Milestone reflections

Last week was a birthday milestone for me. Not one of the big decade markers, but a 5-year point that still makes you more prone to self-reflection.

I don’t really do personal blogging anymore, so I'm very out of practice, but here goes.

First things first, they're not exactly New Year’s resolutions but I did set some basic aspirations for 2017, as I do function better with goals:
  1. Read more, because that definitely makes you a better, more motivated writer.
  2. Limit my starch carb intake, or, at the bare minimum, don’t combine starches in one meal.
  3. Don’t over-commit to writing freebies. Unpaid is the default state when it comes to entertainment and geek lifestyle writing in South Africa. However, I can’t afford to divert too much energy and time from my own creative projects.
  4. On that note, finish my novel, and push further with other WIP across the media spectrum.
  5. Find paying employment.

Number 5 is the biggie on the list, and it's going to take up the majority of this post. I believe that if I had the stability of that anchor, other aspects of my life would fall into place. Because right now I’m deeply anxious about my professional future.

I don’t know what to do, or where to go.

I’m truly fortunate to have options, I admit this. I live fluid, so I could move to Cape Town or Johannesburg tomorrow if necessary. I’m also entitled to live and work in the UK (and currently the EU). However, the Universe isn’t providing any obvious signs as to what direction I should head – and I'm actually a big believer in following those.

As a result, I feel adrift.

I’m flailing far away from shore, alone, and not advancing towards land anywhere. While that happens, options sink away because action is always better than reaction. And thanks to the window into others’ lives provided by social media, I’m well aware of everyone sailing past while I sit static. Whereas I feel increasing despair and demotivation, they seem to have such drive. They’re powering ahead, and I am left behind, feeling increasingly old and irrelevant alongside the young guns.

My confidence sinks further when I consider how few “life achievement” boxes I’ve ticked. After all, society has a distinct set of success markers for each age group. In other words, by X years you should have accomplished A, B and C. Things like owning property, getting married, having kids, and being pretty well established in your career. Certainly in my age bracket, in my conservative hometown, I should have at least one of these under my belt. I don’t, and I feel that “on paper” it makes me look restless, unfocused and unaccomplished.

Lara Croft may be a huge inspiration to me, but I certainly don’t have the adventurer’s unwavering confidence in leading a life off the beaten track. I do look around and succumb to Greener Grass comparisons.

Even though we spend our entire lives being told to never measure ourselves next to others – to make our own unique journey at our own pace – I still often look over the fence. I can’t help it. And I know I’m not alone in doing that. It’s difficult. The successes of others are right there to gaze upon, and remind us of our inadequacies.

I wish I was stronger, with greater resolve in sticking to my dream of a writing career, focused on the things I’m passionate about. However, I don’t know how to make it work in the everyday sense. I don’t know how to reach out to people. I’ve spent so long sticking to the periphery, a solo figure outside the politics (but also the networking), hoping that my output would find acknowledgement somewhere, and in turn lead to something else. But it doesn’t work like that in reality.

And when you’re on your own, there’s nobody to depend on; to take up the financial and general self-supporting slack while you try to figure out how it will work.

So right now, on top of everything else, I feel like a coward – craving stability and prioritising it over a willingness to sacrifice in order to achieve my dreams. That adds to my insecurities, to be honest. That I just don’t have what “it” takes.

So now I search for a new day job after a decade as a copywriter and two years as a language teacher. For now I have the luxury of sticking to my initial promise to myself. That is to only move forward; not back. A few years in a remote area far removed from my former life gave me perspective – what matters (to me), and what feels like a meaningless preoccupation in the grand scheme of things.

As such, I don’t want to return to full-time advertising (or digital) agency life. I enjoy marketing communications but I crave a more focused and responsible role. I would much rather be embedded at a company, able to go straight to the source for accurate information, and have sufficient capability to resolve issues from a community management perspective. It’s rare to have that power if your social media is outsourced. If I were to go full corporate, I would probably look for something like a communications officer role.

This said, I would be up for anything where I got to continue developing my jack-of-all-trades-ness. I know what I have experience with, and what I feel confident handling. I do the full spectrum of digital and ad copy stuff, including script writing and voice direction. I proofread and copy edit. I’ve been involved in Pop Culture content creation for assorted websites and print publications, as well as in my own private capacity. I’d love to try my hand at video game writing, whether on the marketing or creative side. Or both. And after standing up in classrooms for two years, I have no problem with public speaking either.

Most of all, I just want to wake up every morning feeling good about what I do. That it’s a good fit for my personality and principles; and that it’s meaningful to others. Oh, and that it allows me to get by financially on my own.

Admittedly, these are the ramblings of a person of privilege. Many never have the luxury of choice because of simple everyday survival necessity. However, this post is a combination of me working through my insecurities, and asking for help in finding direction.

So, if anyone knows of any opportunities for me, I’m available. This is me reaching out, to my friends, to the Internet, to the Universe in general. I can go anywhere, and I can do most things. Just tell me what you need or what you know of.


Hi, Cassey linked so I came to read. Have you read Big Magic? I think it will help.... but besides that, wishing you all the best in your search.
Fruitbat44 said…
Well, I wish you a Happy (belated) Birthday. I can't really offer any practical advice or opportunities sadly. But just hang on in there. Thought I once came across, we always think the Grass is Greener on the other side, but in the end it's still just grass. I have no idea whether you'll find that profound, or if it'll make you consider hurling a ice-axe at me. -ducks JIC- But I do wish you good luck.

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