My birthday was just a few days ago and I am now 27 years old. Naturally, I thought about my life and all I have been through and accomplished in my earlier years and became overwhelmed with emotions both good and bad. We all do it. We all question if we lived our lives to the fullest, made the best of the year that has passed, or did the best we could to achieve our goals. So many questions, so few answers, but one thing rings true, we do the best we can with what we know and with the resources we have at the time. This has been me my entire life, always resourceful, always working with what I’ve got even if I have close to nothing. These past few years have been a roller coaster and though they may seem glamorous through my images, I have worked very hard and have gone through hardships just like you so I decided to write this post to show you all what I have learned in my 27 years on earth. I don’t usually do personal posts like this so bare with me if my thoughts are all over the place.
SURROUND YOURSELF AROUND GOOD/LOYAL/LOVING PEOPLE
My birthday was incredible. I felt the love from all over the world and my friends & family made sure that I had the best day ever. I thank my lucky stars for everyone who has been nothing but supportive about everything I do. Unconditional love is such a gift because it is so hard to find people who will love you no matter what. I am an extremely loyal person so I always expect the same in return. You would think that loyalty and respect comes natural to everyone but trust me, it doesn’t. Sadly, those expectations have become “high expectations” in a world where people value all of the wrong things and devalue all of the right things. I am not perfect but I treat my friends like family and I would give the shirt off of my back and the food off of my plate at any given time….but I will also give them a rope to hang themselves. But that’s entirely up to them. Sounds harsh but when you get to a certain age, you get tired of investing your time into people who don’t value you. I know a lot of people but my circle is very small. My ride or die is my best friend Santiago who has been by my side and has been my light through break-ups, hardships, and every single one of my darkest moments. You don’t find friends like that. I am not in any way religious but I thank god every day that I have friends like him who value friendship like I do. Santiago always says that friends are like bases. Your first base friends are your acquaintances for “hi” and “bye” conversations, your second base friends are your occasional conversation friends, your third base friends are on your speed dial because you always speak to them, and your 4th base friends are your home run ride-or-die’s that you can talk to, tell your secrets to, and count on no matter what. Always aim for homeruns and learn to keep those you may not be sure of at a safe distance till they can earn your absolute trust. I have learned that you can love people from a distance. I also learned that you should seek to find the same type of 4th base friendships from the people you date. If he doesn’t treat you like his best friend, move forward. In time you will find someone who will offer you his love and friendship. I know it is hard in a world where people keep loving and leaving one another because they don’t share the same values, but giving up may mean that we miss out on an opportunity to find love with someone who could potentially make us very happy. I have had relationships, very few, but most full of turbulence. However, I have no regrets as I learned from the pain, learned a lot about myself, and have become so much stronger. With friends, more often than not, I constantly find myself befriending/defriending people who take advantage of me or become ego driven and engulfed in this plague called “fame” and it has made me distant to the idea of expanding my circle because in all reality, they exhaust me. I’m a giver and people just take take take from me and I’ve just become..TIRED. However, these are the types of people who make us grateful for those gems that we come across in life who give back and never let us down. Eventually, you learn to trust your intuition and you become better at filtering out the people who make you unhappy. With that said, I am thankful for my real friends and have learned to be just as thankful for my sham friends (& failed romances) though I appreciate them both for different reasons.
DON’T WAIT ON ANYONE
It feels good to have a team for moral support but it wasn’t my team who built me. Everything I have ever accomplished in life has been with my own two hands. For those of you who would love to walk in my shoes, understand that these shoes are not easy to walk in. I have had to work 10 times harder than many of the people who do what I do. For example: for years I wanted to be a pinup model trying to book anyone I could on Model Mayhem. However, there aren’t any real pinup photographers here in NY. Most of them are located on the west coast. Sure I have worked with some great photographers but I also worked with many bad photographers who didn’t understand my vision. So I decided to take matters into my own hands by taking my own photos. Now I’ve become so good at it that I don’t need to book another photographer for the rest of my life. Of course there are still photographers that I would love to work with but my point is when you really want to make something happen, sometimes you have to do it yourself. If you are in the same situation all you have to do is get a good camera, learn how to use it, get a tripod or a good friend to take your photo, and learn how to utilize photo shop. Everything from the layout of my website, the HTML, the photos, and the banners are all self-taught and self-made. I have learned to combine and build my talents so I could wear many hats and not depend on people. Educate yourself and don’t limit your dreams because you don’t have a team. Be the jack of all trades in your one woman show so you don’t have to count on people to do what you can do too.
KEEP IT REAL
When I first got into blogging light years ago, it wasn’t this big thing it is now. Blogging was a platform for REAL people to state their REAL opinions about whatever interested them. It was an organic way of listening to the people who weren’t published in magazines or modeling in them. My goal was to showcase my creativity with fashion, my views on life, love, and art, and my journey to becoming the woman I have always wanted to be. People often laughed at the idea and some told me that being a blogger sounded like a boring life and now everyone and their mother is a blogger. My blog wasn’t an act of being trendy, it was created because I felt I had something to say and share with the world. I am not the best writer in the world and I am sure many of you grammar nazi’s find flaws in my posts, but it doesn’t stop me from saying what I want to say and writing what I want to write. It is in my nature to always be honest with everyone and most importantly with myself. I find it to be extremely strong and admirable to be unapologetically yourself in a world that tells most of us creatives to conform to popular fads and standards. My life and my blog is living proof that you don’t have to CHANGE but me more of yourself as you grow. Just look through my archives, everything built up to this point and I am still GROWING. Being a blogger has changed my life for the better and has helped my introverted self speak to people from all walks of life from all over the world. Sure I have been published in a ton of magazines and have worked with a ton of brands but the real gift is the people I have met along the way who have helped me learn a thing or two about myself and how I affect and inspire them. When I have women message me about how I have helped them with their body image, I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I never knew that by just being “yourself”, you could inspire and breed courage to those who are afraid to do the same. Positivity is contagious. The more we spread the message that we are not perfect, but we are beautiful, creative, smart, courageous, and loved, the more people will be influenced and learn to love themselves.
STOP CARING ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK
Growing up, I never really cared what people thought about me. I always did whatever I wanted to do no matter how many times I was bullied or told I’d never amount to anything in life. It was the bullying and discouragement that made me want so badly to prove them all wrong. I was vindictive in the best of ways. A tough cookie with a soft interior who had a lot of heart. I didn’t want to be like the other kids but I did want to be accepted for who I was and that didn’t happen until I got to high school and even then I faced adversity. This is probably why I am a humanist. I have been on both sides of the fence as the bullied and the popular and I can tell you right now, both are exactly the same. There are people who will dislike you no matter what you do and it is usually a reflection of themselves and their own lack of self-love. Once you realize that, you will never give a shit what anyone thinks about you. With that said, don’t exhaust yourself with caring about what people think of you. Stop over-thinking that outfit, stop over-thinking that personality, stop over-thinking about how people perceive you. Overdress, be yourself, allow your inner creativity to shine through and I promise people will appreciate and love you for who you are and those who have an issue with it can kick rocks.
NONE OF US ARE PERFECT
Self love is the best love. Though many of you think I have the perfect skin and body, trust that I have issues just like you. However, I just learned to love and accept my body because I knew exhausting myself with insecurities was not going to get me anywhere. We are ALL beautiful in our own way and none of us are perfect. Fat, skinny, tall, small, black, white, we are all queens. I’m a size 2/4 and my thighs still rub like a size 14. We have to accept our design and appreciate what we’ve got. I have struggled with insecurities in the past and still do now at times. I love my body, I just have always had skin issues and have struggled with severe acne my whole life. So much so that I have keyloids from the stress it has caused my skin. For those of you who don’t know, A keyloid is a growth of extra scar tissue where skin has healed after an injury. So basically, I over-heal like some friggin Wolverine super hero! WOOO….No. As cool as I make it sound, it sucks a million. I constantly have to monitor even the smallest of paper cuts and blemishes hoping they don’t turn into keyloids. And where one grows, another 30 of them appear. This is why I can’t get tattoos. They will just rise into one big giant keyloid. Many of you don’t see them in my photos because I photoshop them out but I have keyloid scars on my back, legs, and chest. I photoshop them out because I feel they take attention away from my photos. I see it all the time, people always look at me and ask me if they are burns and I don’t want to have to answer those types of questions every time I put up a post. However, now you know they are there and that I don’t have porcelain skin. Oh, and there is no cure so I will have them for the rest of my life. I struggled with it more as kid because it made me feel like I couldn’t relate to anyone being that I didn’t know any other kids that had keyloids. It wasn’t until I met an actual burn victim years ago that I finally learned to accept my own skin. She was beautiful and radiant and burned all the way up to her face and was still confident. Her beauty just shined through and she inspired me to let my smaller issues go. Sometimes, our flaws are only visible to us and invisible to the world. Allow your flaws to make you strong. Mine haven’t stopped me from doing photo shoots, getting dates, or wearing whatever I want to wear. Trust me, the grass is greener on your side of the fence, you just have to water it and watch the flowers grow.
I am still trying to master the art of working smart because I am more of a creative soul than a business woman. Many of you think I survive solely on my blog and make a ton of money doing what I love. WRONG. I work like ten different jobs and I have no life. I barely have any time to contribute to my own personal blog/business but I force myself even if my eyes are bloodshot, to publish posts on this website, update items at my online shop, and update all of my social media accounts to keep you updated on everything. This is a labor of LOVE before it is a labor of money and trust me, most brands don’t want to pay you at all because most bloggers are working for free doing half of the job I can do. Sure I get a ton of free clothes and get to choose what like but clothes don’t pay your bills. I have to spend hours editing and resizing images, uploading them to wordpress, and then I have to write the story behind the images including links. Many of my posts take as long as 6 HOURS and after a 9 hour day at work, it takes a lot out of me. But I do it because I LOVE IT. Aside from working hard on my blog to create engaging content, it takes even more work to fight being discouraged. Though I have reached a great level of success, what many of you don’t know is that most agencies that represent bloggers continue to turn me down because I am not “mainstream” enough. So basically, I have to manage myself and build as I go. So imagine working 5-6 jobs, managing my website, and answering hundreds of emails a day. I realized this is not me working smarter, its me working harder and if these agencies won’t manage me, I will just have to continue doing it myself until I am so good, they have no choice but to pay attention. This is why I am moving to Vegas…the cost of living is cheap and I have opportunities to work better jobs that are flexible with my schedule and will allow me to have the freedom to work on my own personal business till I can spread my wings and fly on my own. Many times we find ourselves working working working and not actually LIVING and as a workaholic, I love to work, but as an adventurer, I love to LIVE. Working smart is finding a healthy balance of both. So if you feel exhausted and aren’t seeing big results, move forward, find a new job, find a new home, find a new hobby, and never give up or settle. Work hard for your happiness, go where you are embraced, and trust your struggle; that’s working smarter.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR GROWTH & TRUST YOUR STRUGGLE
Look back on your life. Are you a lot better off than where you were 2-6 years ago? Taking a look at my past, I sure I have some things I wish I could have changed but everything happens for a reason and I have learned that everywhere we are right now is exactly where we are meant to be. No regrets.
“I love the woman I have become, because I fought to become her”.-Kaci Diane
As a kid, I never dreamed I would have come as far as I have. All I knew was that I wanted to be a positive influence on society and share my creativity with the world. I have conquered that dream already when I started this blog and sometimes I forget how much I have accomplished to get here. You have got to TRUST YOUR STRUGGLE. I struggled and have been through hell and back to be where I am now and am so glad I can look back on my life with a smile because I MADE IT. I may not be as big as many other bloggers in the world but the fact that I have thousands of readers who tell me I inspire them makes me the happiest person in the world. I truly believe that gratitude has a lot to do with success. Ever so often, we forget our achievements and the obstacles we have overcome because we are distracted by what we have yet to accomplish. If you have been working hard against all odds and have never given up on your dream like I have than you need to give yourself some credit. Create a realistic goal of success and when you reach it, be content. As frustrating as it may be, even for me, we must have patience. We are all a work in progress and though we all wish we could just know all of the answers to life, we have to allow our lessons to be learned and rewards to be given when the time is right. Enjoy the journey and take on any hardships like the king/queen that you are.