No taxis were in sight. The clock read 9:02 a.m. I had twenty minutes to get to the Hearst Publications building in order to make it to my interview with the allotted ten minutes early to appear professional. I flew across the country only to be late to the biggest interview of my life.
Standing in the 40-degree weather in a felt cheetah skirt, rice paper thin tights and a sheer white blouse was not my best idea. I looked professional, stylish, and cool. I figured I didn’t want to wear my coat because my blouse would wrinkle and I could hear my mother saying, “They look at everything. You need to be perfect.”
At the age of four, I would always go into my mother’s closet and try on her fake pearls and my dad’s slick leather shoes. I would put on her lipstick and shine the shoes to look perfect. But I always looked like a cute little mess smeared with shoe shine and lipstick that looked more like the Joker than Elizabeth Taylor.
9:15 a.m. and we are sitting on 8th Ave. in traffic. The building was only two blocks away, but I knew I couldn’t run in the too tall of heels inspired by Carrie Bradshaw. We crawled towards the building and my mother began to nervously ramble as she always does when she thinks something is horribly wrong. Perhaps it my calm exterior that made her anxious, or maybe the fact I had forgotten to print a second resume for the interview—a rookie mistake.
At the age of 10, I wore nothing but gym shorts and Limited Too tops. I would come home covered in the leftover dust of a red rubber ball. I was anything but the quintessential girl. I was taller and larger than most of the girls in my third grade class—and I was bigger than most of the boys. I was anything but perfect.
“Do you know what you are going to say to the Cosmopolitan lady? You look nice, but make sure you can walk in those heels.” I think my mother was more nervous than I was.
9:27 a.m. and I am practically running into the most modern skyscraper I have seen. As I walk over to the security desk, there is a sea of women with resumes in tote looking stunning. I couldn’t help but begin to brush my hair with my fingers and feel inadequate next to the blonde with the Chanel bag. This was my competition? And as her eyes scanned my outfit from the bottom up, I could feel myself shrinking. It was apparent she was the perfect one.
At the age of 14, I was forced to wear a Catholic school uniform five days a week. White knee high socks, a checkered plaid skirt, and crisp white button-down were my weekly garb. In my uniform I was able to look like everyone, but I constantly felt myself shrink when I compared myself to the other girls. I was always the one that was far from perfect.
As security called my name, I walked passed the countless women and walked up the escalators. The guard pressed some buttons and left me in an elevator that was made entirely of reflective glass. I was now alone staring at myself as I climbed to the 37th floor. The reflection that looked back at me was anything but perfect.
At the age of 20, I wore head to toe black a massive red-checkered scarf. I roamed the area called Hotel de Ville in Paris, France. As I stopped at a magazine stand only to buy postcards, I noticed all the American magazines being sold. A Cosmopolitan was sitting right next to Vogue, which was what I was really after. The issue was flawless and although I cannot remember who graced the cover of the magazine, she probably looked perfect.
Looking at myself in the elevator, I wish I had picked a different outfit or maybe allowed more time to get ready. I was a cocktail of anxiety, hope, and nerves. But this was the best I was going to get that Friday morning.
The elevator doors chimed open, and I walked onto the floor of Cosmopolitan Magazine not striving for perfection, but hoping my best would be good enough.
Aguilera is a senior international studies major with a writing minor. She studied abroad in Paris and Brazil.