I want to start this blog post with a farewell to a legend the world lost yesterday. I'm sitting here listening to his final album "Blackstar" and you can definitely tell he knew things were coming to an end - it's sad, deep and emotional unlike any of his other music. David Bowie, you roamed free. You were who you wanted to be, dressed the way you wanted and you were one of the first to conjoin music and art together. You weren't only about music, rather an entire movement on how to feel free to be yourself. That's what you call fearless. Rest in Peace.
Chapter 2. How exciting. If you've read the first chapter and are back to read more, I sincerely thank you for being a part of this journey with me. This is an extremely vulnerable process for me, and I'm not one that loves putting details of my life out there; but if it wasn't for this story we wouldn't be here, connected, on this platform right now. So buckle up.
Back to where we were...
2012. Cut up denim shorts, cut up t-shirts, acid wash jeans, Doc Martens. My first tattoo. A few months later my 2nd and 3rd tattoos. Just pure rebellion and my first dose of bitterness towards life struck.
My 3rd apartment at UC Irvine. Rebellion.
I feel like I didn't fit in at UC Irvine. Don't get me wrong. I had a bunch of friends and a great circle of people around me, but everyone was just "nice." There was nothing exciting. On campus, there was an unspoken, but common uniform - UCI sweatshirt, white shirt under (make sure it shows), jeans and Uggs. Hey, I'll admit I was a part of the cult, and it was all about comfort for me - but I felt like we were all robots. I was bored. The music I started listening to got darker (hellloo Nicolas Jaar), and let's just say I developed a certain "edge" that my square circle of friends didn't have. Armenian girls would stare at my tattoos and boyish Doc Martens, but I really didn't give a F. I just wanted to go home and make art with Sharpies and Nala next to me.
Some Sharpie artwork. Nala wanted to have some input in my sketch.
My first tattoo was an anchor on my right wrist. It's for my grandpa, he served in the Navy in Egypt and had a huge anchor tattooed on his bicep. I got it that year because he passed away on Monday, May 7th 2012. I will never forget that day. Big boss AFIFI. He was seriously the boss but never did my sister or I hear the word "no" come out of his mouth. Growing up, my older sister (KAT!) and I were pretty much raised by my grandparents, we spent the most time with them. That's only because both my parents were working their asses off building businesses to send us to a private Armenian school for over 13 years and gave us the most comfortable, worry-less childhood ever. I was a happy kid, and didn't have to worry about a thing - but always appreciated the value of hard work. I saw that it paid off and allowed you to get nice things, go places and always wanted to have that type of life - even as a kid. I remember I would dream about building something. I didn't know what, though.
My grandpa Antoine Afifi and Nala.
Me and My Grandpa.
I started to rebel once I realized life is not all sprinkles and rainbows and that invincible feeling you have as a kid doesn't last forever (Hello life after 21 years old) There were a continuous turn of events that happened in my life in 2012 that got me feeling blue - even on hot, sunny California days. I lost my grandpa, was going through a break-up and not feeling creatively fulfilled with where I was in my life. To top it all off, I had to go into group sessions at the rehab I was interning at, and pretend that I knew exactly what I was doing with a smile on my face.
Though working at the rehab center doesn't apply to what I'm doing now, it taught me how to handle the most anxious, vulnerable situations with people. I was in the first round of interns ever for the facility and there was no "intern system," let alone guidelines in place. It was a group interview, competition was fair and perky. At the end of the interview, I remember the interviewer say "You'll feel like a tennis ball in the ocean, but hang in there!" That was comforting..
I ended up being chosen for the internship. My first day was the Wednesday after for training. I had to sit in on the weekly group sessions because I was going to be running them from now on! Joy. I had to somehow manage to guide people (25-45 year olds),who were considerably older than me in their life when I hadn't even begun my life yet!! How the F were they even gonna take me seriously? I had to chose a theme to discuss every week. The day I'll never forget is when I chose "Fears" as our theme of the day. We each had to put our fears down on an index card, then everyone passed to the right and I, as the group "leader" had to read everyones fears outloud. Though I can't disclose what people wrote on there, but boy did things get serious really quick. By the end of the session, everyone had to talk about their fears. I even talked about mine and it was the fear to never be perfect. Boy am I glad that phase is over. Throughout the next few months at the rehab I did my rounds at the eating disorder facility and my last and final stop was the intensive unit, where I had to spend all day with a schizophrenic, recovering alcoholic. It was an adventure, and boy did she make me laugh (with her).
My point of this story is simply to tie into the consistent phrase in Chapter 1 of everything happening for a reason. Yes, the rehab has nothing to do with e-commerce or business, but I learned how to be tough, stand my ground and be confident in myself in order for people to take me seriously. It's extremely important to put yourself in uncomfortable situations, because we all need to learn how to adapt. When starting your own business, there are so many aspects to think about that being a part-chameleon is no option.
See you next week. xo afiferz