Welcome to This Is Me Thursdays! To read other posts in this series, click here. If you want to be involved, please email me for more details! Today, learn more about Alexandra Martin, someone I used to work with at one of my last jobs!
I met Alexandra a year or so ago at work, and I’m so glad we connected! She’s so kind, fun, genuine, fashionable, talented curious, funny and just a really good person. I really enjoyed getting to know her both personally and professionally, and it’s so cool to see all of the things she’s doing and accomplishing since we parted ways. She is just such an upbeat, honest and lovely person that I know you’ll relate to, so let’s dive into her answers! Check out what she’s been up to on her website and say hi to her on Instagram.
This Is Me: Alexandra Martin
Share a little about yourself and what you’re up to these days.
I’m Alexandra and I moved to Fargo in 2018 after graduation from Stephens College with a BFA in Fashion Communications. I came here when my then-boyfriend (now husband!) got a job opportunity and we decided to make the leap somewhere new together. We both had never even visited North Dakota before and were excited for the new adventure. Shortly after we moved, I was lucky enough to score a job as Fargo Monthly editor, a perfect gig for me since magazines have always been my desired career path. Now, I am the Editorial Director at Spotlight and it sure keeps me busy. I spend my days interviewing community members, coordinating photoshoots, managing my department, responding to so many emails and writing articles for Fargo Monthly, Design & Living Magazine, and Future Farmer.
Outside of work, I’m planning my wedding, which has been majorly interrupted by COVID. We optimistically moved our June wedding to September to be a small ceremony in Italy, where we had our honeymoon booked, but as Europe has kept its borders closed, we had to move the wedding date AGAIN to 2021. We are having fun planning every detail and having a wedding that I only ever dreamed of. We did go ahead and get legally married quietly with our families, because darn-it we wanted to be married already!
What does life purpose mean to you? Does it really exist for you/all of us, or is it just some pipe dream?
I don’t particularly subscribe to the idea that I have a specific life purpose. That’s not to say that I’m not driven, have goals and aspirations, or keystones I want to achieve, but I can’t think of my life as checking things off a list until I die. I know that I’ll do a few important things. And I also know that most of my life will be a series of unimportant things, and I love that. Anytime I get overwhelmed or overthink what I should or shouldn’t be doing, I remind myself that there are no quotas I have to reach or milestones I need to check off, I just have to carry on doing the things that are significant to me and those around me. How exciting and freeing is it to know that you aren’t as important as you think you are?
What motivates and inspires you in your life?
I am motivated by the idea that there is always room to grow and always more to learn. As someone who is naturally self-deprecating (comparison is the thief of joy..but it is always a struggle for me), I am never 100% satisfied with what I do. I can always be a better friend, partner, coworker, daughter, writer, crocheter, cat-mom, designer, etc. But instead of always feeling like I’m not enough, I like to turn those feelings into fuel to continue learning. Instead of stewing in failure, I fess up to my errors. I give myself grace to grow. Professionally, I love taking LinkedIn learning courses or watching YouTube tutorials or even just reading really good writing to inspire me to think outside the box with my own writing.
I also recently have been allowing myself to dream big, no matter how unlikely. Just today I talked with an admissions counselor at a college about enrolling in a Master’s degree program. I’ve let my thoughts wander when I start thinking about writing a book. I’ve looked at homes for sale in New Mexico because I dream of living there and having a hobby farm on acres of land. While none of these things may ever happen, just the act of not shutting down big dreams immediately has been a big area of growth for me.
Is what you do now what you always imagined doing? Why or why not, and what have you learned because of that?
Yes and no. I always imagined working in magazines. I envisioned myself living in New York, playing out the “Devil Wears Prada” dream where I am Miranda Priestly. I’m obviously working in local media in Fargo now, which is something I never ever imagined would be the case. But I have learned so much and honed my skills even more during this time. It was naive of me to think that I could jump into some big city, fast-paced career without a solid grounding of both professional skills and overall maturity. In these past 2 years, I also have learned that geography isn’t as important as I thought it was and that I don’t need to live in New York or LA or Paris in order to be successful and make an impact in my career.
Additionally, I never imagined myself writing, but now it is a path I want to pursue even more. I always knew I COULD write, but never considered it a strength or viable career path until this last year. I always thought I’d end up in styling, art direction or graphic design, but it’s been exciting having people tell me that my writing is a gift and that I should continue on that path.
What’s something you desperately want other people to know or realize that may help them in their lives?
This might seem trivial or vain, but I’ve long championed that fashion, art and style are not trite topics. Not only is fashion a massive industry, but how we present ourselves is a source of (often) untapped power. What you wear (or don’t wear) gives you the control to tell others how you should be perceived – with just a glance. I find that power thrilling and exciting. In a hot pink lipstick and velvet blazer, I can tell people that I’m bold and fearless and fun. In oversized sweatpants and a ratty tee, I can tell people that I am busy and have other things going on that are more important than laundry. Even the act of purposefully not caring about my outfit is a statement itself. Bill Cunningham said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life,” and I’m a firm believer that the armor you put on every day is what prepares you for how you will face that day.
In following this way of thinking, I wear a lot of fun, out-there pieces of clothing. I always have people say things to me like, “Oh I love that! I could never pull that off though!” or “I wish I could wear something like that!” And the secret is that you can. The moment you put something on your body is the moment you “pull it off.” If you truly don’t care about clothes, that’s fine. But don’t feel like you have to hide behind neutrals or basics just because you feel you don’t know enough about fashion. Another secret: there are no rules. Mix patterns. Wear cheetah print with stripes. Wear two different pairs of earrings. Let your bra show through. Wear heels even if you’re tall. Wear sequins in the daytime. If you like it, wear it!
How do you define belonging and connection, and how have your definitions changed over time?
I really struggle with answering this. Probably because I have never really thought about it. I will admit that I have had a looming feeling of “not belonging” in Fargo-Moorhead. As someone not from here, there is an odd sense of being an outsider who can never live up to being a native. It’s hard to say why I feel this way, considering I have a stable job, a good group of friends, a home and all the resources I really need. But I also don’t feel empty by this feeling. I have fantastic friends from college who are my sisters now and I feel utterly supported by them, my spouse, and my family in all that I do. Which is to say that whatever the definition of “belonging” is, I don’t think it has to do with geography or physical community.
I’ve moved around a lot, which means I’ve never physically established myself. Before I make any mistakes or lead anyone to think poorly of me, I can leave and start new. “Let’s never stop starting” is a lyric from a Sylvan Esso song about dating apps, but I feel like it also applies to myself in other aspects of life. There is something exciting about taking the good parts of you and leaving behind the bad parts and rebuilding myself, Frankensteining winning combinations until all the kinks are gone. I haven’t figured out what it means to “belong” just yet, but I don’t think I’m missing it.
What’s something you make sure to do every day/week/month that helps you practice self-care and self-love?
Getting a good manicure done at the nail salon. I used to think that it was such a “high-maintenance girl” type of thing but now it holds such value to me. In the amount of time I’m in the nail salon chair, I have my phone put away (can’t text with wet nails!) and it serves as almost a meditative time for me to just unwind. Also, I’ve been an anxious person for as long as I can remember and one of my physical manifestations of that anxiety comes in nail/skin picking on my fingers. Having a nice manicure helps keep me from picking my nails, plus having long, glossy nails makes me feel like a bad bitch.
How do you define success in your life and/or business?
Just that I’m happy with those who I surround myself with and that they are happy with me. I feel successful when I make someone laugh. When I help them see themselves in a new, positive way. When someone knows they can come to me for the guidance or support they need. When I am referenced as “a good example.” When someone is proud of me. The way we interact with others and the impacts we have on them all adds up, and I hope the sum of my life will be that I am good to others. I am not my career. I am not my age. I am not my weight. I am not my college transcript. I am not my credit score. I am kind and compassionate, and that is what makes me feel successful.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I got carried away and said quite a lot. That’s enough from me:)
Photo courtesy of Alexandra Martin