I started at FIT in the fall of 2019. Since then, it feels like I’ve had about a million identity crises and about a million and one life crises. I feel entirely different now. I’ve grown more than I expected to in such a short time- I’m sure that’s the case for a lot of us. However, if there was one thing I wish I knew before I started fashion school, it’s that it was going to challenge everything I thought I was utterly certain about.
The surplus of talent can be overwhelming.
The sheer aptitude of my peers never failed to blow me away. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to constantly be surrounded by people who ooze technique and ability. I grew up in Upstate, NY. Kids who can create their own clothing or shoot short films, or take photographs that make your jaw drop are few and far between. I came in with my own set of talents and little hidden gems, yet I found myself constantly watching over my shoulder to see what everyone else was doing. It felt like somehow, everyone was always better than me, no matter what. I used to put so much pressure on myself because I thought my talent development needed to mirror everyone else.
It’s a Competition, Whether You Like it or Not
It’s a common theme in the creative industries. And if we’re being really honest, it’s a common theme of New York City. You work until you’re the very best, but even then the work isn’t done. Someone will always be right behind you, waiting for your spot. I knew this part before I got here. That was one of the deciding factors that brought me here. Pressure keeps you focused and uncertainty keeps you dedicated.
What I didn’t consider though, is how grueling it could be and how fast it would set in. Six hour classes dedicated to perfecting our skill sets. Long nights in the work labs even when the day should be well over. The doing and undoing, just to redo- because it wasn’t perfect. I’ve seen my peers look at work they’ve poured hours of their blood sweat and tears into and decide to trash it. It just didn’t meet the standards taught at fashion school.
I never considered how it would affect my self image.
Thanks to my family, I grew up with a pretty inflated perception of myself. It was drilled into my head that I could be whatever I wanted. I was capable of anything. I was smart, pretty, the list goes on. Flash forward to me staring at a blank excel sheet my freshman year- smart felt like it was out of the window. ‘Pretty’ did too when super models walked in and sat down beside me for my 8am lecture. There’s been many instances like that over the past two and a half years. The students here are so beautiful and unapologetic in being who they are. It took a while to understand that that was something to be inspired by, not envious of.
Since I’ve started at FIT,
I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Changed my hair color more times than I can count, and my wardrobe even more than that. I’ve changed my major and my entire career path; not just once either. I’ve sat in the breezeway wondering what the hell I am doing here. I’ve also sat in the dining hall, laughing so hard, hoping moments like those would never end. So yes, fashion school has put me through the wringer, a lot more than I prepared for. But it’s probably the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Pro tip for fashion school: The presence of someone else’s talents & beauty does not mean the absence of your own.