I am everything I’ve learned and more

Today I received my Graduation application letter and felt inspired to write a piece that will hopefully inspire you in some way. Growing up I was never the smart kid in class. I was your 2.6 GPA student who found herself in the ceramics workroom when she should’ve been studying. Learning never came easy to me. From an early age I had always had problems with traditional schooling. I never saw it as a huge problem until my senior year of high school. I was rejected from all my top schools. I knew I didn’t want to settle and decided to go to community college. After my first semester at community college I told my parents I was dropping out. My parents were disappointed and tried again and again to get me to enroll in classes. I knew that I needed to find what I wanted to do in life and school was not it at the moment. I worked full time in retail, got my first tattoo, and began finding myself.

FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising changed my life. Many people don’t understand why I would go to “fashion school”. They think less of me. That I can’t handle “real school”. The reality is that traditional schooling is not for everyone. At FIDM I thrived and was able to express my creativity in every class. During my last quarter at FIDM my teacher talked to me about possibly continuing my education and getting a bachelor’s degree. At first I was like no way jose. I refused to return to traditional schooling. After more consideration I realized that in order to achieve the goals I wanted I was going to need a higher degree. Let me tell you it has not been an easy road. My first semester reminded me of all the reasons why I hated traditional schooling and I almost dropped out again. Instead, I decided to made it my mission to graduate a semester early and keep pushing even when life pushed back. Sitting here looking at my graduation application is surreal.

What have I learned through this journey?

  • Never be scared to take chances. Dropping out of college was my parents worst nightmare come true. Don’t get me wrong, I was scared too. I was young and had no idea what I was doing or what I wanted to do. Sometimes you have to take the leap of faith and know that God’s got your back.
  • Don’t be ashamed of who you are. I used to hate not being the smart kid in class. I would get nervous every time a teacher would call on me because I didn’t want everyone to think I was dumb. However, when I found myself learning about things I was passionate about everything was different. I’m proud to say that I’m not like everyone else. I learn differently and that doesn’t make me less smart than you. And yes “fashion school” is “real school”.
  • When you see a roadblock, don’t get discouraged. Instead make it your mission to overcome it. Life happens and nothing will always go according to your plan. SMC told me I would have to stay an extra semester when I was first accepted. I took it as a challenge, took online and summer classes and knocked that extra semester out of the way. Grind till you own it.
  • Surround yourself with people who get you. Don’t let negative energy get in the way of your journey. Not everyone will understand you and that’s okay. It just means that they don’t need to be a part of your adventure to your goals.
  • Never stop doing what you love. Follow your passion and see where it can take you. Even when others doubt you. Block them from your mind. It’s about YOU and what you want to do with your life. Don’t go after money and material possessions. Go after what your heart desires.
  • If you don’t like your situation, change it. Remember you are in control of your own life. Don’t just sit around and expect things to happen for you. Put your foot on the gas pedal and make things happen.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes. Life is all about making mistakes. One quarter while I was at FIDM I was taking 5 classes and decided to take 3 extra classes at a community college while working part-time. HUGE MISTAKE. I found myself over worked, stressed, and running like a mad woman. I ended up having to drop two classes which would forever be on my transcript. Instead of beating myself up, I learned that I can’t overwork myself like that.
  • Take care of yourself. Sometimes you have to put yourself first because when you are not in a healthy state of mind, you can’t do your best work. Feed your body, mind, and soul.
  • Set daily goals for yourself. Every night before bed I write down my goals for the next day. They can be as small as finishing my essay by 1pm. Setting daily goals helps keep you on track and makes you feel good about yourself when you accomplish them.
  • Read motivational quotes. This is a major key! I like to follow motivational/wisdom/biblical quote pages on Instagram so I am constantly reminded to keep pushing. I also keep a box of fortunes from fortune cookies so when I need a little pick me up I can just grab one from the box and instantly my mind is reset.
  • Treat yourself. We can be our own worst critics. It’s so important to reward yourself when you accomplish major goals. This can be getting a Starbucks drink, buying those shoes you’ve been eyeing for a month, or going out with your friends and having a good time. In the end you deserve it.
  • Focus on the reward, not the obstacle. When we begin to set our mindset around our obstacle we do not allow ourselves to be motivated. Instead we only think negatively. When we have the reward in the back of our head, all our actions will be out of motivation to reach the finish line.
  • Feed what is feeding you and it will feed you better. For me this is God. When I am in alignment with God and trust in His process I see myself begin to blossom and doors opening. Claim it, Speak it into existence, Pray on it, and It’s yours.

To this day many people in my life think FIDM was my biggest mistake. That dropping was my biggest mistake. What they don’t realize is that I found myself, my passion, and what I wanted to do in life. Not what my mom or dad wanted me to do. But what I wanted. My advice to everyone out there is strive to be your biggest fan. That when you look back at your life you can be proud of who you have become.

Trust in the process.

XO, Valerie

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