(5 minute read)
Welcome to my first blog post!
I want my first blog post to give you a deeper glimpse into who I am, so this post will delve into the birth of Kayla and why the movie Alice in Wonderland means so much to me.
It’s going to get personal, so buckle up.
As a child, my parents spoiled me and showered me with love. However, I am the youngest of two sisters, and my older sisters (like many children) went through rebellious stages. Unfortunately, that impacted the way my parents raised me.
While my sisters had social lives in their pre-teen and teen years, I was more or less confined to the house. I remember my classmates being allowed to go to the movies, the mall, and each other’s parties. Whenever I’d get invited and ask my parents, the answer was almost always either “No” or “Stay home and study/do your homework/clean your room.”
Although I didn’t know it at the time because I hadn’t experienced it, I am naturally a free-spirit. I don’t remember all of the details, but I remember feeling caged and stifled. That wasn’t my only issue in life. I had other struggles I won’t include in this blog post that directly contributed to my “storm” era. But, at the time, this one felt the biggest to me, whether it was or not.
In hindsight, maybe my parents, the wise adults that they are, saw something in me that worried them. Perhaps they sensed my wild nature, and my conservative mother was worried about what I’d do, explore, or end up in if she allowed me out into the world unsupervised. I often say that I feel I would have found my way to this erotic world of Kayla no matter what my life circumstances were because it feels so inherently me. Maybe they sensed that.
I was always intellectual and creative. I’d been writing A+ college papers for my cousin’s friends since I was 13-years old (seriously) and had a writing company. I wrote college papers and application essays, resumes, business proposals, query letters, and more. I was always reading or working on some new creative project that had my mother taking me to Barnes and Nobles or Michaels at least once a month. My parents really tried to nurture my artistic abilities and expression, but only for things that I could do at home or in controlled environments with adults (like ballet, summer soccer classes, and band camp…yes, I went to band camp).
As I got older and the desire for a social life and freedom like my peers became more important to me, I became unhappy. My creativity and inspiration started dwindling. I was painting less and my disposition was darkening. I felt like I’d only experience freedom once I turned 18, which was too far away and too foreign of a feeling for me to look forward to or conceptualize.
You know what happens when water pressure builds. It boils over and eventually explodes.
One cool summer night, I snuck out for the first time. The feeling of freedom, the crisp wind against my skin, and even the thrill of possibly getting caught were all exhilarating. When the sensation of freedom washed over me, something lit up inside me, and I felt alive for the first time in a long time. I knew there was no going back.
I kept sneaking out – sometimes to see friends and sometimes to just walk or sit by myself outside and feel free. But, eventually and inevitably, I started getting caught. My parents were furious, but it’s not like they could really ground me since it’s not like I was ever allowed to go anywhere in the first place.
As I continued sneaking out and exploring new things during those late nights, I started to lose my sense of self. Things were rapidly accelerating as I began experimenting with drugs, spending time with questionable people, skipping classes, and more. My parents were scared and our relationship was fraught. I felt deeply guilty for hurting them, but I attempted to ignore and numb that feeling by continuing hastily down my rocky path.
In all of this “adventure,” I was becoming even less happy than I was before.
ALICE IN WONDERLALND
I’ve loved the movie Alice in Wonderland since I was a child. What can I say –whimsy and adventure have always tickled me. But one day, amid all this teenage family drama, angst, and heightened emotion, I watched the movie and at one specific part I burst out crying.
If you don’t know, the movie follows Alice. Alice is a young girl bored with the mundanities of life. In the middle of her history lesson she sees a white rabbit and just has to follow it to see where it’s going. She’d see it, follow it, and it would disappear. And each time, with each place she followed it to, she ended up in an increasingly odd situation with increasingly odd characters. But, as things sometimes do, they took a turn for the worse and spiraled out of control. Alice sat down, lost and crying, regretting her decisions and kicking herself for pushing it too far.
“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it. That explains the trouble that I’m always in. Be patient is very good advice, but the waiting makes me curious. And I love the change should something strange begin. Well…I went along my merry way and I never stopped to reason.
I should have known there’d be a price to pay someday….Will I ever learn the things I should?”
It’s a beautiful scene, maybe it will move you: Alice in wonderland – Very good advice”
This scene undoubtedly contributed to my epiphany toward the end of 11th grade. Around this time, I was also in the midst of doing research on how to enter this industry.
On a walk to Target on one seemingly insignificant day after school, my entire perception and worldview suddenly changed. Seriously. A wave of clarity washed over me, and everything from that day on was different.
My actions became clear to me, and so did their consequences. The pain I’d been inflicting on my parents hit me harder than ever, but this time it wasn’t so much guilt as a relief that I finally saw a positive path forward.
Just to put into perspective how things had fallen apart by then:
-I’d failed two classes, so I would have to re-take them in my senior year.
One of those classes was gym and the other was ENGLISH, which is actually pretty crazy when you think about it. ME, the teenager who had a successful writing company and had adults getting jobs and A’s based on the resumes and paper’s I wrote them, was failing English because I simply didn’t show up or turn anything in! I just needed you to understand how absolutely absurd that was.
-One of my close friends recently passed away from an overdose
-I was in mandatory weekly therapy as a condition for not being expelled from school
-My relationship with my parents felt irreparable
-I was in an unhappy relationship
Maybe it came from God or Gods, or Angels or the Universe or whatever you believe in. Maybe it was so clear that I wasn’t being my authentic self that I was destined to have that epiphany sooner or later. Maybe it was pure luck. But, one thing is for sure – it was a blessing, and it probably saved my life. If not, it definitely saved my quality of life.
I should live life to the fullest, but that doesn’t mean hurting myself and the people I love. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m happiest when I’m making myself and the people I care about happy, too. I’m huge on indulgence to this day, but only if it’s what you truly desire. My true desire was not to ruin my life and my parent’s lives, but that’s what I was doing. I care deeply about things and people. And I was pushing that all down and living a fast life to avoid slowing down and dealing with my complex inner world and the mess I’d made.
I was lost, but I found my way back to myself, like Alice.
I started doing well in school without even trying very hard. My teachers were shocked, my parents were proud. Senior year, I got all A’s.
I also left that relationship and entered this industry. Yes, I started in high school.
Previously, my parents had realized that keeping me inside wasn’t working, so they tried to compromise by giving me a 10pm curfew. Previously, I’d never made it back for that curfew. But after my epiphany, I started to. Like I said, I entered this industry. So, I’d take a cab from school, check into hotels all over Long Island with my fake ID, and then get home by my 10 pm curfew. I would use my free time at the hotel to write for my writing company clients. My writing company was doing better than ever, and I ended up hiring two stay-at-home moms I found on Craigslist to assist with our growing workload.
I was in heaven. The hotels felt like my little homes and I felt free, and I got so much joy out of both seeing my clients and writing about interesting topics.
I recall this as the first time in my life that I felt truly, authentically, genuinely happy.
For the first time in my life, I saw a bright future ahead of me.
I’m so proud of myself for pursuing this industry despite it not being socially conventional.
I’m so proud of myself for having the courage to live in my truth.
I had no idea just how perfect it would feel or how well-suited I was for it. I’m a natural.
Fun Fact: My alias back then was Zoey. If you’ve ever sent me a Cashapp or Zelle, you know my username is ZWORLD (which stands for “Zoeys World”)
Since I was always at the hotel, I was staying out of trouble, not sneaking out anymore, and just being cared for by my lovely clients. My relationship with my parents was also improving as they saw my behavior and performance in school improving. My parents and I are now incredibly close and eight years later, I told them about this part of my life. While they don’t love it, they do still love me, and my honesty with them brought us even closer.
My life completely transformed. I saved money and moved out of my parent’s house since I was officially 18. I got accepted to college and finished a year early. I finished my Master’s and dissolved my writing company to focus on Kayla full-time, and now my second business in the fashion industry.
So, there you have it. That was a little bit about the birth of Kayla (who started as Zoey) and a small part of how I became who I am today.
Alice in Wonderland exemplifies my entire journey.
The initial boredom, restlessness, and lack of inspiration ——–> to the pursuit of something different ———> to finally finding balance and true happiness.
I relate to Alice in Wonderland differently than I did when I was a teenager, because I’m at a totally different place in my life.
When I think of the white rabbit now, I think of the white rabbit that led Alice to Wonderland- a world of beauty, magic, and self-discovery. The white rabbit was a reflection of her wishes and ultimately led her exactly where she was meant to be and changed her life for the better.
My white rabbit led me here, as Kayla. It led me to my lovely apartment. It led me to burlesque shows, my second business, countless vacations, restaurants galore, and to meeting lovely gentlemen like yourself.
The white rabbit doesn’t only symbolize escape from the mundane and pursuit of desire. It also symbolizes urgency and social convention (in the movie, the white rabbit is in a rush because he’s running late). As humans, we often pursue what we think we’re supposed to want instead of what we really want, and we often hold ourselves hostage to timelines made up by society.
Life is short. And that’s why I believe the only urgency we should feel is the urgency to live a fulfilling life, spend less time suppressing our yearnings, and go after what we want as much as reasonably possible.
If you’re bored, uninspired, or simply seeking something different, I encourage you to tune into your body and feel what it truly desires. And then, give it to yourself. While I’m fully aware that we have obligations (i.e. family and career), it’s important to remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup. We deserve pleasure and happiness. And with a touch of balance, I believe we can have it all.
If the thing you desire is me…well, you know what to do.
Thank you for reading.