Monday 23 September 2019

rollercoaster ride, in the fast lane: rejections, reflections and the healing power of pop

disclaimer: this post contains very little in the way of music and is instead an accumulation of my thoughts and feelings over the past two weeks that i needed to get out of my system in the only way i know how; an unnecessarily long blog post. usual service will resume next time as i talk about the mix of Bops and Bangers i had on repeat while all this was taking place.

i’ve been obsessive for as long as i can remember: perhaps it’s the taurus in me.

famous for being “creatures of habit”, once we like something, we tend to stick with it.

obsession has taken on various guises throughout my almost 24 (!) years on earth, be it music, fashion, unrequited crushes, and of course My Career.

in my birth chart, the earth sign taurus represents my midheaven sign, which according to wikipedia represents “career, status, aim in life, aspirations and public reputation” and could explain why it’s a topic i’ve covered at length on this blog.

after an incredibly stressful two weeks, one of my refinery29 horoscopes for this week asked me to “write your career goals and accomplishments down to get perspective on what you’ve accomplished this year”, so here i am attempting to do just that.

i started out the year struggling to complete my news associates course and writing for about manchester, before being offered the job at VIBBIDI in april and later writing for conversations about her.

in the meantime, i’ve also been attempting to find a Proper (i.e. paid) Job, and it dawned on me that in the last two months i’ve had six (!) interviews, none of which have led to said job.

two weeks ago, one of these interviews saw me travelling to london for the first time in two years (!!) after applying for a copywriting job at a fashion brand and completing a written test which they seemed to like the look of. in the words of lizzie mcguire, this is what dreams – specifically those of my 15-year-old self – are made of… or so i thought.

i boarded the train to euston filled with a mixture of dread and excitement, which upon arrival at brick lane - an area that has remained largely unchanged since i first set foot in this slightly pretentious section of east london aged 16 - descended into full on disassociation as i browsed the excellent vintage market, sat in the window of a pret a manger pretending to enjoy an overpriced salad and tried not to die from the 26 degree heat. 

after so many rejections, i couldn’t quite process the idea that the Dream Job my teenage self once envisioned could be in my grasp if i didn’t fuck up the interview; no pressure then.

overall i think it went okay, but i couldn’t help feel intimidated by the CEO of the company - who also happened to be interviewing me - and found her incredibly hard to read. despite reassuring myself that there was nothing more i could have done, it was impossible to shake the nauseous feeling that descended on me once i left the building and it followed me around for the rest of the day.

sadly, i never heard back from them, and if it had been any other job, i would have brushed it off and continued to scour indeed for more positions, but this was the one job i could seriously imagine myself doing, despite the slightly frosty reaction i received.

over the last year, i’ve been following a self-prescribed course of binge-reading ask polly letters and absorbing every word of jessica dore’s daily tarot card readings to try and force myself to become more ~positive~ and see the good in all of these rejections, but though i now accept that failure, embarrassment and rejection are normal parts of life, i still find it incredibly hard to apply these pearls of wisdom to my own predicaments and continue to assume the worst in 99.9% of situations.

in fact, it was a recent ask polly letter that truly had me In My Feelings. despite describing herself as “successful in my creative career” and “social and hardworking”, the letter writer was obsessed with the idea that her boyfriend would eventually leave her, despite there being no obvious problems in their relationship. while i’m none of the things described above and have been single for approximately 350 years, her fears instantly resonated with me, and when i read polly’s response, i felt both attacked and validated.

there were a few paragraphs that really resonated with me but particularly this one:

“working very hard and being focused on your career can be a way of trying to feel whole. people who are successful at creative careers often have a long history of funnelling their obsessive energy toward some goal: they socialise with a vengeance, they work hard, and they channel their insecurities and longings into figuring out how to be persuasive and entertaining. their intense emotional insecurity drives them to crack the code: this is how you entertain people and win their love. this is how you charm people and convince them to put their confidence in you. this is how you seduce new friends and new lovers. this is how you squeeze every last ounce of love out of this broken world.

it pretty much sums up how i’ve lived my life for the last eight years; trying desperately to achieve my dream of working in fashion and moving to london as i was convinced that it would fix all my problems. however, reading letters such as this one has made it clear that achieving these particular goals doesn’t stop you from being anxious and obsessing over things out of your control, and the interview made me realise that perhaps the ultra-competitive world of fashion isn't something i truly want. nevertheless, the day after the interview, i felt like i was on a comedown of sorts. having seen what’s possible made it even harder to return to my small bedroom in a small suburban town and i found myself in the midst of yet another existential crisis.

it was then that i stumbled across an article from the cut, titled “what makes ambition come and go?” where the author reflected on how her ambitions have changed since her early 20s. 

this paragraph about her “job ambitions” felt particularly significant:

“i wanted recognition, to earn a spot at a particular table, to impress a certain segment of people. at one point when i was 27, i had a blog post go viral, and watching its traffic numbers rise on chartbeat, i felt like i was high. i remember thinking that everything in the world could go wrong from then on out, but no one could take this one thing away from me. it seemed like the beginning of something, but also felt like an ending — an item i was subconsciously crossing off my list.

i had an extremely similar feeling last year when one of my posts was retweeted by lily allen. seeing the endless stream of likes, retweets and messages from people telling me how much they liked my writing was a feeling unlike any other, but i also knew it wouldn’t last forever. a few days later, my moment of ~viral fame~ came skidding to a halt and i was left thinking “what now?”

thanks to my positivity crusade, i now have the emotional intelligence to realise that a moment is just that; it happens and life goes on. however, it feels like my life has been an endless roller coaster of dizzying highs (see: the work-related achievements i’ve had this year) and devastating lows (see: the various rejections and jobs that felt like they were in touching distance, only to escape my grasp).

this brings me to my final article, which i read last week.

man repeller’s nora taylor wrote about drastically overhauling her life in her late 20s by leaving a job she wasn’t happy in and the joy of feeling “regular” once she'd found it, her life no longer dictated by the extreme highs and lows of trying to Follow Your Dreams.

once again i found myself relating to her story of running from one job to the next, making and breaking friendships and leaving one big city for another, all in the hopes that it would fix everything. like me, she spent several years pressing the self-destruct button before realising that the only person who can change things is you, and the answers can’t be found at the bottom of a shot glass or on the lips of strangers.

picking a favourite paragraph is hard, but i went with this:

“growing up the second time, where my desires and my life are layered on top of each other and not on parallel tracks, has been a thrilling type of puberty. i am finally free to live my life instead of observe it. how nice it is to revel in the mundane. to sit with a friend over coffee and pause to be thankful for where we are, for the life we live.

it gives me something to aspire to, but something about this particular dream feels different.

for so long i believed those highs and lows were completely normal and almost enjoyable; who wants to live a boring life? but as i find myself on the cusp of 25 (help me), all i really want is a sense of stability. this desire has always been there, and it’s probably what prompted me to take various antidepressants during my time at uni, only to be horrified by their ability to completely dull any and every emotion i attempted to experience.

so i stopped taking them, choosing the sambuca-soaked nights and questionable decisions that everyone in their late teens chooses to make while away from home for the first time over that sense of stability.

while i can no longer deal with the hangovers and that delightful cocktail of shame and anxiety i often feel the day after a big night out, ironically last saturday turned out to be the best night out i’ve ever had.

following my second time seeing hannah diamond at soup kitchen, i experienced an exhilarating high that can only be achieved with the music of charli xcx, kim petras, slayyyter and SOPHIE, courtesy of girls night out.

the club night first started in london and made its way up north for the unofficial hannah diamond after party, and it was there in the company of some very kind strangers who danced with me all night that i felt a semblance of peace.

when used in the right way, alcohol can enhance my experiences and give me that slight boost of confidence i lack in my everyday life, and that night was a perfect example. 

yelling the words to unlock it at the top of my lungs, it was a world away from how i used alcohol at university to take the edge off my emotions and deal with various traumatic experiences which occurred around that time. 

i’m not sure if time does heal all wounds; while some of them have started to form a scar, an ever-present reminder of a particular pain i’ve experienced, others very much still feel like a gaping hole. these are the ones i’m trying to repair, while acknowledging that it’s not something that can happen overnight.

in summary: the last two weeks have been a wild ride and though everything feels uncertain right now, i now know that i can use all the knowledge i’ve acquired this year and the series of rejections i’ve endured to Keep Going and create the life i truly want, without compromising my own boundaries and integrity. 

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