Overcoming Roadblocks to Chase My Dreams With SMA

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by Alyssa Silva |

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For most of my teenage and early adult years, I had big dreams of working in fashion. As a creative person, the behind-the-scenes work always intrigued me the most. I loved the process of concept to creation, the thought that went into the garments, what inspired the designer, and so on.

Unfortunately, there were too many roadblocks in my way.

Living at home was my best option for college, and only one school in my area offered fashion as a major. Unfortunately, the requirements involved hands-on work, such as sketching and sewing, and I didn’t have the physical strength for that.

With one letdown came more doubts. I began to question if I had the stamina to keep up with the physical demands of the fashion industry. What exactly would I do with a fashion degree in my small hometown? My friends at school all had the next four years planned out, and I aimlessly applied to local colleges with a crushed dream.

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I had a much more limited mindset than I do today. When I applied to college, we were right on the cusp of the social media age. I didn’t yet have access to online SMA resources and communities where I could ask questions and receive advice. I was still learning how to advocate for myself. And I was still getting comfortable in my own skin.

Nevertheless, life worked out exactly how it was supposed to. I graduated from a great school with a business degree. I got a job in social media and received the opportunity to write a column for SMA News Today. I was more than content with the trajectory of my life and didn’t look back.

Years later, in July 2020, the dream I’d once chased started to chase me back. In my inbox was an email from the founder of Intimately, an adaptive apparel brand that designs stylish and functional intimates for disabled women. We had briefly connected through social media years earlier and stayed in touch through likes and comments on each other’s posts. On this day, however, she asked me to join the team. Of course I said yes.

To be working in fashion from the comfort of my own home (we all work remotely!) is a dream come true. But to be serving disabled women who struggle to get dressed and find clothes that actually meet their needs, a problem I know all too well, is an honor.

Intimately was started to shake up the fashion industry, revolutionize the way we get dressed, and advocate for disabled folks everywhere. Thanks to some twist of fate, I’ve had the privilege to be a part of it all.

I wish I had a time machine so I could give 17-year-old me a pep talk. I’d start off by telling her there will always be roadblocks in her way. She didn’t sign up for that, but it comes with living with SMA. I’d remind her that while she’d face limitations because of her disease, she’d soon find creative ways to overcome them. I’d tell her to keep an open mind, that maybe the path less traveled isn’t as enticing, but it’s still worth the journey.

Her life wouldn’t look anything like she imagined. But that was only because it was far better than her wildest dreams.

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


Terry avatar


Great article!

Alyssa Silva avatar

Alyssa Silva

Thank you!


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