I’m all about community, apparently.

I have recently been updating my online bio’s (from my website through to my Twitter). This is usually a painstaking experience for me. Queue a barrage of q’s running through my head, like: what do I put? / how much do I write? / am I being authentic?, and so on. It can be quite draining, actually.

I am doing my best to not be so over-the-top crazy/worrisome/perfectionistic (though I still can’t help myself with those slashes), and just put down what spills out, what feels right.

Something strange happened today. I often talk about how much I’m a ‘people person’, how I’ve worked with people in some way since the age of 16, yadda-yadda. And yet… it was only today that I realised, sh*t, community is at the heart of me, what I stand for, who I am. Shiiiiiitake mushrooms. Powerful stuff.

I spoke to a dear friend of mine, Rima, earlier in the day on appear.in (she’s working remotely on a cool programme called Remote Year) and I spoke to her about how much I value community and connection to my core. Then, later this evening, whilst putting together my ‘bio’ to be rolled out across the various online platforms, the word (well, 2 words) “community builder” just sprawled out onto the page. Right there, just like that.

And in that moment, a big “aha”… the people around me have always mattered deeply in my personal life, with Thriva I was trying to create a powerful community, mu current role is pretty much a community one (I’ve even been given the funky title of ‘Community Co-ordinator). Sh*t. Mind. blown.

Before the age of 18, I’d worked with both toddlers + teenagers, and the elderly. Talk about covering all bases. For “work”, my career path to date looks like this: customer service -> sales -> ‘my own thing’ (Thriva) -> community.

Again, the power of articulating things out loud (thanks, Rima), and also writing things down (thanks, new bio).

Today, I realised I’m a community lover and a community builder.

Who knew.

by Jas

✏ Written: Friday 24th August, 2018

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Winging it.

imposter
credit: mohamed_hasan

If you’ve been following my blog, you might be aware that I’m not currently in employment, having taken a career break at the beginning of 2017. I’m certainly glad I did. But that means that I am currently unemployed. Gosh, that brings up all sorts of connotations, and feels difficult just writing that statement down. However, that’s the truth, whether I like it or not.

I haven’t worked for an employer for almost 3 years (you can read about my quitting my job here), and let’s just say the whole ‘work’ thing has been a pain point for a while. I never really knew what I wanted to do, and I’ve often feared that I would never find “it” – or, at least, something I’m content with (I believe that there’s not just one thing that we’re necessarily made to do, but rather a number of things we have the potential to thrive in #multipotentialite).

Back to the title of this post, in the last month I’ve been focusing on a new field – publishing – and have now started to apply for various jobs/placements/schemes (full disclosure: at time of writing, I was looking more at content-/journalist-type roles, before I started exploring the world of publishing). And, boy, do I feel like I’m winging it sometimes. I honestly feel that getting out of the house to go to the gym everyday is keeping me sane, or at least level. The sustained endorphin rush helps with both my mood and confidence, I feel.

Even though I’ve been blogging in various places for almost 3 years (scary), I took a year out last year where it was really for self-care, re-energising, and chilling the f*ck out. Mental health is key. I did, incidentally, continue to blog and build my writing portfolio – just doing what I enjoyed – and, as it turns out, that has turned out to be “useful” now for my CV/profile.

As I have done different things in my life – from when I was a tennis coach during school holidays when I was 16/17, through to tutoring, working in recruitment, doing a Masters, starting an education programme – I have felt like a fraud, an imposter. It feels like a constant sense of re-inventing myself, of wearing a new coat and trying to become this new thing, adopt this new identity. When people ask “what do you do?” after all, they’re really asking “Who are you?”. As well as wanting to know how much you’re making and whether they’re doing better than you, of course (just kidding, but not really – 10-year school re-unions, anyone?!).

In case you haven’t heard of it, imposter syndrome is a real thing, experience by everyone – in my experience, introverted, creative types are a sucker for it.

I’m having to brag about what I’ve done, come across a super-keen and self-assured (to be fair, I’m being pretty picky right now and – at time of publishing – after much info-gathering, and speaking to people, I’ve now honed in on where I want to be). Put my best foot forward, as they say. Whilst showing-off doesn’t come naturally, I’m also having to convey great enthusiasm and an element of “yeah – this is totally the thing I wanna do” (again – at time of publishing – I’m feeling much more comfortable with this). Really, I won’t know for sure until I’m doing said job and experiencing it for myself.

That said, it’s helpful to know the key ingredients, which for a long time for me are ideally in a small team where I can learn, with a company whose culture and values align. But beyond that (time of writing), it feels like I’m taking a few shots in the dark and seeing what lands (at time of publishing – I still am, to be fair – everyone in publishing says it’s a mix of perseverance and luck when it comes to landing your first job).

Also, as I’m applying for junior/entry-level/intern roles, I know I’ll have to get past the whole “Aren’t you too old/over-qualified for this”-type question. Which is fine, but I know I’ll have to feign confidence and coming across that that particular job/company is exactly what I wanna do and where I wanna work and all other jobs and companies are baaaaad. An exaggeration, but you get my point.

And then there’s actually getting the interview, getting past the interview, and then the next interview, and then accepting the offer, and then finally actually starting the job! Phew.

But then a whole new bunch of questions surface… am I capable? Will I like it? Will I suck at it? The questions I’d have anyway, but are amplified by the fact that I’ve had a break from work, and that this is a new industry, and new territory. Perhaps the biggest downside to not having a workspace to go to is that you’re left to your own thoughts, criticism and paranoia all of the time. It doesn’t surprise me that co-working spaces are cropping up everywhere at the moment, for those who don’t have ‘typical’ jobs – i.e. freelancers, creative, creative freelancers, freelancing creatives, etc.

That whole “fake it ‘till you make it” thing has never worked for me. If I’m not wearing the coat, haven’t got used to it, and it doesn’t feel like it fits, I struggle with putting on the facade.

Let’s just hope this one fits. Thankfully, it’s been feeling more snug of late.

✏ Written: Tuesday, 6th March 2018 @ 8.49pm

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What about you? 🤷🏽‍♂️
Do you ever feel like you’re “faking it” or are “gonna be found out” in your work – or even when it comes to your life? As always I’d *love* to get hear your experiences with the whole imposter-syndrome-thing 💙

I quit my job, then got depressed.

Nearly 3 years ago, I quit my job.

Rewinding a little… After dropping out of university – twice – I was still none the wiser as to what I wanted to do with my life.

Sales was one of the things I could do without a degree (after the financial crisis of 2007-08, graduates had a hard time getting a job, let alone non-graduates), where there was still an opportunity to make what I considered ‘good money’. Whatever that means.

I was also attracted to recruitment as I figured I liked helping people, and helping recruit people into jobs would feel good, right? Hmm, little did I realise at the time, but most people weren’t in financial services to ‘feel better’. And moving a person from one job to another, doing the same thing but for more money, didn’t have the intended feel-good factor I was hoping for.

Anyhow, from day one I’d known that recruitment wasn’t “it”. There were highs and lows, long hours and commute, and I found myself sometimes leaving home at 6.30 in the morning, and then not getting back until 8 or 9, or even later, in the evening. And earning what I could’ve done working 9-5 in retail. In recruitment, starting out, you have to earn your stripes.

For a while, the competition sustained me, and I was lucky to join a second recruitment firm that was a smaller outfit, and the people were a bit more human.

In my last year there, I broke into the “top-5” in sales performers. I earned just under £70,000, before the taxman got his nice piece. That year, I also got shared ‘Employee of the Year’ with another colleague.

One moment still sticks, at my last Christmas party. Everyone else was drinking, being merry, having a good time. Earlier that evening, I’d been announced as joint Employee-of-the-Year and received a prize, applause, etc. And yet, I was sat at that Christmas party thinking, why am I not happier than this?

Shortly after getting back from a family trip in February, I was certain that my time was up. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Having not completed a Bachelor’s at university (and coming from a ‘good school’ and Indian blood where more had been expected from this baaaad boi), there was some unfinished business there. In my early 20s, I’d gotten into devouring self-help, body language and psychology books. I managed to get myself into a year-long Masters course in Psychology. It felt right, even though I didn’t know what I’d do afterwards.

I handed in my notice the day I got confirmation of my place on the course. My resignation came as no surprise; I had been a shadow of my motivated, energised self the previous year. In an open-plan office, spending that many hours with your colleagues, people know when something’s up. They wished my well and, after just two days, I was gone. (Short notice periods in recruitment – one week at my place – if you’re not making money, why keep you? Also, I’d arranged a lunch with a colleague each day to pass the time / say goodbye, and I think they didn’t want me telling them I hating recruitment and was going off to ‘find myself’ or some sh*t).

Alongside my Masters, I tried to set up “my own thing”. After devouring books around “lifestyle design” and “do what you love” and “build the life you want”, and also doing a ‘career-changers’ course with a small group of other confused, unfulfilled millennials – I decided that I wanted to try my own venture. Becoming a life coach, joining a startup, and being an entrepreneur seemed like the go-to options for unfulfilled folk, and I most fancied the latter.

Boy, was it stressful. Especially doing it all on your own. After a few months, as Christmas approached (I’m convinced I’m affected by the ‘winter blues’), it became increasingly apparent that this was of living wasn’t going to work out.

The day-to-day reality of running a business, this business, wasn’t for me. I was stressed out and worrying all the time. It really wasn’t nice.

My Masters course had lectures only a couple of days a month. And the business was a solo venture. Through isolation, stress, and an increasing sense of panic that I was back at square one and still had no idea what I was going to do with my life, my mental health deteriorated.

I felt like a failure. I felt that friends, family and the world had send me quit my job, and made a big mistake. What’s worse is that I didn’t realise or acknowledge this, and talk about any of this with anyone.

Worried about my changing mood, my mum somehow convinced me to see a psychiatrist who had come recommended. I went for her peace of mind and – somewhat to my surprise – I filled out a couple of forms and was told that I had ‘a degree of depression and anxiety’.

Whatever that meant. I wasn’t convinced. I was pretty damn low, but I remember at the time not believing I was depressed and anxious, as I ‘didn’t feel suicidal or anything like that’. I perceived that I was insulting those who really were depressed and anxious, that I was making myself out to be ‘worse’ than what I was really feeling. Good ol’ inner critic of mine. He can be a harsh b*stard at the best of times.

I am so fortunate to have seen the psychiatrist when I did. I was getting lower, and more isolated, and had seemingly dropped off the face of the earth completely. I didn’t want to text/Whatsapp anyone, let alone see anyone. I remember going to the gym, often a safe space for me to go to workout and lift my mood. I remember one particular time where I just could not focus on exercising at all. I was so low and unmotivated. I was also paranoid that others around me could detect my low mood, and I was nervously looking about the place – even more so than usual.

Through a combination of medication, group-therapy and 1-to-1 therapy, thankfully I’m in a better place as I type this today (though I did have a relapse around September/October last year, taking a turn for the second year running – again, the change in weather and daylight seems to affect my mood).

After the Masters year, and my business thing fizzling out, I ended up taking a year out. I’m now looking to start working again – after almost 3 years of not working for anyone.

Yikes.

As well as the usual anxiety that comes with a change, the subject of ‘work’ is one that has caused me distress and discomfort for what seems like all of my adult life.

As I’m looking to do something different with my life, I am looking at junior-level roles – and even internships – to learn the ropes. I feel like Chandler from Friends when he made his own career change,

I have this fear of “am I good enough?” and “Why would they pick me for this role?”. F*ck you, critical voice!

It feels like I’m well-and-truly winging it (hello, imposter syndrome 👋🏽) and, whilst all these thoughts aren’t uncommon, I have to be careful to keeps some perspective and not let my thoughts run away with me.

As my day is still my own, it’s very easy to get caught up in these sort of thoughts, round and round in my head, slowly chipping away at my self-confidence and self-belief.

I’ve had interviews, and even an offer, so I’m making progress. I’m doing my best to treat wherever I end up as an opportunity and a learning experience, where I can only gain.

I try to remind myself that many of my concerns are unfairly being amplified and irrational.

Whilst I have faith that the path I’m on is the right one, never did I think that quitting my recruitment job would eventually lead to my depression and anxiety diagnosis.

But thank God it did. 🙏🏽

✏ Written: Friday, 23rd February 2018 @ 11.44pm

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What about you?
Have you ever quit a job you didn’t like? Have you dealt with any of these feelings of WTF when it comes to the whole ‘work’ think? I’d love to hear about what you’ve experienced 💙