“What are you going to do next? Are you going to focus on getting a job in your field? Have you started applying for jobs?” These were just a few of the questions I asked myself and was asked by others after graduating from University.
It’s been six years since I graduated from University with a bachelors degree in Journalism and News Media and four years since I graduated with my masters degree in International Journalism and I can honestly say I’m still asking myself these questions. Even now as a wife and mother of two children under the age of 2, my parents still ask and wonder what I’m doing with my life.
While I watched my course mates transition into the workplace seeming to know exactly what they wanted to do, I dragged my feet and twiddled my thumbs feeling unsure about where and how I would start my career journey. It was as if I was free falling into the world realising quickly that the parachute that is the educational institution which was meant to ease me into the practicality of my career had failed to release. I felt lost and confused and ended up in the retail job spiral for longer than I needed to be.
Now don’t get me wrong. Graduating with my bachelors degree was exciting and a huge relief. I was looking forward to no longer having to go to lectures, write essays and to be done with that god forsaken dissertation. However, by the time I had finished with my masters I was so over it all I didn’t even go to the graduation ceremony. In fact, between my bachelors and masters I felt so directionless I even enrolled myself into a 12 week digital media course which was so practical and hands on that i felt like a fish out of water in that time. It was like cramming everything I really needed to learn during my bachelors into a crash course and I was so overwhelmed. Til this day I wish I had applied myself more and took full advantage of such a great opportunity to transition into a journalistic role sooner by way of networking.
You see, I’ve battled with my shyness as far back as reception in primary school and suppressed my desire to perform, speak up and stand in the spotlight for a long time. Again, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had my moments of being outstanding (notable mentions: being head girl in year 6 and being a youth leader at church and freelancing as a writer in the UK Afrobeats scene, the list could go on) but I’ve always kept my head down and did what was required and gotten by through likability. In this age of black excellence and black girl magic I can’t help but wish I had been more exceptional in school and in every chance I’ve gotten(or it could just be me being too hard on myself).
A lot of what has kept me “lagging behind” has been me trying to find my voice and what sets me apart, especially as a journalist. It has always seemed like everyone else knew their voice and could clearly express what they wanted to say, whereas I have been stuck trying no to sound like the person sitting next to me. Especially as a black British female journalist who doesn’t want to be a news reporter and was heavily influenced to study journalism by the sheer presence of Sir Trevor McDonald on my TV Screen, Oprah Winfrey, Trevor Nelson (I loved The Lick), Vibe Magazine and Sister 2 Sister Magazine (Jamie Foster Brown’s Interviews are second to none). All I’ve ever wanted to do was interview the people I find interesting, pick their brains, find out who they are and how they create, what inspires them and how they overcome adversity. Somehow I’ve always thought that humanising my faves will make me bolder and more confident.
Once again in this black excellence, black girl magic time we are living in, where Twitter, Instagram and YouTube has made so many experts and influencers, it’s not difficult to feel like you’re lagging behind. But what I’ve come to realise in the past couple of years and most especially in this past year, is that it’s never too late to start from where you are. Statistics, reports and surveys are constantly out to get the millennial, while millennials are speaking out and sharing how graduate depression is real and how we’re all just figuring it out as we go along. Even the very people I admire within my field and throughout creative industries are sharing that they too have struggled with fear, anxiety, shyness and depression and are overcoming by living their truth.
I’m learning that the only way to find my voice is to speak from my own experiences and even if my voice is shaking I just need to speak as loud as I can.
I recently shared on Twitter that I wrote down my goals for 2018 a few weeks back and got started on them straight away because, why wait until January 1st. More than anything my goal is to be more transparent and to shamelessly put my voice out into the world louder than I ever have before.
Watch this space.