The future of this blog is always something to think about. Many bloggers I have talked to have this exact same thing on their minds. As many of us enter our late 20’s, the drive behind our careers may or may not change drastically. Where exactly will we grow from here? Will we want to be doing exactly what we do now in our futures? How will our current digital presence mature as we mature as individuals? Do we think our careers will revolve around fashion for the rest of our lives? Will we still be having the same urge to share our outfits with you all? Currently, for me at least, this is all left in a big pile called the great unknown. Things have changed so much since I started this blog way back in 2009, which was right around the time I graduated college. I started this blog just as a hobby and as a creative outlet. Never in a million years did I think I could make a living running this thing. But thanks to a little thing called social media and Instagram (INSTAHAM as I like to call it sometimes) everything I do on here has gotten the chance to gain a whole lot of exposure. But a lot of times I miss how blogging was like before social media blew up and Instagram took over. None of this existed way back at the beginnings of DYLANA/SUAREZ (previously Color Me Nana, and before that Dylana in Wonderland . . . cringe). It started to make me wonder, do people even care to visit the blog to read more beyond just a pretty photo? Or would they rather just see something quick on Instagram and call it a day?
To me, social media is a both a really awesome thing and also a really not very awesome thing. It’s awesome because I wouldn’t be writing you right now from the comfort of my own bed and actually saying this is my job. It’s awesome because I have the freedom to share as much or as little of my life as possible on here, and actually get quite a meaningful response to what I put out there from a good amount of those who visit. Whether it be via a comment, a tweet, or an email, it really is crazy to think that some of you out there really take the time out of your day to put in some extra feedback and thoughts. It’s also awesome because I get to do a lot of different things I love to do on a daily basis and I never feel limited. I’m my own boss and I have a lot of control and it feels amazing. Not a lot can say that.
On the other side of the spectrum, sometimes (maybe a lot of times) social media can lend a superficial aspect to how we view the lives of others in relation to our own. This superficiality can definitely force one to lose focus on the authenticity of the content put out there. Social media (Instagram in particular) is designed to showcase a perspective that will get a positive response from viewers (a.k.a. a lot of likes). And especially today, brands work with bloggers based solely on the amount of followers they have as opposed to the actual quality of the content. In reality, numbers-wise, I am nowhere near some of the girls who run fashion blogs out there. But at the same time I am consistently working, and I feel like the quality of my work is the game changer for me. I work hard, I’m passionate, and I just happen to have a blog that connects me to more people than if I didn’t have a blog. As a blogger, it’s not my main goal to work with the biggest and most influential brands out there (although at times I do have the opportunity to do so, which is quite amazing), but it’s not the driving force behind the growth of my blog and of my work.
Personally, I feel like I get the most out of what I do when I am working with the smaller brands, even start ups, who build up these amazing ideas from almost nothing. To be a part of something from the tiny beginning to the end product on a smaller scale level is far more interesting to me. Mostly because it means that I am so much more involved from the get go. I appreciate the industry more when I am actually down and getting my hands dirty. You know, doing the grunt work, as opposed to signing a big contract with a big brand for so and so number of social media posts. Hey, those are nice, too, and I love to support big brands I believe in and who think I am influential, but personally I get the most out of projects I can be thoroughly involved in. I learn the most that way, too.
I work hard to keep it as real as I can on here. Behind the cool outfits, fun parties, and prettier side of the industry is a whole lot of work, organization and spreading myself thin a lot of the times. I do get comments here and there about selling out whenever I put a sponsored-style post out there, and I can’t deny that I do this. But as times changed, a lot on here will have to change, too, especially with me doing this full-time. But I promise that everything you will read and see on here is real and true.
So as a follower of the social media/digital world, what do you guys think? How many of you are actually coming here to learn, read beyond the pictures and dig a little deeper? And how many of you prefer just the visual aspects and inspirations; to be constantly updated with just bits and pieces via other social media platforms, such as Instagram or (dare I say it) Snapchat. Where do you see blogs in five years? This last one is always interesting for me to think about. I think blogs will still be around. There will always be those dedicated readers who will keep on coming back, as others come and go at a much more exponential rate. But in the long run, I think those bloggers with something actually meaningful to say beyond just the chic outfits, designers digs and glistening vacation snaps will survive. Quality over quantity. I like leaving a blog feeling inspired not to just dress well, but to live well. Those blogs that help me think about more meaningful things than just the best ways to layer in winter. Those are the blogs I’ll keep on reading five years from now.
I’m not normally one to get too ahead of myself and think too hard on what lies in my future. 5 days from now. 5 months from now. 5 years from now. I’m more of a moment by moment sort of girl. The uncertainty in the future doesn’t intimidate me, nor wind me up in ways that leave me feeling out of control. In fact, I find it liberating to know that some things can totally and completely be left up to fate. That I don’t have to watch my every step along the way to avoid failure or a path of regret. That how things fall into place, where they fall into place and how long they take to fall into place is just meant to be. It’s the ways we interpret and allow ourselves to be positively open hearted to the moments that lead us up to our final destination (or multiple destinations) that really matter.
Happiness is always key. The pursuit of it correlates almost perfectly with how we factor in the existence of our future into the present-ness of our current lives. What is going to make us happy in the end? What steps do we need to take to get there? I asked these questions to myself all the time. But a lot of the times I found myself feeling less happy when I thought too much this way. I found myself feeling more doubtful. Less carefree. And I have come to realize that making sure our happiness reaches its highest potential in our future is just as important as how happy we are with the little things scattered right in front of us that have no direct correlation with our future. The existence of the right now. And that should be enough to guide us in the direction we were meant to take.
I found this awesome quote recently posted by one of my favorite digital Instagram babes Charcoal Alley. A quote by one of my favorite worldly men of television:
If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.
– Anthony Bourdain
And advocation to move. Exactly where doesn’t really make a difference. But how you get there makes all the difference. And that is exactly the point.
This is one of my favorite lines from one of my all-time favorite quotes by Marilyn Monroe.:
“Imperfection is beauty. Madness is genius. And it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
Marilyn had it right all along. Love that lady. Always will.
The idea of loving your imperfections has always rung strong with me ever since I was little. But it hasn’t always been such an easy act of the mind. Especially today, in this digital world, not to mention the fashion industry. Social media + fashion can be quite a harsh thing to bombard your self-confidence with. We are thrown each day images of beauty from all directions. Always something new and sparkly. Each girl skinnier than the next. Skin more glowing. Pretty dresses. Expensive shoes. Big lips. Long hair. Blue eyes. As someone whose full-time job revolves around social media and digital connections, it’s my job to notice and see these things and interpret them, and hopefully in the end make something of them that help me view fashion (as well as myself) in a positive way. It’s not easy though.
It’s really flattering of course to always have people comment (some people I personally know, many of whom I don’t) really nice things about what I’m wearing or how I look. It’s nice to know that someone is appreciating what I put out there, because no matter what I try to be myself the best that I can. An online persona can easily be deceiving. So many so-called perfect lives out there in the world it seems on that little grid on our phones called Instagram. The way I see it, as long as I am able to inspire by being myself and expressing my values and the way I see the world via my true nature, then I believe that I am doing my part. There is no need for me to hear these comments (no matter how lovely they can be). I post what I like and things that represent who I am, and that’s really all that matters. Yes, getting the comments and the likes helps me get more work (and yes, I am just a girl getting by in the big bad city of NYC), but never would I ever fake it to make it. I’m proud to say that I have never been that sort of person. Nor do I think I ever could. And I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised and how I have perceived myself growing up. Working hard and loving yourself go hand in hand. And I am by far NOT PERFECT. Quite the opposite in fact.
When I saw the above image on Pinterest it really stuck out to me. Why you ask? Well, not many people know this about me (or would even notice this about me), but I grew up with scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine. I found out in elementary school, and was forced to wear a back brace 23 hours a day to help my spine get straight again during the years I was growing (the curvature was around 20 degrees at the time). A back brace is not the most coveted option for a a girl just about to head to junior high school. I fought and fought and fought against the mere idea of it. I mean I was already too tall, too skinny, and too ethnically ambiguous enough. I went to a school that was mostly all-white and hispanic. For me, being a little bit of everything ethnically was definitely different. Did I really need another thing to draw attention to myself? I mean, what kind of boy is going to want to kiss a girl with a back brace on???!!?? Not to mention the braces on her teeth, as well. Double whammy dudes. Come on. So I lied to my doctor and only wore it at night. It helped lessen the curvature of my spine a little, but after a year of totally not wearing it in high school to see if it would stay the same or get worse, guess what happened. Yup, my the degrees of curvature of my spine got severely worse (over 40 degrees), and my only option was surgery. I was freaking scared, I was freaking pissed that I was born with something that I could not control, and I definitely did not seem beautiful at all. I felt sub-conscious all throughout high school about my body and beat myself up over it.
Finally, I underwent the surgery when I was 18, after strong recommendation by my doctor. It was a time-consuming surgery and the recovery was quite long and painful, but I was strong. My doctor was perplexed that I already started driving myself to and from school after two months (wasn’t that easy though). Sitting for long periods of time wasn’t pleasant at all. And I felt like I grew an inch or two after the surgery, which took some getting used to. I wasn’t able to pursue dancing as much anymore, which I was sort of heartbroken about at first, but nearly 10 years later and I’m still the queen of the dance floor (or at least I think I am). And you know what, my spine wasn’t really that big of a deal throughout that all. It was just a bump in the road that easily flattened as I put my focus on other things. College, falling in love, falling out of love, travel, my career, moving all the way to the other side of the country after having only like two days to think about the option.
Today, I don’t even think about the two thin titanium rods that line each side of my spine, screwed in securely into my vertebrae. It’s as if they aren’t even there anymore. And if I ever do get the rare chance to catch a glimpse of the light scar than runs down the length of my spine, I don’t flinch, but I feel proud. I always said it was my symbol of strength and my own personal stamp of approval. The stamp of approval that you give to yourself weighs so much more than the ones you get from anyone else. Just saying. And maybe someday I’ll get a tattoo to run alongside it. It’s not something that I’ll ever think of as ugly again.
It’s interesting to see how much a mindset can change when you really make an effort to accept yourself for who you are and to focus on the things outside of your body that make you feel happy and worthwhile. I can’t even really remember the entire process, but it happened, slowly but surely, because deep down inside I really wanted it to. I may not even quite be there yet, but I’m most of the way there, and as an adult in her (do I dare say it) LATE 20’s, that’s a lot to say.
So there you go. An outcome that could have left me feeling forever imperfect, and that is in fact literally imperfect, may just be one of the many aspects of myself that are perfect for just that actual reason. Because they are mine and no one else’s. And yes I might be the tallest girl in the room in most situations, but at least everyone tells me I can wear anything because of my height. I might not have sparkly blue eyes like my Dad’s, but I love my brown one’s that look green in the sun and are shaped like almonds. I might not have the perfect little ski-slope nose like the ones I see in beauty campaigns, but I love mine that reminds me of my Chinese mother and half-hispanic father. It gives me character. It used to be the thing I hated most about myself when I was younger, but now I have far more things to worry about than a little bump on my face. ha. I’m naturally thin, but no I don’t fit into a size 26 jeans like I did when I was 18, but hey I appreciate eating and drinking beer whenever I feel and not beating myself up for it afterwards. A reason why I decided to not go down the modeling path when I was 15. I could’t imagine living a life where only my face and body was what I was being defined by. It still is, sort of in a way. It’s inescapable in the industry I work in, but there are so many more aspects of myself to put out there with. Why limit myself to just what is physical. There’s so much more to me than just my body and face. The closest I’ll get to modeling is an Instagram picture, and I’m totally and completely happy with that.
I have learned that the more that I come to accept my “imperfections”, the more I am able to love myself with no regrets. Imperfectly perfect. It is what makes us unique. Now get on and start loving yourself when you look in the mirror, and the rest will come.
I find it almost hard to put into words how grateful I feel right now. For the life I have right now. The family I can always count on. I love them so much. The friends I can rely on and laugh with and create new things with. The city that I live in that constantly keeps me inspired and in an endless state of admiration. The places I have visited. Knowing all the places that I know I will be able to finally visit someday. Being able to dream at night and wake up in the morning knowing that it doesn’t just have to be a dream. The freedom to express myself however way I feel resonates with me. And to not feel judged doing so. Grateful for the food I eat. The pillow beneath my head. The water I drink. And the coffee I get to have each and every morning. The water running underneath my feet when I go home to California. The feeling of well worn toes at the end of an early evening stroll from Upper Manhattan to Lower Manhattan (it hurts but man does it feel just as good at the same time). Making my own work hours (a.k.a working 24/7 or taking a random Tuesday off if I really want to) and still being able to fully support myself in this crazy city. The frogs I’ve kissed that are taking me closer to my prince. The love and appreciation I have come to have for my body, mind and soul. Coming to terms that I am a much more spiritual person than I am religious person, and not being scared to mask that. The beating of my physical heart. The twisting of my broken heart. The flutters of my happy heart. I am thankful that I am able to feel and learn from each emotion at its fullest.
So many ups and down. Not really sure if they have quite balanced themselves out yet, but I have come to realize that one can’t have one without the either. Every high we experience is elevated by a low. So I have come to be thankful for those lows, even though they have been heart wrenchingly painful and even extra depressing. The times that I would spend nights in a row crying and crying until I could not cry anymore. The times that I stopped eating because it was the only thing that could make me feel in control. The times that I felt that running away was the only possibility even though I had no idea where I would go. Because these lows have made me stronger and have opened my eyes to what is out there that is better and sunnier. That it is up to me to make things better and to live the life that I have always wanted for myself and for the people I choose to be a part of my life. To be open to the things that are good with clear eyes. I have recognized all these things. And for that I am grateful. Grateful that I have learned to brush myself off after I have fallen and to not let any bruise stay on me forever.
Happy Thanksgiving all you lovely people. I hope you all recognize the things that make you happy in your life and grasp onto them as tightly as you can. Let it flourish. Be grateful for them. xo