Don’t feel ungrateful.
When you’re at parties, filled to the brim with stylish attendees, banging music, conversation and most importantly, an open bar, you can sometimes feel more alone in that moment surrounded by people than you do when you’ve got a free house on a Friday night and just roll from room to room practically in your birthday suit, screaming Ariana Grande at the tops of your lungs. Okay, just me then…
Know then that you don’t need to fill every space, party til the lights come on, or even dance to every tune. Often, socialising can take more from you than it can give, so put yourself first – the show will always go on without you.
Don’t subscribe to FOMO.
Did you know that FOMO (formally diagnosed as the Fear Of Missing Out) was the number 1 leading cause of stress in creative industries from 2015-2018? I made that up but thought it sounded convincing, the next one’s real. In the Old Testament, it reads “Forbid the ever-toxic FOMO from living in your heart, for where it lives, happiness shall seldom pass.”
There will always be another party, another dinner, another gig to go – choose wisely and choose for yourself. And when you opt out, know that in that moment you made the right choice for yourself and do whatever you need to do to live with it: mute people on Instagram, log off Twitter, turn off the whole phone if you need to.
Don’t fall into the void.
There will be moments – perhaps many of them – where you will feel like the jokes on you like everyone is winning except you, or every move you make is a gross misstep. Like you’re in The Truman Show and the objective of everyone around you is solely to make feel uncomfortable and also ridiculous. In those moments, it is all too tempting to withdraw further into yourself and disengage completely. Instead, fight the urge to validate your insecurities and know that you are not alone. Fake it until you make it, refuse to be governed by Imposter Syndrome and even pocket a small dose of that insecurity and use it as fuel to push you harder.
Don’t let men dismiss, patronise or silence you.
Because it will happen, repeatedly. Find your own ways to tackle and flag whilst remaining professional and true to your character.
In creative fields, the personal can often become political – a feature that’s both a blessing and a curse. Allow yourself to be attached to your work, let it be as authentic as possible. Not only will it amplify the feeling of success when it INEVITABLY works out for you tenfold, but I crunched the numbers and it is also approx. 3000% easier to maintain motivation for work that you are truly invested in.
Do set boundaries.
The upshot to being so closely linked to your work is that it’s harder to escape, esp. as someone who may find it harder to draw the line with yourself and with colleagues. Departmentalise your work into time periods and allowing yourself time ‘Off’ to prevent burnout – something as simple as designating your morning and evening commute as Sort Through Emails O’Clock and allotting certain days of the week to address certain areas, can reduce the sheer quantity of tasks you juggle in your head throughout each day.
Despite previous accounts, it is possible to find your people here. They may not always be the life of the party, The Plug™, or even approach you first, but have the patience and perseverance and genuine connections will come. When they do, allow yourself to trust and dissolve all disparaging doubt or cynicism. Good people are everywhere, you may just have to kiss a few frogs.
Do ask for what you want.
A simple one but easy to neglect. No one can shape your career but you, and if you fail to vocalise what you want, for fear of seeming arrogant or worthy or high-maintenance – how can you expect others to help you get it.
Do something that scares you.
Lastly, by all means, put yourself and your comfort first, because no one else is going to. But remember to push yourself into unchartered territory every once in a while and hold yourself accountable to do so. Whether that’s an initially awkward coffee with an acquaintance, going to a gig alone or posting your work on Instagram and then muting notifications because cringe – learn your limits and proceed to test them on your own time frame.
Catch Natty on foundation.fm – the first female-lead radio station from 7-9pm every second Wednesday of the month.