graduate

Beyond the gentle waves is where the real turbulence lies.

‚ÄčI knew I needed time off work, but I didn’t realise just how much being there was causing these negative feelings I was experiencing every single day. I thought it was my just my general mood, because I was struggling to find my feet as a journalism graduate. I thought it was because of the mudane pressures that come with being an adult.

Still, a few days away was enough to put things into perspective for me. I went away to places I had never been before and I explored.It gave me a moment of pure calm as I looked up to the moody sky and realised for once I didn’t feel the same. I took a deep breathe and then watched the waves of Loch Lomond roll out and into the roots of outgrown trees.  As myself and my boyfriend crossed a wooden bridge we peered over like excited children, chatting about all the different kinds of pebbles. We discussed and challenged the easiest route to get around a slightly alarming puddle. We saw some ducks. I was content.

Walking is my therapy, so these trips became more than just your every day stroll. I ended up with the kind of soul-searching, outwith my usual boundries kind of walk which usually occurs when life is in the process of adapting around you.

Walking brought up feelings, and it was refreshing to break through the numb quiet I have become used to, a gentle reminder that despite my moment of calm, I am still struggling.

Most people in my life know this, that mentally, physically and financially I am drained. 

Though it may be unbelievable, I am still happy, I have very good friends, and I like coming home to my supportive and intelligent partner. (And of course my cats). But when i go to work, I become sad. It’s like a shift in personality. I stiffen, I expect negativity, to be talked down to, to be cursed at, shouted at irrationally. But I can handle that. It comes with the job and you find positivty and kindness goes a long way in dealings with these situations. But I become unbearably sad and it isn’t right. Work doesn’t give me any feeling of pride, I no longer feel a sense of achievement. I feel stuck, badly paid and unappreciated. I am not happy about the way things are run, or with some of the people “running it” I am unhappy not just because of me, but having to watch everyone else I have grown attached too struggle and feel just the same in varying ways. 

It is a workplace that is in no way shape or form forward thinking about the welfare of its employees, nor their livelihoods. Everything is a bother, or a problem. You request a day off weeks in advance and you are verbally called a pest. You work your socks off, you produce sales, instead of gratitude, you gain nothing. It is a still silence.

It is an expected silence.

And so you watch a manager get a hefty bonus for sitting in an office huffing about its awful staff and how everything is left for them to do, because we are incapable. While the staff and other management are hard at work serving, dealing with the everyday issues and nonchalantly working away, indifferent to the opinion of one on their individual abilities.

I spend most my time there, but this work is not my life, just my livelehood. And that is something I am made to feel ashamed of and restricted to. I did not spend 5 years studying journalism to be forced into a weirdly controlled working environment that tells you how to feel, or do, without reflection, a moment of creativity, a challenge or offer any prospects. It is not a happy workplace and I will never lie about that. 

So my time off has been very much a rude awakening. 

I already knew I was stuck and there is nothing I can do about that until I can find a new job.  While I never expected to be in this position, at least time off has confirmed what the problem is, that I need mental stimulus and respect. I need more than this and that is completely okay. It is a simple conclusion but a sign of a changing attitude, because if there is one thing I do best, it is that I believe I adapt well, even if I don’t realise at the time.

Reflection

Throughout my life, I have reflected on my actions, my choices, and my feelings, and today is no exception.

Towards the end of university, I thrived off the simplicity of success and the feeling of working towards a common goal. My aim was to graduate with honours. Of course, this was a desire that everyone had, that was the point of it.Yet surprisingly, in the beginning, I didn’t. See the truth is, I expected to fail, even though I have already gotten so far. I doubted my ability, my intelligence, and I battled with my own negative outlook. But university changed my way of thinking.

In the beginning of university my natural reactions to most things were primed by a negative mind. I was clouded, so whenever something good happened, say for instance, getting results back and sharing them with others, I would feel embarrassed and awkward. When I quietly announced to a friend over a table that I got a B in my portfolio, I watched their reactions, their smiles and I would smile back with an apologetic look on my face. Why, because I wanted to shout and jump about it, but gloating wasn’t my normal way of doing things, I was embarrassed for allowing people to feel excited for me. I was being fussed over and instead of feeling grateful for such a positive reaction, I looked for anything to turn around and enforce my negative opinion of myself and my achievements. It was so bad that I would take congratulations from lecturers with a pinch of salt, go home and think about how I could have done so much better.Simply Because I truly believed I wasn’t good enough. I was so deep into my own self-loathing, I couldn’t comprehend positivity, and that is a truly terrifying thing.

But the thing was, the people in my life didn’t cater to my darkness like I wanted, they smiled and cheered, and egged me on. The issue I was faced with was that my self-doubting was so bad, my sense of judgement of progression and achievement was seriously clouded. But university gave me my guts back, and the friends I had and made along the way pushed me to celebrate the small things, and most importantly my boyfriend changed how I saw myself, loved me no matter. And so, I reflected some more.

See, like all humans, we reflect on our actions, our feelings and our patterns that we develop. Over the years, I accepted that feeling ashamed about wanting to be better and successful was just a response, driven by past events to my own inner issues. I accepted that I was reinforcing my own idea about myself, and it started to become clear, that I saw myself differently to everyone else in my life. I was always quick to celebrate other people’s achievements but I had finally begun to feel proud of my own. University and the people within it gave me that. I started listening intently to those words, watching those reactions and changing my own perception of myself. I felt like I was finally in control.

As I went through my final two years of university. I took on board the constructive criticism from lecturers and let it guide me. I put myself into situations I would never have dreamed of. I worked for Sky News and threw myself into an internship at a publishing house I wanted to work for. I wrote about something that interested me and got it published. I chose a difficult and interesting topic about reporting on trauma for my dissertation, I interviewed very successful people in the business and didn’t feel unequal. I did these things because I believed in myself and listened to those who believed in me too. I did these things because I wanted to be the best of myself without the negative outlook.

On reflection, if there is one thing I am sure of, it is that we continue to grow – up and better – all at once, and the challenges we face are sometimes obstacles we place before ourselves, because we either don’t know any better, or we haven’t allowed ourselves to be better. But with a bit of reflection, we can all get through this, challenge ourselves to be the good within and not what we are told, but who we are and how we feel.