When you are 13 your biggest challenge in life is deciding what to wear at the weekend, bickering with ‘friends’, and also finding the time to study for your exams in between all that important drama.
But day dreaming gets you through it and you set your ambitions high. You’ll be driving by 18, finish university at 21, walk into a wonderful job which will open doors, have a designer handbag and be sipping coffee whilst perusing your e-mails at the Pret a Mange near Liverpool Street Station.
However ten years later this all appears to be a fantasy life created by one with a bold imagination. I am that girl and at 13 I imagined a life not too different from Carrie Bradshaw (she has a lot to answer for). But I wasn’t so naive to think I could sustain a glamorous lifestyle on a freelance ‘one column’ lifestyle.
I knew it would be hard work and I was ready for that but I had no idea how draining it would be. Graduating during a time where any job is hard to come by is a challenge but graduating with a degree in a creative field is even worse.
I was once asked in an interview for an internship why I deserved the place and I responded with ‘because I am enthusiastic and I feel it is of highest importance to remain enthusiastic’. Being a natural pessimist, a realist, I must have been feeling oddly optimistic that day. I got the internship though so it’s true optimism does beat pessimism.
Remaining to be enthusiastic and creative though is the biggest challenge of all though – because by your late twenties it becomes personal.
Your life is no longer simply just about getting to your 9am lecture whilst still hungover because of £1 drinks on a Thursday; it’s about setting up fixed rate ISA accounts and paying off the interest free student overdraft before the interest looms near. Holding down a job to pay for rent and Netflix, finding a partner, thinking about marriage and children – before you’re 30. Adult responsibilities sucking the fun out of what used to be used to be your ‘super fun’ life.
Throwing a fleeting goodbye to that short burst of optimism, and reverting back to the brooding corner of pessimism, was the most counter productive thing I could have done. But after spending countless hours applying for hundreds of media jobs I did give up. I threw down my pen and thought ‘what’s the point’.
It was surprisingly easy and probably the best decision for my mental health at the time. There are only so many rejection e-mails one person can read and delete. Sometimes you need to take a break from that for your sanity.
There will be tough days of what essentially a depression, a creative block, a block created by all those rejection e-mails which have became an attack on your creative ability. But you need to keep going. Not necessarily the next day or even the same year but you need to keep it in the back of your mind.
I said that I gave up and maybe a part of me felt like I had. I had given up writing but I never gave up thinking about it or generating ideas to write about.
I was voted ‘most likely to succeed’ at my school prom. I loved nothing more than working myself to the bones and I thrived on the stress of it all.
As a journalism graduate I loved to write but I soon associated my laptop with applying for jobs and therefore writing became a task which filled me with dread. A very example is that I actually started writing this very post a year ago and there has been no new posts on this very blog for almost two years.
As a graduate not working in your chosen field you need to learn to become comfortable in being uncomfortable. Accepting the discomfort you feel means you have gave up the challenge. I say I gave up but at the very core I never. I have never became comfortable enough to just settle.
The fact that you are uncomfortable shows that you have not given up.
I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason; and even though I am not working in a field related to my degree I have stilled learnt a lot in the years since graduation. It was crazy to think I had given up for everything I have learnt is transferable. The reason will come soon enough and when it does it will be wonderful.
But for now; let’s remain optimistic. Maybe one day I will be able to live in NYC and write about men as socks whilst wearing Manolo’s all off the salary of a weekly column.