On being brave and caring less

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Two things universally understood about working in the world of journalism are:

  1. You’ve got to have thick skin.
  2. You shouldn’t worry about what other people think of you.

I’ve wanted to be a journalist since I was nine years old – when a friend of my Dad’s arranged for me to attend the premiere of Disney’s Lilo and Stitch in Leicester Square on behalf of Blue Peter Magazine. Afterwards I was asked to write a small feature on it, and to this day it’s still my favourite anecdote to tell people when they ask why I’ve chosen the career path that I’m on. Before then I’d always wanted to be an author of fiction, but writing my first magazine piece felt unique and exciting, and I just knew that this was to be my new vocation.

My writing sat on the back-burner for quite some time after that, but I still submitted online pieces here and there for websites that would take them (all for free, of course). When I reached sixth form, our Head of Year decided to launch a student magazine with some of the pupils – I was too nervous to go to the first meeting, but a week later I managed to pull myself together and join their writing team. We produced one or two editions before leaving school for University – where I somehow mustered the courage to start writing for the Student Union’s newspaper. By year three, I had taken on the scary role of Co-Editor in Chief.

While all this experience and work has since proven to be worthwhile, I won’t deny that each step and decision I took still felt absolutely terrifying. If I just shut my eyes and got on with it I knew it would be okay, and so far it has – I only wish I’d made it a little easier for myself.

I know there’s still time to alter the route or turn back if I really want to, but I also know that if I’m going to stick with this journey, things have got to change. I might work in a small office with a lovely, friendly team now, but it might not always be like this in every other job I take on in the future. Some people (not just journalists) can be pretty cut-throat and unafraid of telling you exactly what they think, without a care in the least about what you think about them. What happens when I encounter these types of people? I can’t just spend my entire career crying in a toilet cubicle whenever someone makes a harsh remark about me or my work – I’ll never get anything done, and have a permanent set of panda eyes unless I go without make-up for good.

The fact of the matter is, I just to have to braver, and bear in mind that…

  1. Nobody cares that much, not really. A study from the National Science Foundation claims that people have over 50,000 thoughts per day on average. This means that even if someone thought about you ten times in one day, that’s only 0.02% of their overall daily thoughts. You’re not that important.
  2. You can’t please everybody. If you try to, you’ll end up pleasing no-one. Just don’t bother.
  3. Doing stuff by yourself – going on trips, trying new things – is the best way to build confidence and learn to speak up for yourself.
  4. Overthinking everything will only give you a headache.
  5. Dwelling on negativity will just make you miserable. Not everyone is going to like what you do, and that’s fine, because there are some people who will. Listen to those people, they’ll make you feel like what you’re doing is worth it.

Image source: betanews.com

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