You know that moment in Devil Wears Prada when Andy and Miranda pull up to a fashion show in Paris and Miranda says to Andy,
"Oh, don't be ridiculous. Andrea. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us."
And then Andy promptly jump out of the car and throws her work cell into a fountain.
My reaction was quite the opposite as our car pulled up to the Cipriani on 42nd St. for the 2013 Accessory Awards of America. If anything... I think I squeezed my work phone a little tighter. And I sure as hell stayed in the car. I actually kept waiting for security to scrutinize me and say,
"You sure you belong here? Who the hell is KB?"
Walking into the black tie affair, surrounded by my fashion idols, I kept thinking back to a misfit blonde middle schooler, who, so desperate to fit in, bought a pair of pink corduroys from Abercrombie & Fitch. I've kept the pants as a reminder that daring to be different is what got me this far. Because needless to say those pink pants did not help me "fit in."
With Tory Burch casually talking to friends behind me, I kept telling myself to breathe in every moment. When I exchanged a conversation with Hamish Bowles (Intl Editor of Vogue) I thought surely I had actually been hit by a cab and this was my heaven. Three years ago I was a pre-law student who knew she'd hate her life as a lawyer, but didn't know what else to do. Further back than that I was a girl from the neighborhood of Queens, who'd probably marry a guy from the neighborhood, have a few kids, and live out my life on Woodhaven Blvd. I had spent most of my childhood peering at life through windows, and suddenly I was inside the room, with a seat at the table.
Hamish & Me
The ACE Awards reignited a fire in me that I had felt burning out. The past three months have not been easy. They've been full of painful truths, pushing the limits, and learning how to walk in heels over a cobblestone path. I still trip from time to time, but I am no longer afraid that there might not be someone to catch me. I had my chin hit the pavement a few months ago and I learned how to get back up. Scars, stitches, and all.
I love sitting around a table of friends (old & new) sharing our truths, discoveries, and goals. But with these conversations comes a veil of caution, because to do and say how we really feel takes a level of bravery that most people choose to forego. We choose denim over pink corduroys, or we buy the pink pants for all the wrong reasons.
As I sat tables away from Steve Madden, Tommy Hilfigher, and Rebecca Minkoff, I couldn't help but realize--these people I've idolized are no different than myself. The future belongs to the brave ones. The people I look up to made a choice. They wore pink pants.
Failure is horrifying but so is never having tried. Easy to type but hard to live by. I have always strove for a perfection that I now realize is a product of my overactive imagination. And yet at one point in my life, I let someone tell me I was less than what I was made to be. I chose a false sense of success instead of the bravery in letting oneself fail. For it is through failures and cut open chins that I am seeing the world with eyes I thought I had lost. I am seeing myself in the mirror and I've slipped back into my corduroys. Denim is overrated.
One day I hope to have a daughter (in the far, far, FAR future). I hope to sit with her one day in the kitchen of our New York high rise and tell her about the months her mother spent putting herself back together. I will tell her about nights lit by the candles of friends, mornings that insisted to be met, and car rides with her aunts where we talked and sang. I will tell her about the movement I walked up the stairs of the Cipriani on 42nd St. I will tell her to never give up on anything you love.
I will tell her that honestly, I want to see her be brave. Because I was brave with her in mind. I pushed on in a denim dazed world. I imagine if she's anything like me, she'll roll her eyes and go off to call her boyfriend. But one day she'll have to show the world how big her brave is--and I'll have my pink corduroys in a bin in the basement. Just waiting to come back out.