When I was 17, I always carried a magazine with me at school in case I found free time between assignments. I was copy editor of my school’s yearbook and I loved editing and writing. My English teacher told me that I was a strong writer early on, and I never looked back.
I dreamed of moving to New York City after graduation and working at a magazine. If you weren’t already thinking it, The Devil Wears Prada was my favorite movie. I used to hole up in my room for hours while flipping through all the magazines I could get my minimum wage-earning hands on—and they weren’t the cream of the crop. I spent money every week on Kerrang!, Elle Girl, and anything music-related. I had a brief appreciation for Jane, which was no longer published as of 2007.
As I started to flip through copies of the occasional Vogue my mom would bring home, I realized how powerful an interview could actually be when it came to crafting a story. I even began looking through the pages for other pieces of writing that were about writers more than the celebrity that was on the cover—essays, most often. I must have been obvious about my desire to be this power-house magazine editor because my friend gifted me with a drawing once that portrayed this very fantasy. In it, I had pink hair, and I was moving through a crowd of people who were all dressed very similar to each other and had the same black hair. If memory serves me correctly, I held a cup of coffee in one hand, a stack of magazines in the other, and a purse on my shoulder. My my mouth was open and my eyes were creased, as if I was letting out a shout of victory.
So what happened? I am not a creative working for any sort of magazine in New York City. I still live in Florida and I have dipped my toes in the freelance writing pool a few times. I have written articles for many publications and I have covered more topics than I can even remember. Instead, I became a teacher when I graduated from college, and for the past year I have settled at a middle school where I teach journalism and oversee the school’s yearbook, newspaper, and literary magazine publications. I have often thought back on my choice to enter teaching and why I chose not to take the risk to move to New York City and try to make it.
My simplest answer: it wasn’t New York City that I was in love with, it was writing. Even though I am not a creative director for any professional publications, I still consider myself some sort of creative director, since I teach the subjects that I do. I also met my husband shortly after I graduated from college. If I had left, I might not have met him. Or maybe our paths would have eventually crossed—if you are a believer in destiny and fate and all of that—but I would not have spent all this time with him. I also would not be close to my family. My sister was born when I was 16 and she is in middle school now. If I had moved away after school, I would have missed out on all those cute, fun childhood years (the middle school years are more…trying).
If I could give my younger self any advice, it would be to appreciate everything I was doing in that moment. Being able to write and get work published while living close to family was a great compromise that I did not even realize I had made. Living in New York would probably have been pretty amazing at 22, but I may not have made it to where I am now at 29. That thought makes me refocus on the things I have accomplished that make me proud. After all, isn’t it all about perspective?