February 9, 2011*

This past weekend I began my first class at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Originally I had signed up for the fashion styling class, as this is the exact topic of my WISE project, however, just days before the class began, I was informed that I had been moved to fashion merchandising ‘with some styling’. At first I was worried that I would no longer be learning about the topic I wished to know, but I soon realized that fashion merchandising is incredibly important to know if one wishes to work in the fashion industry. Because fashion merchandising relates the creativity of fashion to the necessity of making money doing it, I knew this class would benefit me in several ways.
With a renewed sense of enthusiasm I entered the classroom on my first day to a group of 7 other student just as excited as I. There was an immediate feeling of belonging as I entered; I knew that, for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who thought like me and saw the world in a similar way. It was obvious that we all felt somewhat the same way for we immediately greeted one another and inquired to where everyone was from. Most of them live close to me (up to 25 minute drive) but as we shared ages, we realized we were all at very different places in our lives. The youngest, Emily, was only 13 but had already written for the New York Times and held herself as if she were a 30 year old top CEO (intimidating!). Then there was Allie, the ‘cutie pie’ of the group who was only a sophomore in high school and simply enjoyed fashion. The girls closest to my age (and who would become my closest friends by the end of the class), Jemma and Stephanie, were quirky and fashion risk takers just like me. Finally, the oldest of the group, Evan and Michael, were also the only two boys in our class. Both with their own unique sense of style they would later prove to be able to keep up with the girls when it came to everything fashion. When the teacher arrived, she made a point to inform us on exactly who she was. Clarissa Nicosia, a woman who has worked over 3,000 fashion shows, headed Nordstrom’s fashion department, and collaborated with a plethora of famous designers. I felt my education on fashion could not have begun with a better person. For the next two hours the class got to know one another and what we will be doing over the next nine weeks. Clarissa told us how she had several of the fashion shows she had been a part of on tape and we would be watching them over the course. Along with other fashion videos about designers and trends, class would mainly compose of a lecture from Clarissa and then collaboration time to develop our final project.
As everyone broke for a quick lunch, there were attractions among the different students that I cannot possibly understand. With a glance and a smile I had two new best friends, Jemma and Stephanie, and the three of us headed down the street to find a lunch cafĂ© like we had known each other our whole lives. Jemma told us about the fashion blog she had been developing for years as well as her desire to become a photographer while Stephanie’s mentioned her father was a popular fashion photographer so she had fashion in her blood. There was a moment, as we discussed our lives and the class so far, that I realized these two girls understood exactly what I was saying and feeling. There is something that fills your heart when you realize that you have found others that share your opinion. Never had I met someone like this before. At one point in our conversation I mentioned the happiness I find in choosing my outfit each morning. For years this statement has been answered with either “that’s weird” or “you shouldn’t care so much”, but on this day I heard “me too!” and time froze for a second as my heart melted with joy.
            After we returned to class, the remaining two hours were spent sharing our favorite blogs and shopping sites. Yup, I was definitely in the right place. At the end of the day, I walked out of class conversing with Jemma. We discussed our shared love for photography and San Francisco and, before I knew it, we had made a date to tour the city together and take pictures. I don’t think I stopped smiling for one second as I drove home that day. I am doing the right thing for the first time in my life. I am in the right place for the first time in my life. I am no longer scared of the future.

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