As a writer, you’re the constant observer. You ingest the scene, the subject, and scenario. Yet, you rarely reflect on yourself, except via the words you’ve produced. Your world is defined by being in the background of those in the spotlight, yet in many ways you define what the “spotlight” is. It’s very selfless, but self-centered work… if that makes sense. Famed writer and Professor William Zinsser once noted: “writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it.” I see truth in this statement, the rush you get when you see your first byline is nothing less of euphoric. However, helping someone tell their story and bring light to their dream is no less thrilling. But for the New Year, I’ve chosen to tell my own story. I’ve chosen to take stock of myself. Where do I stand? Where am I going? This is my interview with myself. It’s my turn to answers the top five questions I normally ask to lead in or break the ice with a subject. So I guess I’m up….
Q: What is your greatest fear?
EG: It’s two-fold. If I have to sum it up, it’s regret. I deeply fear disappointing loved ones. I left my hometown at 17-years-old for college and never moved back. I’m there for holidays and birthdays, but I don’t see my family and friends as much as I would like. I chose my dreams, which makes me feel guilty. Not that I could change their worlds if I were there, but at least I’d be there to support them whenever they needed me. It weighs heavy on my heart; sometimes I regret leaving and resent myself for being selfish.
There is humility in coming home.
But I also fear not living to my full potential. There was an exact moment when I realized that regret would entirely kill my spirit. I was in high school leaving the city bus stop in downtown New Haven, heading to my part-time job at a local discount store in Hamden, CT. I overheard a late-20-something girl discussing what she “had” once been; she was still living in her past glory. Not enjoying the moment she was in. She was stuck. It was sad, she was still very young, but she was completely and uttered enthralled with her past. She was never going to be able to see her future or understand her full potential. I said to myself, I will never be that girl. I will live out my dreams.
Q: What was your fondest memory from childhood?
EG: Gosh, there were so many. It may have looked harder from the outside than it actually was. In my eyes it was all-idyllic. But if I really had to pick one, it was Christmas Day(s) on Read Street. Back then, my mother and I lived with my grandparents. Actually, my aunt and her kids also lived there, as well as my great uncle. Combined, I think there were about maybe 4-5 kids, and 5 adults all in one house. But it worked. It was perfect. The festivities would start the night before with my mother and grandfather wrapping gifts in the living room. It was sheer chaos, but there no was greater love. We’d wake up with a sea of presents under the tree. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but they did. Later in the morning my other uncles and cousins would stop by, and we’d have a big family breakfast. It was magical. Back in the 90s, things were a tad hectic in my neighborhood, but inside our house, we were always happy. There was nothing like it.
Q: Favorite book of all time and why?
EG: The “Fear of Flying” by Erica Jong. I actually own a first edition. It’s such a gem and a coming of age novel. The book’s protagonist – Issadora Zelda White was nearly 30, but still awaiting true self-actualization. It’s a feminist read in many senses, as it sort of says… hey… you can want more in life than just marriage or kids. You can have dreams, you can be selectively selfish, and it’s fine.
Q: Describe your life in one word?
EG: Lucky. Everyday I say to myself how? Why? Am I really this fortunate? How many people can say they actually and truly lived their childhood dreams. Sure, there were bumps in the road, but those bumps were still amazing. I pinch myself everyday and say…did I really do that?
Q: Fill in the blank: No matter what happens in my career and in my life, I know one thing for sure. I will never again __________________________________.
EG:I’ll never again let anyone make feel less than who I am. Letting someone define your self-worth is ghastly. It happens; as humans we seek constant approval. But I can’t allow someone to make me question myself. I am me. Only God and maybe my parents can judge me, ha! If you allow the outside world to tell you who you are, you’ll never understand what you are to become.
– by Ericka N. Goodman as told to Ericka N. Goodman
As a young child, I was partial to tutus, sequin, bedazzled moments, and anything embellished. However, my affinity for ostentatious wears had nothing to with seeking attention. Each gold paillette made me beam, representing the joy inside of me. That sense of innocence, of confidence, was purely self-determined.
My wardrobe often served as a litmus test of growth. Around 12 or 13 years old, my then 5’2, barely 100-pounds frame swam in XL large logo-ed t-shirts and bright baggy jeans. I was scared of womanhood and wanted to hide the signs of it. I felt the sudden awkward change, and hoped masking it would allow me to hold on to my youth. The over-sized gear was a rebellion against my own body.
In my late teens, I was succumb by young love, my first taste of it, and wanted my style aesthetic to prove our union. I opted for matching sneakers and preppy cardigans that he favored. I wanted to be his ideal girl, which, unbeknownst to me, I already was. I didn’t need to dress the part. Attempts to validate the relationship through coordinated fashion made me confused and resentful.
Post High School graduation I went minimal, stripping myself of my previous identity, creating a new me. I opted for loose linens, muted colors, and monochromatic looks. Yet, I wasn’t ready to define myself as an adult woman standing on her own. I vacillated between my former self, which I sought comfort in. I was a pro at the “urban prep” look that I had mimicked and cultivated.
Subsequently, I morphed into the college girl, who was partial to fitted body suits in dark colors and wedge heels. Not feeling quite comfortable in this realm, I’d go with what was easy, and what would allow me to blend in and assimilate in a then foreign world.
After college, I was sucked into New York City’s glossy magazine circles. Women my age were flanked in fashion week’s finest… fresh off the runway. I was in my “keep up with the Joneses” phase. I exhausted myself by taking on multiple jobs so I could afford a lifestyle I assumed I should have. I purchased shoes that cost more than my rent. I worked so much that I didn’t have the time to decide whether I even liked these expensive items. I wanted to protect my place in this world and thought my footwear was a signifier. As if, saying: “I belong, I’m not an outsider.” But, just being myself, was always enough. And yes, those that know me might say I’m still a sucker for a good heel, but I’v learned to choose a bit more wisely.
I can now say I have a strong sense of who I am. I’m not just a woman with pretty shoes or a trendy job title; I am a wife, daughter, friend, and lastly established editor. I’ve reverted back to four-year-old me in respect to my personal style. I am comfortable and confident in all I do and wear. I don’t doubt myself. I never just want to belong, for the sake of being part of the in-crowd. As I’m in a league of my own. If I’m partial to a contrasting glitter frock and sparkly thigh-high boots at that moment, it’s my business. It will never take away from who I am or what I’ve accomplished. But I’m thankful for the many mornings of multiple outfit changes, and exhausted credit cards – it taught me a lesson. It’s not the reflection in the mirror that counts, but rather your perception of yourself. There’s no need to hide or be defined by the costumes you put on every day. Remember, you’re not an actor, so be comfortable in your skin and all the things that cover it.
My hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, affectionately known by locals as the “Elm City” has ultimately defined my personal style and who I am as a person. You see, my fair city and I share many of the same traits. We can both be described as: preppy, eclectic, flamboyant and urban… all at the same time. It’s who I am, who we are. However beyond the surface, my city and I both hold a spirit of perseverance, diligence, love, creativity, and community. I’m proud to be from New Haven. Focus squarely on our exteriors alone, you’d likely approach with apprehension; yet, dig deeper and you’ll see our beauty and all it has to offer.
I promise, you’ll fall in love.
New Haven is a hodgepodge of race, ethnicity, creed, grit, and aspirations. It rests beside the Long Island Sound, the gilded halls of Yale University, and the majestic Elm trees that line the city. Once a manufacturing powerhouse, the cotton gin invented by Eli Whitney led the Industrial Revolution and brought New Haven to prosperity. Later the Winchester Repeating Arms factory and Pratt & Whitney plant helped provide upward mobility for families looking for a better life.
New Haven represented independence. It was the American Dream. Then its infrastructure began to crumble, and the industrial well dried up, locals turned to alternative and often times illegal sources of income. Our neighborhoods became “hoods” rather than communities. This was the late 1980’s through early-to-mid 90’s; my most formative years. I felt the change, I cried, I fought it, I admired its risky cache. But I knew it wasn’t me and it wasn’t New Haven. We were both too good for this behavior.
Rooted in sweat, tears and struggle, we are a city of survivors. And now I no longer see a city in distress, in need of repair….I see hope. I see empowerment. I see dreams. I see the future. I see entrepreneurship. I see creative growth. I see change. So this blog is dedicated to the designers, artists and proactive thinkers that have come out of my dear elm city.
New York City may be where I currently reside, but New Haven will always be home. And will forever be my endless love.
Give me your style-deprived, your unfashionable, your huddled masses yearning to be fierce.
We the people of the world of fashion, in order to form a more perfect and more stylish domain, establish justice and access to respective wears and fashionable associations, insure tranquility amongst the trend-obsessed masses, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare of our respective muses, and secure the Blessings of Anna Wintour to ourselves and our posterity. Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the ultimate democracy of all things style.
I was once gripped by thought of being forced out of the style world like many of my fellow primative print editors. Let’s face it; bloggers of the respective moment and hot young things sashaying all over Instagram (with their ironic hashtags) now run this once exclusive community. So as a slightly dramatic paper and ink writer, I deemed myself obsolete and wallowed in a glittery pool of self-pity. I became disenfranchised and felt like there was no longer a seat for me at the “cool” table. I thought my time was up and, to which I was being replaced by whoever has the most social media followers. But then it dawned on me, why curse the party before joining it? Don’t un-invite yourself before the save-the-dates go out!
So for my first blog post, I just wanted to say I’m attending this epic féte and we are all on the VIP list!