How Humans of New York and Obama changed our outlook.
Not too long ago this year, HONY (Humans of New York) had the chance to have a sit down with President Obama. For the #veryrare handful of you guys who aren’t familiar with their work, Brandon the founder of HONY runs and operates a photo blog where he talks and takes pictures of local New Yorkers on the streets. The beauty of what HONY does however, is in getting those people to really open up and share their intimate stories with him; a person they just met. Often these stories are extremely personal, leaving the reader with a strong sense of connection to that someone despite having just known a tiny bit of who they are. (Something that never happens in NY otherwise. So when I heard that HONY got to interview President Obama (all politics aside), one of the most powerful men in the world, I undoubtedly, as both a fan of his work and a fellow New Yorker had a “We made it!” moment.
Among the many stories Obama touched on, what really grabbed my attention was when HONY asked Obama:
“When is the time you felt most broken?”. Here’s what he had to say:
“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped … I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself — if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ — then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”
It was the lines in which, in his youth, Obama questions himself as well as his objectives that stuck out most to me. As all of you guys know by now, our current Fall/Winter 2014 collection is similarly tied to this idea. “OVERLOOKED” is an expression of our young confusion and mild frustration in wanting to be heard but not. That’s not to say that we, in turn, are demanding to be seen and heard right at this very moment. Like anything or anyone else, we too would someday like to be respected for the things we do in and for the community that we create. However, OVERLOOKED is a preemptive reaction. A rejection to ever wanting to be looked down on, passed up, and underrated by others. And if we’re being honest here, we did feel as if we felt some of that heat.
Even if only a little, despite only still being in our infancy stage, we felt as if we; STEADY, we’re being slept on and not taken seriously amongst our peers and circles. Almost as if we’re another everyday fad that’s here today but will be gone tomorrow. We found ourselves asking the same questions Obama did, ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’.
Having read HONY’s piece however, we had a change of mind.
In the end it’s not about us personally, the individuals who keep the STEADY ship afloat. It’s about the work; where we’re setting out to go and accomplish. We’re trying to inspire and encourage everyday people like us to do as we are. That is, to pursue whatever it is you aspire for yourself just as we are too via our own passions for clothing, photography, writing, etc. And so if at the end of the day we’re letting our frustrations stop us then we’re straying off course. Hence, as we’re now making the transition out of our “OVERLOOKED” collection we’ve been reminded to not get caught up in taking it personal rather, to keep it about the work. That’s the one way we can move past the looks and the stares. Why? Cause what we wanna do is nowhere close to being done yet and there’s ‘always something to be done’.
*Picture/quote rights reserved to HONY.