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Aha Moments

2 months ago by

Those big moments of Truth (Truth with a capital T) don’t only happen at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro or deep in India or Bali (remember, I tried all that).

Nope. Sometimes, a good old dinner, a weird encounter, and boom! You finally get something you hadn’t ever gotten before, even after twenty years of therapy.

So here you go – here are three big moments of Truth (what Oprah calls an “aha moment” or an epiphany) that happened to me at completely unexpected times.

The best of dinners.

This dinner had everything it needed to be as impressive as possible. Organized by a brand that will never invite me again if I say their name (actually, it’s mostly because I don’t remember), the dinner took place in New York.

And it really takes a lot to impress New Yorkers, let me tell you.

So, there we all were at the top of the thousandth floor of a building that was so new, it was still under construction. We were the first of the first to go there.

The room was beautiful and spacious, with an unobstructed 360-degree view of the city. You could hear people oohing and aahing every time the elevator doors opened.

Since I’ve never been very into getting ready for parties, I probably tried to fit my long legs and athletic shoulders into a size zero dress with absolutely no chance of it looking good on me.

And you know what? I probably wasn’t the only one.

Maybe that’s why the energy coming from the room was overflowing with a terrible feeling of insecurity.

I heard photographers getting excited. Rihanna was there. I don’t remember who else was there. Bradley Cooper? Or was that another dinner? Anyway, I sit down and Sophie Auster was sitting next to me at the table. We chat and chat and chat, the entrée arrives, we try to chat some more, our neighbors are so boring we get close to falling asleep at the table, and BLAM – at one point I’m so profoundly bored, I sigh:

“Well, this is quite lame, but we can’t complain, we’re lucky to be here, right?”

And Sophie turns to me and says:

“We can totally complain! This is the most boring dinner ever!!!”

So, moment of Truth right there, kids, I swear it was pretty profound for me. We have the right to complain. And even to get out of there if we want to.

You can have all the luxury in the world and all the dumb fashion in the world and all the proximity with all the Rihannas in the world and sometimes that’s still not enough to create an inspiring atmosphere.

The full upscale package – with the most expensive things, or the most famous people, is sometimes not only boring but it also just feels desperate. And yes, we do have the right to complain.

For me, that’s something that took a long time to understand. I felt like I’d reached the top – and deep down I felt like I’d come out of nowhere, like maybe I didn’t deserve it, etc. – and thanks to this moment (and thanks to someone who probably knew the ins and outs of that prideful milieu better than I did), I finally was able to admit that “the top” wasn’t so great after all. And I honestly found it pretty boring.

Kanye was right.

I met Kanye a very long time ago at a fashion show. He was nice, sweet, and humble. He would say hello, and if he came with friends, he’d do everything he could not to play up his stardom. He was really, honestly interested in other people. And sometimes I still run into him in LA.

[I also think the guy has done lots of good things and now someone responsible needs to take care of his mental health because he’s starting to crumble right before our eyes and the spectacle is too sad and too juicy for the press, so it seems like nothing will stop him until something truly awful happens. It makes me really sad of course because Donald Trump is benefiting from all of this, but also because I recently watched the documentaries on Avicii and Whitney Houston – fame can be violent and can take people down some very, very dark paths. ANYWAY. That was my point of view on Kanye.]

So one day, we were chatting after a show.

I think I asked Kanye who was sending him to Fashion Weeks. Most celebrities are paid to go to the shows. First class plane tickets, palaces, someone dresses them and they’re paid insane amounts to have their photo taken in the front row.

And Kanye replied – just me, no one is paying me. I pay myself. I send myself to fashion weeks. I’m really interested. I’m not here to make money.

Gah, that resonated with me so much.

It’s common in the fashion world to accept gifts with a mix of recognition and obsequiousness. A lot of people actually live off those gifts. They haven’t bought any of the things they are wearing, they don’t pay for any of the 5-star hotels they come out of, and they’d never have the means to buy their own business class ticket.

But not only do they love benefiting from the gifts, they actually expect them and end up thinking that’s what they’re owed.

They end up thinking they’re rich. I know fashion editors who spend their entire lives going from one press trip to another, basically living their lives by proxy.

I always felt a little bit uncomfortable with this idea when it came to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, because let’s face it: flying business class is a lot nicer than flying coach.

The problem is, of course, once you’ve been spoiled with privileges to the point you forget who you really are – a normal person with a normal salary – it’s like a drug: you’d do absolutely anything to not lose that privilege.

So then you lose all your critical thinking skills. When you’re not the one choosing what’s given to you and all you want are the trappings of a life of privilege (accompanied by the insecurity of knowing that deep down none of that really belongs to you), you end up putting up with anything just so the well doesn’t run dry.

But actually, saying no to extras when they don’t make sense, is not only the height of elegance – it’s also the only way to stay real.

And staying real is the only way to live.

So thank you Kanye, and I hope Kris Jenner will do an intervention. I feel like she’s the only one who has the maternal influence necessary to get us out of this sad show you’re starring in.

The Fun Table and the boring table.

I was at another one of these dinners, alone again, but fortunately it was a few years later. I had matured and I wasn’t quite so insecure. I was wearing my own clothes, simple and comfortable, and I was curious about the party, without having any special expectations.

I had decided not to drink, and to pay attention to what I ate that night. I wanted to go to bed early, go to yoga the next morning, and feel good, basically.

IN SHORT, I WAS COOL, BUT I WAS ALSO ANNOYING.

Sitting next to me was a smiling pot of makeup as thin as a Céline clasp bag. She was probably an influencer, I thought to myself.

And across from me, a nice fashion editor, also as thin as a Céline clasp.

On the other side, but too far away for me to really chat, was another pretty girl.

So I started out talking with the influencer, telling myself it would be interesting, considering (hold on to your seats, guys) our twenty year age difference, to get her perspective on the world. She was nice and sweet.

So I say to her: “Have you seen all the celebrities here?”

She answers: “No, I don’t know any of these people. For me, celebrities are on Instagram. I don’t know anybody in movies or on TV at all. I don’t know anyone here.” (And the place was literally crawling with famous actors and musicians).

Then I say: “So, do you live in LA?”

She answers: “Yeah, I came here to give it a shot (In the influencing business?) But it’s really hard here.

I say: “Well, what do you talk about on your platforms?”

She answers: “Beauty, fashion, and empowerment.”

I say: “Ah, empowerment, that’s interesting. What’s your message?”

She answers (empty eyes, fake eyelashes batting): Um, like I said, empowerment.

Woooow, it’s going to be a long dinner, I say to myself. I try to start a few conversations, but nothing sticks. The conversation ends up on the pros and cons of a vegan diet. In other words, the most boring conversation on the face of the earth.

The first dish arrives and I realize that not only is no one drinking at my table, no one is eating either. The fashion editor is vegan, so she can only eat a few salad greens with no dressing, and as for my influencer (who has 6 million followers, since you wanted to know), she’s vegetarian and doesn’t eat dairy or sugar or – I don’t remember anymore, but basically she doesn’t eat anything except makeup.

Kind of like me that night, I guess.

SO WE ARE OFFICIALLY AT THE MOST BORING TABLE IN THE PARTY – and I’m very much aware of the parallel with my life, thank you very much.

Right next to us, four women are bursting out laughing. The alcohol is flowing, people are gobbling up their food, dessert included, glasses are being raised and so are voices. I’m praying for something to happen so I can switch seats with the influencer who is seated next to one of the fun people (our tables are pushed together) because she keeps disappearing behind her glassy smile whenever they make a dirty joke – and I’m straining as hard as I can to hear what they’re saying.

The girls at the next table are smart, nice, funny, super friendly, and I’d give all the kale in the world to be sitting with them. I realize later I’m in the presence of Tiffany Haddish and her posse – they’re absolutely hilarious and everyone should know them.

In general, I’m the fun table all by myself. When there’s fun to be had, I jump right on it without thinking twice. I drink, I eat, I laugh, I smoke, I talk too loudly and I love life. That’s me. That’s my personality. And even though sometimes I go a little too hard and I regret it, I really don’t recognize myself in the healthy, posed girl that I’m trying (and that I need) to become. But I stuck to my plan.

I appreciated the fun table and burst out laughing at their jokes when I could hear them, but I also understood the boring table and told myself those girls were there for their jobs and they totally had the right to eat and drink (or not eat or drink) whatever they wanted. And to be shy. And to be young and full of make up dreams…

So I got in my car, as clear headed as if it were the morning, since all I’d had was sparkling water. I went off into the warm LA night. I felt good, and clear about my choices.

It’s really nice. To be able to have a few nice moments with the fun table and be okay when you’re sitting at the boring table…

And realize there are times when that’s necessary – there are times when you have to agree to change, and that sometimes, those changes agree with us.

Translated by Andrea Perdue

36 comments

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  • Agh! Accidental Kanye click!
    I have a personal policy of never, ever clicking on anything that mentions Kanye West (or Susan Sarandon, but that’s another story). The attention he gets is clearly bad for him and bad for our nation, and I’m trying to do my part to lower his click rate.

    I mean, that’s not all I’m doing to make our country better – voting, canvassing and donating are also on the list! – but it is one small thing.

    So, if the limelight is killing Kanye (and I think your POV is admirably nuanced and empathetic), maybe don’t name him? This may be one small candle of attention on his name, but it still adds up.

    Your aha moments are, of course, as relevant and insightful as always.
    It’s just… accidental Kanye click! Aaaaagghhh!

  • Rachel C October, 23 2018, 2:10 / Reply

    Just because Kanye is supporting Trump doesn’t mean is having a breakdown…

  • Ettennyls October, 25 2018, 7:22

    Thanks @Rachel C for commenting this. My thoughts precisely.

  • He’s had breakdowns since his mother died and they keep escalating. Don’t downplay what are clearly his struggles with the loss of his mother and the impact that and his fame had on his mental health.

  • Ah you have described lif e in a nut shell. There is always the so-called “it ” group and parties. Sometimes people are fun, sometimes just trying too hard to look like they are having fun. The ones who don’t care and just be themselves are the lucky ones … in on the secret.

    Love your aha moments. I wish I had more of them in my 20’s when I worried about this stuff.

    Thanks for the perspective on Kanye. I tend to dislike all things related to the Kardashians. This makes me feel sorry for him and wish he finds his way.

  • Merci Garance pour cette histoire pleine de sincérité.
    Comme souvent, de plus en plus souvent même ;)

    Il faudrait que tous les jeunes gens qui n’ont d’autres but dans la vie que de “devenir célèbres”, ou “riches”, ou je ne sais quoi, via l’autoroute des réseaux sociaux, sous une apparence trompeuse de facilité, lisent ce genre de témoignages et cogitent un peu sur le sujet. Il est bon d’avoir d’autres buts dans la vie que de vivre en tant qu’invité permanent… de faire ses propres choix, d’aller là où on l’on a envie d’être, de payer ses voyages : ils n’en seront que meilleurs, car le fruit d’une récompense ou d’un rêve accompli grâce à son travail, son talent…
    Et comme tu le dis si bien, vivre ainsi et s’attacher à quelque chose que l’on a pas construit et qui peut s’écrouler à tout moment sans avoir aucune prise sur le château de cartes.

    La vraie vie est ailleurs !

  • Thank you for keeping things so real and so honest in such an unreal and feak world in which we are currently living! Love your post!

  • Lisa Walker October, 23 2018, 4:39 / Reply

    I’ve cooked for the wealthiest, most famous people on this globe and let me tell you, AHA– they are BASIC. Money only affords you opportunity, but not the joy of being alive and really living. That comes from making shit and digging out life’s great stuff.

  • Great comment!

  • This rings true for me. I love the conversation everyone is having and the perspectives they are sharing.

  • Merci Garance pour ce post croquant ! Je me reconnais tellement dans la 3ème histoire, j’essaie moi aussi de me tenir à mes quelques convictions pour ma santé mentale (moins de sorties etc), parfois dur d’être à la boring table, mais le lendemain on est fière de nous les fesses en l’air en chien tête en bas (sans avoir avoir la nausée haha ;)… Jusqu’à la prochaine ! Et ce ne sera pas grave non plus.

    J’aime l’évolution du blog, suivre ton évolution en fin de compte ! 10 ans de lecture cette année :)

    xx
    Sissi

  • AHA! cet article est un AHA moment pour moi …. surtout la troisieme histoire et ta dernière phrase …. pile poile au bon moment !

  • Garance, anyone lucky enough to sit next to you is….lucky enough! I would really enjoy an evening listening to your travels, ideas and plans. And maybe you’d be interested in hearing mine.
    Your website is so wonderful.
    Thank You.

  • shopgirl October, 24 2018, 7:59 / Reply

    “…she doesn’t eat anything except makeup..” A, ha, ha, good one!

  • Caroline October, 24 2018, 9:32 / Reply

    J’aime bien les deux premiers moments, mais je ne suis pas sûre d’avoir compris le dernier – tant qu’à être à un dîner, ne vaut-il mieux pas s’amuser, qu’on boive de l’alcool ou non? Ce n’est pas parce qu’on n’est pas ivre ou pompette qu’on doit parler avec des gens ennuyeux qui n’ont rien à dire…

  • Nice piece…
    Coming back to Kanye for an un-accidental klick…
    Therese, Kanye is not related to the Kardashians, I would rather say that the Kardashians are related to Kanye. :D This is my perspective at least.
    I don’t care too much about what he has been doing outside music, even if I understand very well that the creativity and professionalism he shows in music also shows elsewhere, for ex in fashion.
    But he has been, and still is, one of the most brilliant musician and rap artist in the US, and perhaps in the world. I will never thank my son enough to insist on me listening to KW.

    KW is daring, he takes risks, sometimes he is mainstream but most of the time he is nowhere you wait for him. A great guy you probably remember talks much better than me about Kanye West:
    https://www.talkhouse.com/lou-reed-of-the-velvet-underground-talks-kanye-wests-yeezus/

    Besides, K.W. plays such an important role in american hiphop, rap, psychedelic/alternative rap or mainstream rap by working others, making space for them, creating with others, or “just” producing their work.
    Just one example: take Kid Cudi, already brilliant on his own, but when they have worked together it’s just pure magic, like their last masterpiece LP “Kids see ghosts”, from last June.
    People in the music industry need him badly, at least still for a little while, and then there will be other daring, new little Kanye West growing up to take his place and be musical role models.
    You know, I am french, and the quality of french or european rap is, in comparison to what is made in the US, so poor, so so poor. I tried my best to like them, but I can’t, it’s mostly super boring. Kanye is a huge part of what makes american music great again. (no bad joke here)

    Now, he has chosen the worst horse in the political game, that’s an obvious problem, and that makes people either angry or very sad, or both. I don’t judge his mental health, maybe he is not twisted at all in his head and really sincere, I am uncomfortable with our need to find excuses to his behavior. I am afraid there is just no excuse.
    But actually, what he told you Garance about paying his own trips to the fashion show, this is the same thing, it is all about being totally free, even if this freedom is pushed to the limits to support the wrong person.
    But in any case, we should not forget what Kanye gave to the world. And that’s not only sneakers and kardashian babies (although they are probably very cute).

  • I’ll never forget what Kanye has added to our culture, and if I could somehow bathe Now Kanye’s brain in warm tub of the self-awareness, humility and grace of Then Kanye on, say, “Hey Mama” or “Jesus Walks,” I would.
    But I don’t think ignoring Every. Little. Thing. he does right now disrespects his history, since Now Kanye doesn’t show those qualities. As for whether we need him now… the crown of conscious hip hop has long been snatched by Kendrick, Donald Glover/Childish Gambino and the impressive self-resurrections of Tribe, among others.
    So, naaaaaaaah. I’ll continue to Never Click on KW.
    Agree to disagree.

  • A great read. Where very often we get swept up in the glamour of the photos we see, the IG stories we follow, the envious captions to complement the beauty in the visuals, it’s so refreshing to hear about BTS. Thanks for being so honest about how the appeal from the audience’s point of view can be just as equally isolating for the one’s we “envy”. In any situation.

    Gosh i’ve loved your comeback of posts Garance!

  • Super article, Merci Garance. Je suis en train d’expérimenter tout ce que tu décris, partir ou rester, être reconnaissant parce qu’on bosse dans un milieu de rêve qui n’est finalement pas si bien que ça, donc se demander si on doit se plaindre ou se taire parce qu’un tas de fille voudrait être à notre place et se rendre compte que notre place et pas si bien que ça. Etre entouré de gens malheureux qui reste pour la même stupide raison “on ne peut pas rêver mieux mon poste brille aux yeux des autres, mon bonheur compte peut ce qui compte c’est être dans les clous et briller”. C’est dur je trouve de trouver le juste milieu entre évoluer et écouter la personne qu’on est au fond de nous-même. Mais je crois que le but de toutes ces expériences, c’est de s’affirmer. je me rappellerais toujours cette phrase de toi ou de Scott, il faut créer sa propre définition de la réussite, pour moi c’est être entouré de gens bien, être heureuse, rire, ne pas me prendre la tête sur mon poids, porter des habits dans lesquelles je me sens à l’aise et styler, faire du sport juste pour me sentir bien et pas juste pour ressembler à quelqu’un que je ne suis pas (“le corps au régime ment” un dessin de Mistic sur de Charonne) j’ai juste envie de prendre soin de moi en connaissant la limite entre prendre soin de moi et développer un trouble du comportement alimentaire. En tout cas c’est top que tu t’exprimes sur ton expérience dans un monde de la mode (tout n’est pas comme ça).

  • Et l’illustration est super.

  • Est-ce que tu écris en anglais maintenant, et fais traduire ? J’ai un peu l’impression de lire un truc en VF alors que j’adooooore ton style :’-(

  • Hi Jess! Garance writes in both English and French, depending on the context. For this post she did write it in French and it was translated to English. xV

  • Harriet Forde October, 28 2018, 7:26 / Reply

    Fabulous article and comments….link is broken so I guess I wont get my Kanye moment!

    I’m not sure how its possible to remain sane when putting yourself in the sort of limelight that Kanye et all have created around themselves.

  • Great article! I disagree with the “right to complain “ though-it’s so unproductive! What does complaining achieve? If you’re uncomfortable or don’t like something, change it! You always have a choice, like you could have left that party. On the other hand, your last story here is uplifting-you have clear goals and you stuck to them and you were proud for doing so. At that last party, instead of complaining, you chose to wear your own, comfortable clothes, you chose to get near the fun table and enjoy yourself. There is an evolution between these stories and I think it’s wonderful-we always have the choice to make the best of something, keep happy and positive, stick to our long term goals so that we can achieve more of what we really want in life.

  • Anne-Louise October, 28 2018, 8:32 / Reply

    Love love love! ?
    Perfect Sunday reading, from someone who has tried several times to make the perfect circumstances to get an AHA moment herself ?

  • You have no right to comment on someone’s mental health.

  • I saw Kanye West circa 2013 in a music festival. He was the last artist to come on stage. I was amazed at how the huge crowd seemed to know every single one of his lyrics. The atmosphere became electric, a truly spectacular moment.
    Then the following day I read an article in newspaper that declared he had been booed of stage.
    I understood that day that the press doesn’t like Kanye, no matter what he does.
    Right now in his life, he needs help, and to reconnect with his true self.
    And the press does not help with that.
    No one, believes he truly supports Trump. Certainly not the black community (that I am part of), nor his fans.

  • florence October, 28 2018, 8:35 / Reply

    Love your honesty Garance! So refreshing and reminds me of some advice my friend’s mom gave us in our teens… told us she married the ‘cool’ guy and that he turned out to be so boring! (Luckily, I ended up marrying a ‘funny’ guy who keeps me laughing.) Glad that there’s nothing to FOMO about.

  • The BEST EVER blog you ever wrote. Absolutely, painfully truthful and authentic. Thank you.

  • Linda Sansores October, 31 2018, 11:07 / Reply

    Please, please write more, Garance :)

    You are an inspiration! I love to read your perspective on things and life.

    ?

  • Chère Garance,
    Cet article ou post m’a touché. C’est juste et drôle et la question est si actuelle pour moi aussi, ça résonne , oui. Je pense souvent à toi , ça fait des années que je lis ton blog régulièrement, tu fais partie des mes copines imaginaires, je l’impression de te connaître un peu plus ou c’est juste mes projections, pas d’importance. J’étais tres touchée et affectée par ton post ou tu parlais de ta dépression. Je pense à toi , car j’ai eu peur pour toi, sincèrement. T’es quelqu’un qui m’accompagne depuis un bon moment. Je n’ai pas bcp de copines , je vis un peu en retrait et je rêve d’avoir une amie comme toi très souvent . Drôle, intelligente, talentueuse et qui a du chien quoi! Prends soin de toi, reste une bonne amie qui t’es, je pense pour bcp des femmes, je ne suis pas la seule , je suis certaine. Je t’embrasse très fort et « présente mes meilleures salutations de pays de gens polis et discrets ( j’ai adoré ce post sur la cure en Suisse , haha et aéroport de Genève et toi en tenue bizarre :)). Love
    Anna

  • The contrasts between the tables made sense. Yes. I think sometimes we need to be disciplined and others we let go or at least allow oneself to relax. Having the ability to be one one side or in the middle etc is a strength and worthwhile celebrating. Thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you for commenting on the person and his current needs. So nice to read something useful and not judge mental. I too hope someone is in his camp to intervene in regards to his health, it’s serious.

  • Le chemin est plus intéressant que le but. Le but te met en mouvement, te fait rencontrer des tas de gens qui sont à des points différents de leur chemin, c’est ça qui est intéressant. Les livres aussi t’offrent la terre entière !

  • keep reaching Garance. You are the next generations Oprah.

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