Faking My Way into NYC
I'm nine months into living in New York City. I'm not sure at what point you actually become a New Yorker, but I feel like every month you can pay rent here, you can say you've "made-it" in New York.
The more people I meet here, the more I realize that everyone is sorta 'making it'. Or 'faking it', until they do.
I've been good at faking-it all my life and it turns out my faking-it is actually hustle - and this is how it got me to New York.
I was born in Bosnia and my family and I moved to Germany in reaction to the Bosnian War in the early 90s. Then in 1999, Germany forced all the refugees to leave, so once again, we had to find a new home. After applying to Visas wherever we had family, we ended up in Boise, Idaho.
Now to learn English, make new friends, discover a new culture, switch schools and start over, again. This change was a hard one for me. I remember crying, wanting so hard to make friends, but not even having the same language to communicate with. I remember spending a lot of lunch breaks with my 4th grade teacher, too scared to go out and play with the other kids.
I was so scared of what others would think of me. I had it in my head that they would see me as stupid because I couldn't communicate.
So I faked it.
My parents taught me to show up every day, give your best and learn from the good and bad. They fled a war, learned two languages, worked 12-hour days, cleaned offices, struggled, adjusted, and were still amazing parents.
Quitting was not an option.
So I showed up, even though I hated it, with big smiles and in good spirits, and ended up being really glad I had. I learned the language, made awesome friends and slowly, but surely, Idaho became home.
Fast foward to 13 years, I graduated with a graphic design degree and found myself working as a designer in an ad agency. Another new transition.
When you switch from school life to career life - shit gets real.
Boy does the world of faking it apply to no better place than the advertising industry. Fake it translated to Sell It. Convince them that this is going to work and that they will love every ounce of it, before they even see it! At the end of 3.5 years there, I was working as an Art Director and loved my team. I had grown in confidence as a designer, and a woman in business, and felt proud of what I'd achieved.
The New York Dream
Then came another dream - my European heart was pulling me to one of the most international cities in the US, and in 2015 I decided it was my time to move to New York. I had visited my friends the previous summer and fell in love with the art, the people, and the rush of it all.
After the trip, I couldn't really get it out of my head. I had these crazy thoughts of what it would be like to live there. Terrifying - yes. But I had done it before - between countries nonetheless - so how hard could a coastal change be, right?
Cue nervous laughter, sweaty palms, and tears.
I knew if I wanted to make this happen I had to commit. I set my date for buying a one-way ticket to November 5th.
Honestly, the hardest part of it all - was deciding to go for it.
Long, sleepless nights of nightmares and fears of leaving my family and everything I knew. What if it doesn't work out? What if I fail? What if I don't find work?
I told myself the only way to know was to go and see if I could 'fake-it-til-I-make-it-in-New-York.'
So I went, and boy was it crazy. 400sq ft apartment with two roommates. There were cockroaches, there was no space, no privacy, and a whole lot of uknowns. I was so happy that I had made the move, that those seemed like minor details. Then it was time to 'fake-it-like-you-run-this-joint-and-get-someone-out-there-to-give-you-a-job' moment. Work came quickly. I got hired at an agency - that lasted for about five months. Then I had the opportunity to work on my own - and I snatched it.
Because it scared me and was something I had always wanted to try.
I'm living in Queens, working for myself as a designer, on a flexible schedule, with a killer team. Trust me, it hasn't all been smooth sailing, but I surely faked myself into a dream of a job. Turns out, after years of faking seemingly "effortless" confidence, it is actually that belief in myself that landed me where I am today.
In moments I felt like I couldn't do it, I ran head first into the challenge and always surprised myself in the end.
Have I made it? I Still don't really know what that means, but I do know I'm up for all the craziness this amazing city has to offer. The scarier, the better, as I am excited to see what see I can fake my way into.
Written by Amela
Amela Subašić is an art director/graphic designer living in New York City. Born in Bosnia, growing up in Germany and moving to Idaho as a refugee, her love for challenges has her working as a freelancer in the Big Apple. With an advertising agency background and a title as a former AIGA chapter president, Amela is all about brand story-telling, as she aims to help her clients put their best ideas forward and makes sure they look good doing it! An inspiration seeker - she explores new countries yearly, loves fashion and has been featured in Vogue, and continues to seek new faces and places to create great work for. Learn more about her at www.amelasubasic.com and be sure to check out her Snapchat and Instagram @Subasicaly for daily motivations and inspirations!