HI, I'M JESSINA NICOLE—BLOGGER, STYLIST, DECOR ADDICT, VEGETARIAN, NATURALIST, ENVIRONMENTALIST, PHILANTHROPIST, AND ALL OF THE ABOVE!
One thing you should know about me is that my mother is, has and always will be my biggest inspiration in life. I didn't really know how much our lives would change when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001. There were days of anger and sadness, when I wondered how and why my mom happened to be the one affected by such a life-altering and time-consuming disease.
When I wasn't helping her do the normal things you and I take for granted, I was going through social withdrawals and boughs of anger. I resisted all social relationships... partly because I was frightened by them and partially because I didn't want to have to choose between friendships or my mom. I retreated to arts and writing, like a true introvert would. I would be so happy to wake up the next morning and put on the outfit I planned out the week before.
It was clubs like S.T.A.N.D. (Students Taking A New Direction) that made high school a bit more bearable. I had always had this knack to care and help others, but becoming a full-time caretaker by the age of nineteen would be too much to bare for even the most eager humanitarians. I got a waitressing job to put myself through community college, but still couldn't let go of my love for fashion and design.
All I could think about was moving to the city and getting away from it all. As bad as it sounds, I wanted freedom. Although Multiple Sclerosis was a big part
of all of our lives, but I didn't want to let it consume me. Before I knew it, I was working a job that I absolutely hated and crying every week to my therapist. I was quickly becoming a statistic and in a constant roller coaster of anxiety and depression. Once I moved to Chicago, I thought everything would change and that it would mean the end of all of my struggles.
Moving away really didn't absolve me of my worries though. I didn't even really start "styling" until my last semester at my dream college. I started to fear that my dreams were far from all realms of possibility. I started a blog, hoping that putting all of my time and effort into it would prove something and serve as some sort of therapy. By this point, I had countless conversations with my family about giving up my dreams and going back home. I was frustrated, thinking I had made so much progress. I could feel my growth, compared to the shy, small town girl I was years before... but my anxiety still controlled me and my life. The pressure to be innovative, connected and experienced was all too much for me. Not to mention that I didn't have the money to create the photo shoots I envisioned putting my name on. I was too scared to network and fall victim to more rejection. I thought: You should do Youtube. No wait, you need to get a waitressing job!
It killed me to think about the humiliation and failure of it all. I ugly cried so hard to the point that I could barely breathe. Amid completing my last semester, my mom's personal life started spiraling out as well. The progression of her M.S. left her bedridden and seeking full-time care. Blogging helped some, but I felt an immense pressure to do and figure out everything. I knew something had to change when I was so stressed out that I began losing my hair.
One day, scrolling through the depths of social media, I ran across a stylist by the name of Ruthie Lindsey. It was her story and it reminded me of my mom's words:
"They're going to wish they had never told you no," my mom said, "When you make it big, they'll regret it." Just like any other struggling artist, this was my ah-ha moment that ignited a fire inside of me to keep going. Even though she knew going for my dreams would mean losing her only child and best friend, my mom still encouraged me to go after what I want. I couldn't let all of that—her sacrifice—go to waste. I had to keep trying for myself and her. I decided to take a page out of my mom and Ruthie's book and look forward to better days, despite all of the hardships.
It's not easy to pull yourself back up after your lowest of lows. The next week after discovering Ruthie's page, I went on to produce one of my favorite photo shoots and a fashion video with Lindsey Higgins and Hope Sayre. It felt good to be behind the camera again—organizing, directing, dreaming and doing. I have felt nothing but waves of inspiration and passion ever since. Each week, I combine my love of styling with blogging to motivate others to value themselves, their communities, and to pursue their own dreams.