THEME: Rearview Review
Recently, I’ve found myself at a career crossroads. Having transitioned four years ago to the entertainment world, in pursuit of a more creative career, I’ve found I’ve been missing my previous life working in humanitarian aid. The challenge now is to find a way to combine the two. If Angelina and George can, so can I.
I’ve never had an easy relationship with my career. When I read Amy Poehler’s description of her career as a ‘Bad Boyfriend’ (who doesn’t call you back, sleeps with other people, makes you feel bad about yourself), it rang true. My Bad Boyfriend makes me feel terrible about myself, fostering all kinds of false insecurities. He plants doubts that aren’t there (e.g. that I’m falling behind, somehow failing to achieve career milestones by a certain prescribed time – shouldn’t I have (i) produced the first feature I’ve written, (ii) struck a chord with my audience, (iii) written a book of essays… all before I turn 35?) Poehler’s advice is to champion creativity and I agree. Even so, you need to manage your Bad Boyfriend (or Jealous Girlfriend) so that you end up doing what you want.
Bad Boyfriend Management is something I’ve only realized this year as essential, and is itself a part time, unpaid role (albeit a small, a half day a week gig – but a gig nonetheless). Yes, managing your career is an unpaid job. Checking and rechecking against your career goals, signposting and staying on track, or switching tracks when you need. Believe me, although it may be unpaid, it pays off. What’s been lacking since my earlier life working in international development is feeling some kind of positive impact of my work on others. It’s a personal, deep-rooted need for my work life, and by ‘impact’ I mean it can be a wee thing, too. Managing the Bad Boyfriend means I constantly evaluate and remind myself of such priorities. The result so far is: modest ways I’ve been lucky to feel a positive impact from my work.
Despite being busy beyond belief over the past decade (correspondingly getting more and more ill – see how little that Bad Boyfriend cares?), I’m delighted I’ve managed to make time to write for Good Morning, Good Morning! over the past year, together with six talented women writers dotted around the planet. They’ve been an invaluable support network, and the blog has presented a way for me to write stories for a readership with whom I have been lucky to strike a chord. When a reader takes the time to contact me to say they’ve been experiencing or thinking the same as I have, or how they feel a little less alone after reading, or they feel a little more hope, my work is done. Although it’s a small impact, that very connection is pure gold. As Robert Redford says: “Storytellers broaden our minds: engage, provoke, inspire, and ultimately, connect us”.
I’m thankful to have worked in all kinds of interesting and challenging roles and on incredible, world-class projects that include GMGM! Now I’m at this latest career crossroads, for my next role, my goal is to continue to bring together storytelling and some element of positive impact on my audience or readers, plus a humanitarian dimension where possible. There’s no need for it to be perfect, though this hybrid is what I’ve been working towards for the past year during my half-day per week of Bad Boyfriend Management, and I’m certain I’ll continue to bridge that gap.
*Haribo Happy Cola – one perfect hybrid