[Image description: Anonymous quote “Overthinking: the art of creating new problems out of ones that never existed in the first place.” From The Healthy]
It’s been a year. I think everyone is tired on some level. Tired of the news cycle being the same thing, of restrictions, the same four walls of our own homes, and even just the word lockdown. Things have become so mundane that when the Ever Given had issues in the Suez Canal, the meme creators of the internet were fuelled for days. It was something close to comforting to have world news headlines that were not necessarily life threatening. It’s moments like that, when I again learn global news from a meme, that I realise two things: the world has gotten very strange very quickly, and I am constantly braced for the next hit.
Every high was quickly followed by a low. It became expected. So much so that my baseline level of anxiety rose. That extra layer of anxiety that colours things differently, makes seemingly simple endeavours far more complicated. For example, Twitter. Personally, I wasn’t expecting the first hurdle of my publishing career to be learning to navigate Twitter, combining the already intimidating experience of figuring out a new course with the very public and permanent nature of social media.
Social media was daunting even before it became the only option for networking at the beginning of a new career. I do wonder, how much less formidable could this journey have been if it had begun in any other year? A year when we could meet people in a more natural way, one that we have had more than a year to get used to. I don’t know if there is a good time to be living through a global pandemic. But I can assure you that it is not when you are unemployed, moving to a new country, and starting a master’s degree.
It’s never easy to find your place in the world, to be comfortable enough in your own skin to know exactly what makes you unique and own it. And although people mean well, the common advice of “what you’re struggling with can provide a unique perspective” falls flat sometimes when you’d rather not be struggling at all. It’s hard when you do want to engage and give yourself the best chance to get a job in an industry you love. When you know you’ve worked hard to get here, you want to ensure that you’re not doing it as anyone but yourself. Where is the line between learning to be more comfortable online and forcing yourself to fit the mould we assume publishers want us to fit? I am still trying to figure that one out, maybe it’s a line we all find for ourselves. Whatever you can manage without feeling like you’re playing a part, social media already has enough performances.
Now, over halfway through the course and somewhat adjusted to the new world order, I’ve learned a few things. First, the most reassuring lesson, most people feel like they are just faking it till they make it. Especially in a learning environment, we aren’t supposed to know what we’re doing all the time. We’re supposed to be making mistakes, and hopefully we come out the other side with a little more confidence than before. Second, learning to navigate social media is a process, one that sometimes means researching everyone you follow so you don’t regret it later. Lastly, I’ve learned that, as intimidating as starting off in the publishing industry can be, it is filled with people who are willing to help, even if you haven’t followed them on social media yet.
So, if you’re frustrated that pushing yourself to click send on a tweet has become too daunting, you’re not alone.