“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~Unknown
As I left the San Francisco head office of the clothing company I worked for, I felt anxious and scared. I knew, in the depth of my heart and soul, that I did not belong there and that I needed to do something about it.
Up until a year before then, I had thought I did. But then I met this new friend who was a very spiritual person. He talked to me about things like universal mind, energy, a new era, and the importance of finding your dharma—your true vocation, which starts to be revealed once you start listening to, and following, your deepest inspiration.
It all touched a deep chord in me. Since that day I started following my thread of inspiration and searched and read everything I could find about the psyche, how we are affected by colors and shapes, and about symbols and esoteric teachings. I felt like I already knew all of it, and that I had finally found my way home.
My friends and colleagues didn’t understand the depth of the transformation I was going through. I felt misunderstood and very lonely.
But at the same time I was happier than I had been in a very long time. I felt connected to my true Self. I was truly inspired and felt like I had a special job to do in the world of clothes: I was to find new ways of designing and using clothes, built on feminine principles and a different set of values than those of our modern culture.
As the head designer for the Scandinavian branch of a multinational clothing company I earned quite a lot of money. I also led what many would consider a very glamorous lifestyle, with lots of traveling and meetings with interesting people.
But did it make me happy? Was there room for me to grow and develop in new ways?
No. Absolutely not. As a professional designer it was my job to focus on contemporary clothes, on what our costumers would want the next season. Looking further into the future was not an option.
Every day that went by made it more impossible to stay. I remember telling a friend that I felt like an eagle with my wings clipped at work.
I knew that leaving would be a point of no return that would ruin the career I had put so much energy into. But what else could I do?
My biggest problem was how to support myself. I understood that it would even be difficult for me to have freelance design jobs on the side, since my heart was no longer in it.
All that inspired me about designing clothes were the deeper aspects: Who was the person behind them? Could garments styles and fabric patterns play a role in the development of our consciousness? Was it possible to use design to stimulate the soul?
I had so many questions. But I was absolutely convinced that there was another way to work with clothes that truly honored the body and spirit of the person wearing them. I was determined to find it and just needed to trust what my heart told me.
Was I delusional? It was obvious that many others thought so…
Still, I finally took the step. One day I just knocked on my boss’ door and told him I had decided to quit. He looked almost shocked and asked me what my plans were. When I told him I didn’t really know yet, he bluntly told me that he didn’t believe me. He thought I hid something from him. ”What company bought you over?” he asked.
To him just leaving the whole fashion business at the top of my career was unimaginable.
To tell you that everything was sunshine and roses from that day onward would be a huge exaggeration. Actually, it was often quite the opposite.
When we challenge our personal patterns and step out of our comfort zone, we are often faced with our deepest fears.
I had to face many, and lived through some dark periods when I felt convinced I couldn’t find a new way to work with clothes. And yes, sometimes I questioned my choice.
Maybe I could have made a different one? Maybe I could have compromised a little? But in my heart I knew that it wouldn’t have worked. I’d needed a clean break in order to totally change my perspective.
Even if I missed the big check every month and the whole support system of a clothing company, I have never regretted my decision.
The years went by and I took one baby step at the time. As I reached one level of understanding, I expanded it through speaking and writing about it. I experimented with smaller clothing lines in colors and fabric patterns in the five elements—tools to help people find balance. One step led to another in ways I could not have foreseen.
That’s often what happens when we take a risk: things start to come together in ways we could never have predicted.
Looking back, I realize that the most important thing was that I really followed my heart. I was relentless. As soon as I felt like I had strayed from my vision, I made amends. When I didn’t, circumstances forced me to. Once, when I started selling a clothing line, all my sewing machines and computer were stolen, which made it impossible to continue down the wrong path. It was a blessing in disguise.
My farewell to fashion took place more than two decades ago, and my quest is still the most inspiring thing in my life. It kept (and keeps) evolving. Right now I feel very close to manifesting my alternative to fashion—clothes for body, soul, and spirit—in a bigger way.
If I had not taken that scary step, I would have missed out on so much. I feel proud of myself when I compare who I have become with the person I would have been if I had stayed.
Looking back, it’s surprising how everything took care of itself, even money. In periods, when I needed to just study, I was sometimes deeply indebted.
But there were also times when I made a lot of money so I could pay off my debts. I secured teaching jobs on the side when I needed to just experiment for a while. Had I known that things would work out just fine I wouldn’t have worried so much.
Worry and doubt were probably the most painful (and completely unnecessary) parts.
Life has a way of manifesting what we think about; so one great tool to deal with financial worries is to learn to focus on positive things. Another is to empty your mind and open up to solutions and new ways to earn.
So, if you find yourself in the wrong place, uncertain about whether or not you can find your way to the right one:
And remember: You are unique. Your perspective of the world is equally unique, and it’s important you share it as only you can. The world needs you to follow your deepest inspiration.
Photo by h.koppdelaney
Annika Thomas calls herself a holistic designer and a soul stylist. Through her company, Metamorfos, she offers fabrics, clothes, individual sessions, books about the deeper aspects of colors and surface patterns, and interesting lectures. Her blog at wholethreads.com offers weekly inspiration.
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