It’s fair to say that over the last year or so my life hasn’t exactly played out according to plan. By now I should have a fabulous magazine job and be living the high life in the big smoke. I haven’t. And I’m not. So saying life hasn’t gone according to plan is a bit of an understatement.
You see I didn’t pencil in any time for a medical problem to come along and bulldoze all my plans to oblivion. Life’s kinda sneaky like that. So a broken femur, a metal leg cage and 5 months later I’m back on the quest for magazine stardom. With (hopefully) just over a month to go before I’m released from the cage of doom I’ve been preparing for my freedom by indulging my OCD tendency of making lists.
Now the majority of these things are simple pleasures to most but for the best part of 6 months they have been somewhat of an impossibility for me. Here’s the list:
Most of these things will be easily achievable once I’m free of (what feels like) the ton of metal on my leg. However there is an anomaly on the list. Can you spot it?
It’s something that I know, with a degree of certainty, will not be as easy to achieve as the rest of the things on the list. If we had the time I would ask for answers on a postcard but as we do not I’ll give the answer away:
The pesky point of ‘Look for/Get fabulous job/Live in London.’ Now the act of looking for a job isn’t so difficult thanks to the internet, newspapers etc it’s the getting one that could well be a problem. While I’ve been hold up and homebound with my leg propped up on a pillow I’ve been keeping my eye on the job front. Checking daily the journo job websites and keeping abreast of what’s available. And the answer is not a lot.
I’ve had a lot of thinking time on my hands recently and I have to admit that the uncertainty and competitiveness surrounding my chosen career is just a smidge frightening. Nowadays it’s only once in a blue moon you get an interview, never mind a job so am I worried? You bet your ass I am.
What worries and frustrates me is that while trawling the media websites an obvious catch 22 situation was apparent.
Experience, I know it’s important. I totally get that, but what baffles my brain is that even for unpaid internships/work experience, you know placements that last a couple of weeks, a month or whatever you now need experience to get experience. WHAT?!
Surely the whole point of someone applying for experience placements is that they have none and would like some. But how are you ever going to get experience if you need experience to get it? Shit, I’m confused.
To get your foot in the door of a paid, entry level position such as an intern or assistant you need a lot of know-how under your belt. I know at some point if you want to work in the media industry you’ll have to work for free. I’ve done bits myself. I’d love the opportunity to intern at a magazine for a year to soak it all up and learn the ropes. Hell I’d do it for free if that’s what got me a chance. But wait, what’s that noise? Oh right, its reality knocking on the door.
Please tell me who can afford to live in London (where the majority of these positions are) for a year, living and working full time, on NO WAGE? Despite its importance to your career, you could go ahead and try and pay your rent and bills with ‘experience’ but I doubt it would get you very far. But without this amount of experience how am I ever going to get my start?
More often than not these days, in terms of the creative industries, it comes down to the adage: It’s not what you know, but whom you know.’ I think this is a shame because inevitably talented writers who aren’t BFF’s with the editor will be overlooked.
But despite my chosen career path and its obvious potholes I’m still going to give it a bloody good try. Because I love what I do. I want to write. Maybe it will happen for me, maybe it won’t but in 40 years time when I look back on my life I want to be able to say that I tried.
I recently gave some advice to a friend. She really wants to be a nursery nurse, but due to issues of experience and one bad interview had herself thoroughly put off the idea. I told her to play to her strengths and do something she loved, that life was too short to spend it not living your dreams. That if nursery nursing was what she wanted then she should think balls to the bad interviews and the people that say it can’t be done. Unconventional though that advice may seem the next day she text to say she was going to give it another go. Atta girl!
It’s about time I started to practice what I preach. No doubt about it, it’s going to be difficult but life is not a competition. There is no point to me feeling down because my plans haven’t been hitting the life markers, such as getting a job, moving away from home, living in London etc. This past year those things were taken completely out of my control. But now that I’m on the brink of getting my life back, perhaps I should stop worrying about them not happening and then maybe they may just start to happen on their own. Comparing where I’m at in my life to where my friends are in theirs is also not helpful. My life will happen at it’s own pace. By concentrating on other people’s lives your not living your own.
Don’t be a victim of circumstances, or other people’s negativity. Life doesn’t happen to you, you happen to life. So go out, do your thing and shine your light.
P.s ‘It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.’ – Theodore Roosevelt. Keep that in mind.