| Family Diary |

Off the Rack: Chapter 8 

There was no real reason to delay my dream — except for the belief that I shouldn’t be doing it alone


I walked into the wedding wearing one of my own creations, a black, layered D-RAMA dress.

“Mazel tov,” I kept repeating as I squeezed through the crowd to where the kallah was greeting well-wishers. I stole a glance at my watch. I was hosting a pop-up shop the next day and a long night of preparation still stretched ahead of me.

I finally found the kallah. “Mazel tov, Daniella!”

She pulled me in for a hug. “Im yirtzeh Hashem by you,” she wished me with a bright smile.

“Thank you — and amen.” As I pulled away, I noticed the sparkle on her wrist. It was a white-gold Rolex with a mother-of-pearl face and diamond set-in dial. I recognized the watch because it was the same one I had wanted.

One day, when you’re engaged, you’ll get a watch too, I consoled myself as I left the hall.

Then I stopped. Why wait?

Growing up, I always knew the proper order to life. High school. Seminary. Marriage. Then life begins. In the years I’ve spent dating, I often lament the system. “You’re not anybody until you’re with a somebody” — and only then you can start thinking big.

It’s part of why I didn’t start D-RAMA earlier. How could I think big when I wasn’t even married? How could I have dreams if I didn’t have a husband to support them?

Until I looked around one day and realized there was no real reason to delay my dream — except for the belief that I shouldn’t be doing it alone.

D-RAMA only took off once I finally accepted that life doesn’t have to happen in a picture-perfect order. Even though I wasn’t yet a wife or mother, I could see my sense of purpose. Even though I didn’t have a home for a family of my own, there could be a place for me in this community. And even though I wasn’t married, I could own an expensive watch.

The next day, after the pop-up shop, I texted my jeweler. “Can I come look at your watch collection?”

Within the week, I had my own Rolex. It was the biggest single purchase I’ve ever made, but I didn’t regret a single penny.

When I showed the watch to my family members, some of them were concerned about my independence. “What will your chassan’s family get you if you already have a watch?”

I wasn’t worried. When the day comes, G-d willing, if my in-laws want to buy me a watch, I’ll be thrilled. I’m sure I’ll love the piece because it will be the one I received as a bride. But I can also love this watch — the one I worked hard to earn, the gift I bought myself.

Just that week, I’d chatted with a married friend. After our “Hi, how are yous,” she unburdened herself — and I listened to her echo many of my thoughts.

“I’m so bored at my job,” she confided. “But I need to stick to it if we want to save up for a down payment. I feel like I’m choking in this apartment.”

I used to think that once your husband swooped in to rescue you, you’d fly into the sunset and life would be a “happily ever after.” Yet my married friends were dealing with the same challenges I woke up to every morning. Yes, my married friends were, well, married, but that didn’t mean life was all sunshine.

I hung up the phone and realized: No one was going to hand me my future — but I could create it. I don’t need to wait for a husband to determine my success. I could take charge of my own life and make my own dreams come true — even if I didn’t have the protection of a marriage to support me.

I thought about my empty ring finger and the scale in my bathroom. If I measured success by my weight or marital status, I would be a failure. But I knew I wasn’t a failure — I had built a business from the ground up. I had a new measure of success now: how strongly I believed in myself. Knowing that I was giving my customers a new sense of their own beauty while learning to love myself at whichever weight I was holding.

When I bought myself the watch, I added a new definition to the list. Success is trusting I’m strong enough to make my dreams come true.

Even if, for now, I’m doing it alone.

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 767)

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