During elementary school was when it first became obvious I was different. Because of my adult responsibilities such as taking care of a dying mother with cancer- I was socially awkward. I had no clue how to relate to other kids, how to be light and carefree, or how to be youthful.

Whatever expectations I might have had about fitting in once I reached high school, never manifested. While everyone else was super focused on their SAT scores or dates to the prom, my priority was to make money to be able to support myself. I was already living on my own paying New York City rent.

I was constantly pulled into fast circles - and it wasn’t with the kids from my school. I was invited out by club promoters every night of the week. This was the entertainment that for me and other young models or tall, pretty girls that would cost less than the price of a movie ticket.

Although I ran with the party crowd, it came across that I was a good girl who wouldn’t succumb to peer pressure. Although my mother passed at a young age, she instilled important values that I never forgot and still live by.

At 17 yrs old, I had my first invitation to The Hamptons. My so called “friends” would go out and blow money like nothing. I felt seriously poor! I didn’t own one single thing with a designer label and it was definitely obvious. I was struggling just to pay for the cost of the Hampton Jitney - my transportation back and forth. After the bus fare, I was usually left with under $50 in my pocket to cover me for the entire weekend!  It became clear I wasn’t of the same social pedigree, but believed I had all the potential to become a success and have a nice bank account someday. Although I knew that when that day came, material possessions and social status wouldn’t hold so much importance.

After that summer I dropped out of the Chi-Chi world for a bit. To add balance to my life, I started practicing yoga and changed my environment. It was like a breath of fresh air. Not just because it was healthy, but because it wasn’t superficial. Yoga is meant to be the opposite of Ego - exactly what I had been surrounded by in every direction. Class was the one place I could go without the need to pretend or impress anyone, (I could roll out of bed in my pajamas to practice if I felt like it) and no one would say a thing. At that time, yoga also hadn’t gained the popularity like it has today. Back then, it was attracting a certain kind of person that was drawn to improving themselves spiritually rather than being a fad. There wasn’t any emphasis on who you knew, what you did for a living, or what you were wearing - very different from the current LuLu Lemon culture of matching shorts and top, fancy yoga bag, and a tote for your Chihuahua. Still, if this gets the mainstream to be excited about lifting their consciousness then I’m all for it. Hopefully the lessons of spirituality that are being taught in class are still recognized as more important than just “looking cool” and being trendy.

It’s easy to follow the crowd, but sometimes better to beat to your own drum. It took a long time to become comfortable in my own skin and not try to fit where I don’t belong. There’s a disease that many people we all know are plagued with called “FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out.” You know what? If you’re happy with yourself, you’re not missing anything!