that absolutely reflected me as a person. However, the meeting didn't go well and my confidence was dashed. My idea again was too 'commercial' and I guess just not innovative enough for their standards. I left feeling like I'd lost my fashion mojo completely this time. I felt deflated and I begin to think what was the point to all this and why was the reason I got accepted in the first place?

As the months went on I isolated myself a lot as I just didn't feel like I fitted in anywhere, I lacked motivation and drive and eventually, I started to not turn up because I really felt like I wasn't deserving to be on the course anymore. But I'm not a quitter and in the end, I knew I just had to get through it and complete my degree for me, which is what I ended up doing.

Looking Forward...

Despite feeling wounded after University, I worked within the Fashion industry for another year, before I decided this wasn't for me anymore. Fast forward to now and I have regained my confidence and love for Fashion, and now in my 30's I finally feel like I've found my personal style and passion for fashion again. I also realised my true love was actually beauty and fashion is now a close second. 

Lastly, I wanted to add that this is my personal experience that I wanted to share with you and in no way should this reflect your own individual decisions. I certainly have no regrets as not only did this time shape the person I am today, it gave me valuable life experience, a rather large creative skill set and most importantly a degree that I'm proud to shout about. 

And just remember things may not quite turn out how you imagine, but be sure to stay focused, follow your heart and stay true to yourself and the rest will all fall into place.

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