I write this for all small-town girls who never think that their dreams will come true. I also write this for any young woman who deals with and has had to overcome the challenges of chronic illness and had to attend surgeries instead of spring break. You’re not alone. Your goals can be met. You just might have to work a little bit harder!
Grow up in a small town in Connecticut a few hours from the greatest city of all time (New York City that is).
I was looking at apartments to rent at the age of six. This was a red flag to my parents that I would probably end up here.
Attend Public High School with several high-achieving people who do not understand ambition that is unrelated to an Ivy League education.
In said small town, in said public school, I dealt with a lot of classmates like this who would comment aloud that my desired path (one in fashion and styling) would amount to nothing.
Feel chronically ill your sophomore year of high school. Spend this year going to doctors who don’t believe in your illness.
Here is yet another group that does not believe in me or my future success. Feels like these challenges are trying to to make me doubt myself. But I’m not giving up on my health or my goals.
Find an amazing neurologist at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Finally someone who believes in me! Doctor works with me medically to get my ambitions back to being feasible.
Get diagnosed with two chronic illnesses at 15-years-old.
They are called Ankylosing Spondylitis (a.k.a. an inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine) and Occipital Neuralgia (a.k.a. major headaches from chronic pain, in neck, head, and behind the eyes caused by nerve damage).
While I am relieved to finally know what is going on, the road is still long. It’s also dejecting as peers now give me even lower odds of succeeding without significant help.
I get 3 procedures that summer and start injections. Junior year the headaches and back pain are so bad that I must get 12 more procedures, and I miss 125 days of school. I got two incompletes that year. Given the previous academic hurdles facing me, I work with my school to develop a senior year schedule where I can sleep in and attend partial days. This helps get the pain under control.
Meanwhile, I apply to colleges. I don’t get into my top school in NYC, but I do make it into DePaul University in Chicago with a nice scholarship for leadership 🙂
Attend DePaul University in Chicago.
I make Dean’s List; better still, I make AMAZING friends.
And yet, by the end of my first semester at college, I begin to realize that Chicago is still not New York City.
At start of second semester, be in so much pain that you frequent the hospital weekly for IV medication and then get hospitalized twice because you cannot walk.
Upon second hospitalization, realize it’s time to go home and take care of this with surgery.Meanwhile, while I was recouping from the operation (they burned all the nerve endings in my neck!), I can’t shake the feeling that Chicago is not the place for me.
So, I apply to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) because it now clear that New York City is the place for me, and these health issues I have are not about to stop me (even though it sucks). It’s the hand I was dealt; gotta keep moving!
Get accepted to the premier fashion school in the country (FIT) in NYC.
I officially moved to New York August of 2015, and I could not stop smiling. It was that same giddy excitement I felt when I was six years old looking at apartments.
Hustle. And take advantage of opportunities available to you.
I get a few 1-day jobs assisting at fashion shows.
Within two months of arrival, work behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center.
I got to be the assistant dresser for top Victoria’s Secret model Maria Borges!
Keep hustling, and stay grateful as your life officially takes off.
I applied to two internships with celeb stylist Kemal Harris, and editorial stylist Allison St.Germain. I get them both!
From my hard work for both stylists, I start getting recognized on my own as an assistant stylist, and I am hired to do freelance work for Ann Taylor Loft and loft.com.
This leads to getting an Assistant Stylist credit in the Improper Bostonian Magazine and their website.
Now because New York is not cheap and I like to shop (could you tell given the field I’m in?!) I need to supplement my income. So I start working at Charming Charlie’s. And by showing a little initiative, within weeks of taking this job I was promoted to Head Store Stylist for window displays.
So I write this in 11 steps because I want you to know that it can be done. That the challenges get you to level-up. This is not to say it’s simple. Eleven steps don’t account for the anxiety and worry over feeling like it was never going to happen. Nor does it account for the amount of pain and sadness one goes through when yet another road block (health related, or not) is presented. But I really do think that life does work out. Now I am #CRUSHINGIT and PROUD!
by Marley Bocian, 20
Marley Bocian is currently a full time student, intern, and freelance stylist living in New York City. She arrived in New York by way of small town Connecticut and Chicago. Her drive and initiative have landed her — at a very young age– by-lines in the Improper Bostonian. Her ” passion for fashion” has led her to work behind-the-scenes at New York Fashion Week and work for Bust Magazine.
BUSINESS/CAREER GOAL: Editorial Stylist
SCHOOL: Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) for Advertising + Marketing Communications
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