Honestly, I don’t have to explain myself to anyone, but this isn’t for those who think this is a waste of time and money. This is for those who are genuinely interested in why I have chosen to move to England for a year. Also, I hope this is encouragement for those taking a risk to stop dreaming and live. I still have people who think I wasted my potential majoring in fashion the first time. “It’s not a real job,” they say. Okay, it’s a multibillion-dollar industry, and clothing is the second largest consumer good in the world. So, no real job here.
I completed my first degree at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in May 2017. My degree is a BS in Textiles, Merchandising and Design with a concentration in Apparel Design and minor in Entrepreneurship. I spent my Spring 2016 semester in England at the University of Salford studying fashion, and it was the most amazing experience of my life.
At MTSU, I learned a thing or two and several important life lessons, but not what I needed for where I want to go. I feel confident on the business side, but I’m ready to finally be on the creative side. I want to be a technical designer, and work on the product development process. I have been invited back to finish third year at the University of Salford to finish a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design in a year. I will complete a collection, a trip to China for fabric sourcing, and an amazing portfolio. Also, I get to share this experience with the most amazing friends anyone could ask for. Having a BA (Hons) Fashion Design Degree will increase my chances to work for companies that I could only dream to work for, and I will be fully prepared for industry.
I know this journey won’t be easy. Going back to England isn’t like a vacation. I’m going back to sleepless nights in the library and strict constructive criticism. It’s also a huge investment. However, it is worth it. I’ve seen the design students who come out of the University of Salford. They are incredible in their work and confidence, and I want to be, too. I’ve been learning the life lesson of “no guarantees in life”, and being willing to take the risk is hard. Making the choice to be in debt for the next several years has increased my cognitive dissonance. How will I know if it will be right? Someone once told me that it’s impossible to know what’s right in making a decision, but what we can do is make the best choice in the moment. In that, you must accept your decision with confidence. Then be willing to deal with the consequences. If it ends up being the wrong choice, then don’t panic. Make the best choice in order to fix it. Even if a job doesn’t follow this experience, I pray it does, I know I will become stronger and wiser just like the first time. There is nothing in my life I have wanted more than this degree and to be back in Manchester. I fully believe this is the right choice.
There are no ways to fully express how much my experience in England changed me the first time. Every day it continues to impact my mindset and actions. The anger I felt returning after four months of the best months of my life was intense. I’ve never felt so much rage and hatred of where my life had been. For once in my life, I was okay with who I was. I not only liked myself, I loved myself. For the first time, I was able to laugh authentically. My face learned how to smile. Not forced, but genuine. Even from over 5,000 miles away, people at home could sense my happiness. Since then, I have continued the challenge to constantly search for my authentic self. I swore after that I was no longer going to waste my life being unhappy by choosing what was expected of me. All I had ever known was routine and structure. It’s just what happens growing up in an environment that harvests such narrow minded individuals. Even in the freedom of the Bible belt, you are forced to conform to a certain way of belief. Don’t question who God is. How dare you stretch your mind through entertaining different thoughts. Yet, you are expected to be brilliant and accomplished. However, is success really defined based on their definition of settling and living the comfortable life? Is it all in our head that we are the best we can be by choosing the easy career and building a family, or is our community filled with a bunch of brainless brainwashed wannabes. There has always something that has always kept me distant and distracted growing up in Tennessee. There has to be more to life than being stuck here never experiencing other ways of thinking and living. On a positive note, it has lead me to the search for true authenticity.
For the first time, I have never felt so sure about a decision. Sure there is fear, but it’s a healthy amount. Like the first time I went to England, God eliminated every excuse for me to go. It had been the life changing experience I had been praying for. I feel the same assurance the second time. This opportunity will allow me to grow in my career as well as myself. The choice to return is so much deeper than what it seems. This journey is for me, and I’m excited to see where it will take me next.