I guess you could say I’m an idealist, but I’ve always imagined that things in my life would be picture perfect, movie-like. I sometimes like to think I’m a realist, but over the years I’ve learned that’s not the case. I always see the best in people, I expect things to turn out perfectly, and I always expect that life will work out. I’ve never been handed things in life, but I haven’t had to kill myself for them either; I grew up in a loving household with great friends, amazing schools, and incredible opportunities. I’m not saying I didn’t work hard to get where I am today, but I also don’t attribute all my successes in life solely to myself. And yet, though I know things never actually turn out the way I expect them to, I still let my imagination run wild.
When I finally realized I was interested in pursuing a career in writing/journalism, I saw my choice through rose-colored lenses. I didn’t have a ton of examples of what the journalism world is like (I still don’t), but I imagined scenes from The Devil Wears Prada – I pictured myself running around big cities, wearing gorgeous clothing, carrying coffees, and honestly, being miserable in the most magical way (just like Andy Sachs) – but my imagination always saw writing as glamorous, fabulous, and beautiful.
For anyone who is still under the impression that what I just described is the case, you’re wrong. Sure, The Devil Wears Prada lifestyle does exist, but only for the top 1% of the writing world. Unless you work in Hearst Tower in Manhattan, you’ll probably be wearing jeans and drinking crappy drip coffee. Even if you DO work at Hearst Tower, you might still end up wearing jeans! Believe me, I’ve been there (and I even saw Joanna Coles, EIC of Cosmo, but that’s not the point). Becoming a writer does not just magically make Prada shoes show up in your closet and Gucci handbags do not appear on your arm as if from God. Nope, at this point I’m pretty aware that I’m destined to wear H&M and Forever 21 for the rest of my life (or until I get too old for their clothing – don’t worry Stacy and Clinton, I know 35 is the cutoff for miniskirts).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m an idealist, not delusional – I didn’t think that the writing world in Saratoga Springs would be anything like that of the big city, but I thought I’d at least be able to wear heels without feeling out of place (hint: I was wrong). So far in my “glamorous” editorial internships, I’ve only gone on one coffee run. ONE! I thought that’s all I’d be doing, but apparently not. What I have been doing is sitting at the local public library alongside all the homeless people for hours on end, making a lot of spreadsheets, and putting wooden easels together. SUPER glamorous. I’m not complaining, I’ve just been very surprised at what is actually expected of young editorial interns. I’m hoping this will reach at least one other aspiring writer and help you lower your expectations a little – it’s a lot better to not expect anything than to expect Miranda Priestly’s office and get a one-room office that shares entrance space with a yoga studio.
As far as not wearing heels and pencil skirts goes, I still throw them on sometimes (when there isn’t six feet of snow everywhere). I live by the rule ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have,’ so until I’m Anna Wintour and my closet is full of Dolce & Gabbana, you can expect to find me overdressed.