It’ s official. New York has kicked my ass for the last time and I give up. How soon can I get back to Atlanta, and how much will it cost to have all of my clothes shipped? How much am I getting back from my security deposit on my place? I wonder if my sister will let me live with her for a while. These were all of my thoughts from last week. It all started when I got the heads up from my friend in my old department to apply for a full-time role that had just opened up. I jumped at the chance to get out of my temporary role in HR to move to something full time that would mean I can really establish some roots in New York. This didn’t go over well with my then manager, because when I got to my desk the next day I received an email that my assignment was prematurely ended. Putting a positive spin on it, I figured hey no biggie I should be a shoe in for the new position since they know me and specifically requested that I apply.
I woke up really early on the day of the interview to review my notes and get my head together. I even allowed myself to indulge in an iced coffee to get myself hyped up. After two hours of group exercises, icebreakers, and an assessment, I was pulled to the side to get the news that I hadn’t gotten the job. So here I am jobless with no prospects, and I get home to learn that my roommates/landlords are raising my rent. What a great day this turned out to be.
I lost it, and just instantly felt like, ok this is it. This is the sign that I’ve done everything I can do here. I gave it my best and my dreams have died here on this day. I called my friend Lauren from the hallway of the building only for her to get me smooth together and let me know that I’m not allowed to quit yet. She referred me to the temp service that got her placed at a great company making great money. I met with them, and was promptly told to give up on fashion and move to another industry. They got me an interview at an investment company the following week for a role that had a competitive salary and full benefits.
The interview went well enough that they requested I come in to temp for a few days so they could get a feel for me. On the second day of my trial period at the investment company I got a call saying there was an opening for a temporary role at Christian Dior as a PR Assistant. My excitement went to disappointment the instant I learned the compensation was trash. Who the hell can afford to live off of $14 an hour with no benefits in New York? Who?!
I went to the Dior interview anyway, which only made me want the job even more. Here I was in the LVMH Tower interviewing for a dream job with a top fashion house that I can’t even afford to take. Why would the Lord dangle this in front of me like this? Is it a test to see which I’m more dedicated to, the dream or the money? I finished my week long assignment at the investment company hoping I made a good impression and headed to Le Bain that Friday for drinks with Lauren. I gave her the rundown as we looked out over the Hudson and the Meatpacking District from the rooftop of the Standard and asked what she would do. “Jessica, do you want to wear Dior or work at Dior? At this point you need to be able to take care of yourself and Dior isn’t gonna do that for you.”
The harsh reality is that she spoke nothing but the truth. I’ve been struggling here as a starving artist for two years. Living check to check down to the last penny, unable to do much of anything but work and this isn’t the life for me. I live in what is arguably the greatest city in the world and I can’t even fully enjoy it, because I’m trying to stay in an industry that won’t even pay me what I’m worth. The thing about fashion is that entry level jobs pay nothing, because there are so many people lined up to snatch those jobs and they are able to take whatever they can get salary wise. But for someone like me who struggles to pay her own rent every month and falls behind on bills because of it, I can’t. I can’t be fashion’s bitch and take pennies when I know I deserve more. I have to find another way in, because that’s not it. All I want to do is write and talk about fashion and life. This isn’t what I thought my life would be at 28, and I just need things to get better, because I’m dangerously close to giving up. And I’m wondering if I’m just not one of the people who can make it here. How do you know when it’s time to give up and when it’s time to fight harder?