Do you ever stop and wonder whether you’re doing the right thing? Whether something you’re devoting your time and effort towards is really worth it in the long haul, or will even yield results at the end?
This has been going round in my head for quite some time. I’ve always known what I want to do, and I’ve been chasing after it for the last while. But that doesn’t stop me from getting caught up quite often and questioning what it is I’m actually doing.
As I write this, I’m at the end of my masters degree, and am unemployed. First point – masters. Yep, I finished one degree, and decided to do another. In my defence, I’ve wanted to have a career in journalism since I was 12 years old, so it wasn’t a huge shock to everyone when I decided to study it at university. It was a shock to everyone when I was met with quite a bit of doubt about my capabilities from everywhere I viewed, and so I decided to fall back on studying business instead.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved business. It was my favourite subject in school, and I still get excited chatting about marketing and economics. But even though it looked like I was destined for an office job complete with briefcase and pinstripe suit, halfway through my course two things happened: Brexit (businesses freaking out over so much uncertainty? Count me out) and a whole load of doubt as to whether or not I was doing what I genuinely wanted to do in life. I spent my final two years half-heartedly working through the course, unable to even imagine a future career in the business world. All my dreams lay with journalism, and I was very aware that I was about to head off into the big bad world of work somewhat disappointed with my life choices.
So towards the end of my degree, I applied to study a masters in journalism. Again, no one was shocked; though my dad openly admits that he was a bit disappointed I was undergoing another year as a student – soz, dad. I can honestly say that I’ll never ever regret doing so, because it’s given me confirmation that all those years of pining after a job at Newsbeat weren’t a total waste of time. I love every aspect of being a journalist, on every platform.
This brings me to my current dilemma, however. All that’s left of my degree is to complete my summer project, and then I’m a free agent. Technically, I could be working as of right now if I wanted. But it’s become pretty apparent through daily job searching that there doesn’t seem to be much available up here in Scotland. One by one, qualified journalists all around me are finding jobs… but I just seem to be totally stuck. I wish it was due to being fussy, but I seem to have found an issue where there’s either nothing on offer, or there’s the eternal problem I refer to as the “experience cycle”. You know the one; they’re strictly looking for someone with proven experience… but you can’t break into the world of careers and gain any proven experience without being taken on. I’ve started looking for work further afield, which would mean shifting myself and my boyf elsewhere – though I don’t know if it’ll come to that. I still have a few weeks until my project excuse runs out, but I’m aware that things are getting quite tight in the way of rent money. And I think the whole thing has made me start questioning whether I’m actually capable of finding anything in the industry.
It’s already a rubbish feeling when you feel like you’re totally pants at something, but when it’s something you’ve wanted for nearly half of your life… it’s pretty goddamn awful. I’m so happy to see others around me do well, but I’d be lying if I said the thought of continued unemployment doesn’t keep me up at night. I’ve also now got my parents doing the whole “have you actually been looking anywhere? Maybe you’re just being fussy” thing which is a n i g h t m a r e, but also fair. I get it. I’m not being fussy though, FYI.
Despite all this, I am still only 22. If I reach an eight-year-long unemployment spell, then perhaps more panic and intervention will be justified. But for now, I’m trying to remind myself that I’m only just starting out in the field – I’m not going to rush off and become the broadcasting star that 12-year-old Hannah wanted me to be at this point. I have these little “age deadlines” that I stupidly set for myself when I was a bit younger: engaged by 24, married by 26, children by 28, that kind of thing. I’ve always been hard on myself to achieve things within a certain timeframe, or forget all about it. But I think I need to put a stop to these deadlines, and just take things as they come. I get worked up about feeling pressured to do things, but it is in fact me who puts the most pressure on myself.
No one really knows whether I’m doing the right thing or not, and no one could give me a reassured answer until it’s all over with. But when it comes down to it, none of us really know, do we?