‘Why?’ Series: Change, Livinlikelarz, and Halfthestory
When people ask why I do what I do, I often say it’s because I know what I “don’t want to do.” At an early period in my life, I learned the power of change, but more importantly the three different types of change:
1. The change that happens to oneself;
2. The change that one can make in his or her life; and
3. The change you can make in someone else’s life.
1. The change that happens to oneself
Four years ago, I arrived at Vanderbilt University, hungry to squeeze every opportunity out of the world, setting my goals 5-10 years ahead. Those of you that know me well, know I most likely had my life mapped out from the time I was 10 years old. Like most kids, I thought success was measured by strength, power, and “shiny things.” This was the beginning of my “soul search” – my attempt to discover my life’s calling — scary for most 18 year old students.
After my freshman year at Vanderbilt University, I was eager to find an internship in another city, which just so happened to be Los Angeles. I packed my bags and hopped on a plane to the “city of angels,”- no car, no friends…halfway across the country. It was the first time in my life where I had the opportunity (and challenge) of listening to my soul, when nobody was around to tell me who I was or should be.
It was this year, that I began to jumpstart my creative endeavors and my fashion blog Livinlikelarz, came to fruition. I spent days sending emails, running to shops between coffee breaks to buy clothes and style them, forced to return them because I had no budget! I desperately searched for blogger meet-ups and connected with creatives to shoot photos on the weekend. I found my “people,” because I found the thing that filled my soul…creativity.
2. The change that one can make in his or her life.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, starting my blog was the beginning of one of the largest changes in my life. When I came back to Nashville, it was difficult adjusting to an environment that wasn’t necessarily a fashion hub. My passion came to life in L.A., but I also knew I was in a beautiful, blooming city. Instead of looking forward, and focusing solely on my personal growth and life ahead, I focused on planting seeds in this magical city.
I began sending emails and connecting with artists of all types: photographers, designers, musicians, and producers. I can remember the days of shooting lifestyle photos outside the Vanderbilt library, and attending Nashville Fashion week for the first time. I made an active change to connect with those around me, and to create something every single day. Before I knew it, I was working with designers, featured in Teen Vogue, and the Chicago Sun-times Splash as an “Instagram Star.” I took a turn, and studied abroad in Paris during the fall of my Junior year— I was determined to use this as an opportunity to expand my network internationally. Every city I visited, I made it a goal to connect with an artist and build something beautiful, whether it be a conversation, photos, or a meal shared with a fellow creative soul. I felt free, wandering the streets of London and Paris, shooting street-style for my blog, as well as other notable media outlets.
When I returned to school, life seemed to move even faster. I began attending New York Fashion Week in February and September of each year. I spent my summer in the city, working for Spring, a mobile marketplace for discovery and luxury brands. This was an incredible experience, but there was still a piece missing: the third type of change, and the most important part of life – ” the change that you can make in someone else’s life.”
3. The change you can make in someone else’s life.
There was one moment in September 2015 that changed everything. It was 80 degrees in the second week of September at New York Fashion week. I was racing from the Betsey Johnson show to the AOL HQ to listen to DVF speak. I had fifteen minutes to make it from Penn Station to Broadway and 12th, and my subway got stuck. I ran for my life in a double denim outfit in the middle of sweating bullets. OH, the icing on the cake… I slipped, cracked my phone, scraped my knees, and had tears rolling down my face. I gripped the door into the AOL studios and raced to the front row, with only moments to spare to hear the queen of fashion speak before me. Later that day, I posted a glamorous photo, before the tumultuous series of events. It was in this moment that it dawned upon me… I was only telling “#HALFTHESTORY.” Behind every glamshot was a story, and the truth. What people didn’t see was the overwhelming anxiety, all-nighters to complete work, until I was skyping into my classes at Starbucks. I was frantically treading water… yet I somehow managed I was restless, yet simultaneously exhausted. It was in this moment I decided to make an active change and share the truth with the world. I was not the only one participating in this phenomenon I call “social storytelling.” This was and continues to be one of the largest challenges of the modern age.
Soon after I returned to Nashville, I began creating my master project, #HALFTHESTORY. I wanted to provide a platform for others to share and celebrate the stories that hide behind the social media feeds. I wanted to create a safe place to redefine the meaning of vulnerability, highlighting both the strengths and the struggles. I wanted to inspire others to share their dreams, challenges, innovations, goals, and “behind the scenes” photos as a way to connect, rather than disconnect.
I wanted to inspire actively, rather than passively. #HALFTHESTORY transcends ages, generations, professions, and languages. It has changed my life, because there’s nothing better than going to bed knowing that you made a difference in someone else’s life. It’s invaluable and irreplaceable.
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