By Magdalena Martynowicz – @m4gpie
I never walked for graduation. So I could move to L.A. in the time planned by my supposed agency, I obtained my high school diploma that September, eight months earlier than my class peers. Early summer mornings of rigorous studying, combined with a demanding work schedule, seemed less burdensome than it might have to others. I guess you could say I felt an unspoken, divine promise of purpose from it all. Some deity helped me bounce out of bed every day, knowing that what seemed far-fetched to those in my community was more than attainable through faith and hard work. Work driven by passion is like kindling a flame: with consistent and active attention it will only grow, despite unwavering forces wishing for the light to diminish.
There were many setbacks. I had been promised a contract in L.A. that had no official cancellation. Rather, the agency let me know they had no intentions of signing me by entirely cutting contact. September, I graduated and was prepared to move as planned, but now had nowhere to go. I think failure is a synonym for hope attached with lead weights, causing the feeling to be far heavier and a bit unrecognizable.
My mom describes me as ambitious, with a smile and slight hesitation as though the amount of drive behind my will for achievement is dangerous. For nine months after that first failure, a blissful storm brewed inside me, with rejections and criticisms from multiple other agencies only increasing its intensity. I knew what I wanted, and deep to the very center of my being, I could feel it would happen.
Perseverance. If you rewind five years from today, I’m fourteen and the only one with the blue ribbon in my hair at wrestling practice. When I was younger I had the very false perception that anything beauty or glamour related somehow was affiliated with being weak. If a mascara wand were remotely near my face, I’d swat it out of proximity and shortly after the culprit left the room I’d pick it up and try to figure out how it worked.
I don’t necessarily know what it was that changed me. I was seventeen, practically bare, with gold body paint covering every inch of my body. Greed. I was to convey greed washing over oneself, consuming every part of them that once held moral. The fingertips were left the color of my flesh to show the last bits of humanity before greed had swallowed me whole. Seventeen, unclothed, with an immensely heavy iron chain wrapped around my neck, and I had never felt more comfortable in my life. When people ask for the defining moment that made me realize modeling was what I wanted to do, I can’t necessarily say there was a specific instance; however, it came to me that I hadn’t ever felt more expressive or content with myself than I did in that moment.
It’s been almost exactly two years from that shoot. I never expected to be in Milan, separating e-mails from my agency here and New York in-between castings; but here I am, doing just that. Here in Milan, time moves differently from the chaotic (yet overwhelmingly exact) timeliness of working in New York City. It’s as if Italians choose different measurements of minutes depending on their mood that day. An hour one day may equal sixty minutes, whereas the next day it will be however long my booker decides he needs to drink his midday coffee. There’s this morbid sounding bell that rings at bizarre hours throughout the day, echoing throughout the streets around me, and through the walls of my apartment. I find odd comfort in the sound knowing that there is someone who manages it so that, regardless of the time, the bell will eventually ring at some point in the day. There’s structure in that.
I’ve been asked what I’ve learned from all of this. People look at me, waiting as though there’s one definitive answer. Quite frankly, it’s been the most extensive, elaborate lesson and I have yet to put together the meaning of it all. It’s molded me to remain optimistic, to trust in my friends and family, and most importantly myself when put in situations where the outcome is difficult to see. There’s never an end to anything; every situation leads to another. All the things you’ve ever done are lessons and experiences that contribute to this wonderful novel that is you. I think that’s what I’ve learned: you never stop learning.
Hair: Kristin Forbes – @untamed907hair