Feeling Like You Belong

For this post, I wanted to open up about how I’ve felt these last few months when it comes to my life and my career.

In September I started a new degree, a masters in Media and PR. Having previously studied Maths, I was in a whole new world, I was a newbie. Having this fresh start made me change my perspective of the future, I was determined to work, meet new people and potential employers, and for once, do well. But being new to it was very intimidating, and it got in my head A LOT.

This feeling had me in slumps a lot, especially throughout this third lockdown. I know other people feel it too as I have read many posts from people in PR and others expressing their self-doubt. I came across the term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and found that a lot of the characteristics matched up with how I was feeling. I felt like I didn’t belong in the PR world, like people would catch me out for being a newbie and that I will never make it because I’m not an expert.

The main worry I always had was my lack of experience. This, in turn, led me to signing up for anything and everything. I applied for a lot of internships at the end of 2020 and was rejected from the majority. This made me worried even more, like people were seeing through me. I spent a lot of the beginning of lockdown 3 questioning why I had changed my career path.

What I am doing to overcome this:

In January I started this blog, as a way of learning, sharing my opinion, and putting myself out there to be noticed. So far, it’s doing pretty well. Thanks to Richard (from PR Academy) sharing my posts on the student PR blogs of the week, my blog has reached a lot of people in PR. Having this place to write my thoughts has allowed me to connect with students and professionals and also helped me feel like I belong.

I don’t shut up on Twitter and it works. Twitter has been a saviour when it comes to networking online (especially since we can’t do it in person). I get involved in conversations with people from the PR industry, as well as use it as a source of information. #powerandinfluence with Ella Minty is also a great place to get chatting to people over a topic you’re all interested in, even if you’re not an expert and just want to ask some questions.

The lovely thing about following people from the PR & comms industry on Twitter is that the majority of the time they follow you back and that follow can really help because it shows that they’re also interested in what you have to say.

From this networking on Twitter I received a job! Thanks to Stephen Waddington I’ve already reached new people, new discussions and that feeling like I deserve to be working in PR. He saw the motivation in me to build my career and succeed. My confidence in myself has grown a lot over the last few weeks because of it all.

This is a feeling that most will experience, whether that be when starting something new like a job or a degree. Some people who have worked in a profession for years can still feel this way. I like to remind myself that I am working hard, it is being recognised and to just carry doing what I’m doing.

I could go on for ages about how I’ve felt these last few months, but I just wanted to share this with you as a lot goes on in my head before I post a blog, or write a tweet that people don’t know. Perhaps for those that feel the same, especially students who are studying/graduating throughout this pandemic, this is reassuring that it’s not just you.

Deciding What You Want to do With Your Life

I’ve had this post in mind since starting my blog, it’s a lot to do with why I’m here writing my posts and why I’m studying Media and Public Relations. I’m going to tell you some of the ways in which you can realise what it is you want to do with your life — from my experience.

Photo by Karyme Franu00e7a on Pexels.com

In this weeks #PowerandInfluence with Ella Minty, we saw Teela Clayton discussing her switch from teaching to public relations. Just like many people she came to a point in life where she wasn’t happy with her career and decided to make a change. It happened with my mum when she changed from High Court Enforcement to teaching assistant.

For me, as a 21-year old, I switched my path straight after finishing my degree. My undergraduate degree was in Maths with Management. Sometimes it would excite me, but the majority of the time I had a constant thought that it is not an area I wanted to work in. It was too dull for me, I needed something that’s going to bring different experiences and opportunities.

Back when I was in school I had an obsession with working in the fashion industry, I didn’t know where or how, but the one thing I knew was that I could never be a designer (sewing machines hate me). So, I put that idea aside and went with what I was good at, maths. I don’t regret picking it because at the time I loved maths too and at least I gave it a shot, right.

Anyway, below are a few suggestions of mine as to how you can come to realise what exactly it is that you want to do with your life.

What did you want to do when you were a teenager?

Like I previously said, I had this constant reminder in my head that I’ve wanted to work in fashion ever since I was in school. We often think that the dreams we had as a child were just dreams, but you can make them a reality. I didn’t know exactly how I could make my way into the fashion industry, but since being at university I’ve learnt a lot of different elements that are involved within the fashion industry, so I looked into it to see where best I’d fit in. For me, I’m hoping it will be PR!

What are you good at?

Don’t know what industry you want to work in? Sometimes it can help to pin point everything you’re good at and going from there. I love communicating to people, meeting new people and representing groups. When I was younger I would work at the school open days and it’s the same now I’m at university. For the last two years I have been a co-president of two different university societies, being the voice of a group of people is something I’ve enjoyed doing.

So, from this I began to look into industries that include this skill and passion. Now, there are a few, but I looked at the PR Master’s course at Newcastle University and found that a lot of the content described these skills that I was good at and can help me turn them into a career. I found that I also love organising events, which can fall under PR, this was something I didn’t know yet.

What careers you want to learn more about?

List the careers you want to learn more about. I did this when the first idea in my head was to work in the fashion industry. If there are a few areas that interest you, take your time to learn about each of them. This will help you narrow down the list and determine which career you’re truly interested in.

For example, for the fashion industry I looked into magazine editorial, styling, advertising, social media and PR. I read articles, interviews, job descriptions and much more to evaluate skill sets and job responsibilities. I linked my skills to the skills that these jobs required. I also looked into the job descriptions to see whether it was something that I could do day in day out.

What makes you happy?

Throughout my university life every time I spoke to mum about my degree she would always remind me to do what makes me happiest. If that meant changing degrees then so be it. I was half way through second year when it started to sink in that I didn’t really want to study maths. But by that point I was determined to finish because at the end of the day a maths degree is still a good degree to have.

I’m happy I stuck with it, but I’m much happier now I’m studying PR. Every time we learn something new, or I take on a new module, I visualise my future much more than I did when I was studying maths. That makes me happy because I’m no longer stuck with the uncertainty about where my life was heading.

You have the right to do whatever makes you happy, it is your life and you may as well live it in the best way possible for you (that was deep I know).

These are all steps I took to help determine what I wanted to do with my life. Hopefully, they’ll help you get some sort of idea too. There’s lots of other things you can find on the internet that will help (we all love a career quiz or two). One thing I can say is, and I’m sure others will back me on this, trust your gut.

How to Stay Motivated During Lockdown 3.0

Does anyone else feel like lockdown 3.0 is hitting harder than the first two? I’m having to find new ways to stay motivated so I’m not in a constant rut. I don’t know if it’s because we’re used to it now, because it’s so cold outside, or probably a mixture of a lot of reasons. I for one feel like my life is on pause and that the world has stopped turning for the last 3 weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying who I’m with and the things that I’m getting up to, but I feel like it’s hard to stay motivated about the future when everyday is the same. So, here I’m going to give you my go-to’s on staying motivated during lockdown.

Routine is Key

When looking back on the first national lockdown and how I felt motivated everyday, I usually think about how I was taking my final year exams for my undergraduate degree. I had a huge poster of how I was going to manage my time studying. Something like this, whether it be a poster, diary or calendar can help you visualise each day and with the situation changing so often, having this consistency will make lockdown feel more manageable.

Trying to keep to a similar routine to the one you had before lockdown such as eating, sleeping and exercising will help your body function better. I’m not going to lie, I was never big on exercising, but as long as I leave the house for a quick walk every now and then I feel like I’ve at least accomplished something.

Learn New (or Rediscover) Habits

Now that we have more time you can take on a new hobby or rediscover something you used to love doing. In the first lockdown I started painting and noticed I’d be doing a piece and hours would have passed. The best thing about finding a hobby for me was that I wouldn’t touch my phone for hours because I was so absorbed in painting.

My new habit for lockdown 3.0 and the future is blog writing. Having something new to try out can help you stay motivated as you are engaging in something you enjoy.

Being creative can be relaxing, which is great when you’re stressed about work or the outside world.

Stop Overthinking the Future

Okay, this is a BIG thing that I have to overcome on a daily basis. This can be both about what the world will be like post-lockdown and what the future holds for you personally. You can’t control everything that the future holds, so try living in the moment and doing what you can for the life you want to live.

For me, I tend to overthink my professional life all the time. As a soon to be graduate, I hear about the struggles of 2020 graduates in the job market. But, we need to remember everyone is in the same boat and that we just have to take it as it comes.

Finger’s crossed post-lockdown life lasts this time around and we won’t have to experience lockdown 4.0.

The World (Wide Web) is your Oyster

See what I did there. We may not be able to travel the world and discover all of it’s glories, but there’s nothing stopping us from utilising the internet.

I’ve taken each lockdown as an opportunity to learn new things, whether this be through online courses, podcasts, my degree and much more. I recently changed paths by graduating from a Maths degree and starting a master’s degree in Media and Public Relations. So, I’ve found using online courses to learn extra things associated with my masters will help advance my knowledge. Of course you don’t have to stick to this, you could learn something completely random that you’ve always been interested in.

Another way to utilise the internet is by staying connected. I know what you’re thinking, you’re fed up with zoom calls, as am I. But that doesn’t mean you should stop using it to keep in touch with your friends and family. If you’re looking for something new to spice up the weekend party calls then try out Backyard.co – it has lots of fun games incorporated into a zoom-like call. Staying connected will help keep you motivated throughout lockdown so you can see everyone when it finally ends.

Recently, I joined a Facebook group for people working (or studying) in PR and Marketing and it’s helped me feel apart of the community. Engaging in conversations and discussions about anything and everything is allowing me to learn things from professionals but also enabling my voice to be heard. If you’re looking to enhance your network then I highly recommend following some like-minded people on Twitter – there are some great discussions on there during lockdown!

Disclaimer: Not the best idea to spend all of your time online, as I said focus on living in the moment. But use it when you think it will help with your goals and motivation.

Finally…

I bet you’ve compared yourself to someone and everything they’ve “achieved” during the lockdowns. Try not to do this. Everyone is handling the pandemic in their own way. Each individual is different, so take the lockdown as it comes and live it the best possible way for you.

What motivates you may be the complete opposite of someone else, it may even be the complete opposite of me (hopefully I’ve helped you realise what does motivate you though). We all have good and bad days, I know I’ve had a few bad ones recently, if you find yourself having a bad day then try to think of each day as a fresh start and work on discovering what’s best for you.

Let me know what is keeping you motivated throughout lockdown in the comments below or by emailing sophsnextstep@gmail.com