Welcome readers! My name is Erika Santoro, I am 25 years of age, residing on the east side of the United States. I created The Fictionista as a way to be my unconditional self–almost like a pen name. What exactly is a Fictionista? It’s simple really, I have a burning passion and a deep love for all things fictionional and fashionable, hence the collaboration.
Let’s talk books first. These beautiful little worlds have always been an escape for me since I could grasp the concept. Leaving your world for a period of time to indugle in a steamy romance or live in a castle surrounded by dragons? I don’t know about you, but I’ll take it ten times out of ten! I always think back to when I first experienced writing short stories–the second grade. The act of creating a whole world from your imagination was absolutely remarkable to me, I couldn’t stop writing. I found myself at home with a composition notebook constantly looking to write more and more stories. One in particular which I’ve always remembered titled; The Substitute Teacher. It was my game changer.
As I got older I was introduced to more reading. Every summer my sisters and I spent each and every day at my grandparents house. One of my most near and dear memories from those summers are the weekly trips to the library. The amount of reading I completed during the summer was admirable. Wether I read quietly to myself, or pretended to read to classroom full of children. I would put on my grandparents reading glasses and I would do the damned thing.
By the time I reached the fourth grade, I started reading books like Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. From there my love for books bloomed enourmously. Throughout the years, I continued to devour books such as; Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, Holes by Louis Sachar, and anything by Roald Dahl (duh!).
When I arrived at high school, mysteries and romances were the genre to take over. I sought out James Patterson books and one by one consumed The Women’s Murder Club series. With that, stories like The Notebook and A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks. Aside from my own reads, during class we read books like, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. The world of books for me kept on expanding while my mind kept absorbing the knowledge.
When college rolled around I had put reading on the back burner, which was a mistake. The partying and average college kid shenanigans took over. I began to suffer with severe anxiety, depression and crippling fear. After trying to find different outlets to channel peace for about a year, I turned back to books. I felt the anxiousness dissipate and I was at home once again.
I now on average, read about 50 books a year and have noticed significant change in my mental health. Whenever I feel the need to escape from the real world, personal problems or stresses, I know the first place to go. Books!
Time to talk fashion. I started my fashion life as a straight up tomboy. I loved it. Live and play comfortably was my motto. No dresses, no stockings, no shoes that clip-clapped across the floor like a horse. This lasted through my elementary school years.
While maturing I realized I wanted to be seen and what better way than with clothing? I followed the ordinary fashion trends while sometimes stepping outside my comfort zone and testing the waters. The results weren’t always the best. After fully recovering from bully remarks, I would simply try again.
In high school I remember a lot of the older girls wearing such cute clothing. Where did they find this? How could they afford it? How are they even comfortable to be so different looking? It was honestly so inspiriting, I started to step out of that comfort zone more and more.
My mother has always been a fashion icon in my eyes. From the clothes, to the massive amount of shoes, to the unique jewelry hanging from her neck, wrists or ears–I simply wanted to be like her. My momma has been my shopping companion for as long as I can remember. “What are you doing when you get out of work? Want to go shopping?” Famous lines spoken by the both of us. Still nothing has changed.
My love for fashion grew immensely when I stopped caring what everyone would think about me. Learning to embrace my taste and who I wanted to be as a fashionista was one of the hardest inner battles to overcome. The more I pushed myself, the more embarrassed i was… until one day I just wasn’t anymore. I now dress fear free from thoughts and judgements of others. I’m back in elementary school, even if just figuratively–I’m the most comfortable I’ve ever been.
Be who you are, wear what you want, read what you want.
And never apologize for it!