I was chatting to my sister on the phone when we found ourselves scrutinising our own Instagram profiles.
“I only show myself when I’m wearing makeup or I’m dressed up,” she told me.
And she’s right – we are both like that. Like, I believe, 99% of the population who don’t want every volcanic pimple exposed to the masses (or, you know, 450 of your nearest and dearest).
More than my appearance, relationship, or lifestyle, I suffer from Perfect Instagram Life Syndrome (let’s call it PILS) most when it comes to my career. I always look to walk that blurry line between hard-working and narcissistic; I want to be proud of my achievements without being boastful of them. That’s because I truly believe we need more women who will hold their heads up and say, “fuck yeah, I earned this” without pointing to luck.
I don’t always get the balance right.
For example, I will happily snap Zara and I reaching 100,000 downloads on our podcast, Shameless, without showing the tears and struggle (and, uh… robust debates) it took to get there.
I scan my Instagram feed and see droves of blissful PILS posts. Everyone is kicking goals, making truckloads of money, getting promotions, scoring book deals, finding their groove. I see friends gush about their “dream job” on Instagram Stories, despite only weeks before telling me that they’re miserable and desperately looking to leave.
All that shit is alienating. You feel like a failure when you compare yourself to all that glittery, fictionally unwavering success.
Perhaps women like Zoe Foster Blake (who I adore and want to be in basically every way possible) are just that sparkly – just that flawless and talented. But I’m not. And I want to make it known: for every sliver of “career success” I have fucked up, been rejected, been crushed, chewed up, spat out and stomped on.
And that’s okay – failing is part of the process. It just doesn’t feel that way when everyone expertly conceals every blemish and imperfection in their professional life.
Now that I’m freelancing, I want to be honest about both the highs and the lows – because there are many.
So, here’s the reality behind my PILS…
- I was rejected by one of my favourite publications of all time.
Rejection is hard. Hard in life, hard in work. Especially when it comes to spilling out your best, most developed thoughts in an email, only for them to be promptly thrown into an imaginary digital rubbish bin. Having your story pitches be turned down by publications is never fun, but this was different. It stung. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying, but I did feel my non-existent tail drag between my legs for the few hours after opening that email.
- Shameless was originally turned down.
If Zara and I weren’t so annoyingly persistent, our podcast would never have existed. We originally came up with the idea in about October last year, pitched it to a company, and were told it wasn’t going to happen any time soon. If it did eventually go ahead, we were told we would be ‘considered’ as hosts – but there were certainly no guarantees. Again, it hurt. A lot. We had spent hours developing a pitch – coming up with a name, recording a pilot episode, meeting with people in sales – so to be told ‘no’ was crushing. At the time it was upsetting, but sometimes when things feel like they’re going wrong, they’re actually falling into place.
- In my second week of freelancing, I earned less than my 19-year-old brother.
A-yup. That’s the nature of working for yourself – some weeks have been glorious (frantic, busy, crazy), but certainly not every week is like that. And that’s just the nature of freelancing.
- I sent an application with a typo in the opening line. A typo of THE COMPANY’S NAME.
I think this experience gave me PTSD. About two weeks ago, I applied to do copywriting for a fancy-pants interior design company. I spell-checked my work about two bajillion times before sending it off only to – AS I PRESSED SEND – think “I spelled the company name correctly, didn’t I?” Ha! HahahahahanoIfuckingdidnothahahahahahaha. It will come as a total shock to you all that no, I did not hear back.
What have been your failures this year? Let’s all have a big ol’ failure party, please… Oh and listen to the latest ep of Shameless below! If you want to join our FB group click here.