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It Happened In My Lifetime – Stepping Out on A Wing and A Prayer

It Only Takes That First Step

It Only Takes That First Step

A few months back, my contract at the place where I worked ended. I know anyone would kill to work at the BBC right? Even take whatever you are given, just so, you can say I work at the BBC. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good learning ground and I learnt so much in the space of time I was in there. In fact, I made sure that I got as much out of it like I put into it.

But when the contract ended and the prospect of a new job was not offering itself, I asked around as to what was available. Of course, getting shifts was the most feasible option to go for, which I did get some and loved the experience and hope to get some more.

However, there was another role, which was just not for me. I thought about it, weighed it up, spoke to my mentor. Now this should make you laugh, she knows me so well, she said, if you take that, you are going to be depressed and I don’t want you to go silent on me.

I happen to be one of those people, whose mind works faster than their body can keep-up with and if I am doing something I am not passionate about, I get depressed. The role that was on offer was such that when it was being pitched to me, I was told, I’m sure we can find a way to pay you. A kind offer but it was not journalism related. I studied and trained to be a journalist. That is all I dream of and of course other things I would like to do with my life. I can’t quantify the joy that bubbles in my soul when I see my name in print.

Now please, don’t get me wrong and I say this with all due respect…after a degree, a postgrad and spending 3 years gaining work experience…that did not sound very attractive to me.

However I was also scared. I was afraid that I won’t have a job, afraid that I’ll no longer be able to say, I work at the BBC and people would be like oh! I was afraid of what I would live on and how I would survive. I was afraid that the cushion of being a student was not there for me to fall back on. I was afraid bottom-line because the world was in a recession and here I am, leaving my first full time job after studies.

But I knew that if I settled for anything because it’s better than nothing, then that would kill me faster than being jobless. So, I decided, we are going to give freelance a try and see how it goes. After all, I was doing that as a student in order to build my portfolio and I had learnt some good lessons along the way.

And my world is the ‘freelance world’ scary. Editors have so many people to deal with; they might not get back to you for days and some might not get back to you at all. The chasing up and the most despondent of them all, the ‘NO’ that you get after five emails got to me. I felt undervalued and unimportant.

But the breakthrough came and it came one day at a time. It has not been easy, there have been tears and days when I locked myself away and didn’t want to talk to a soul.

Days when Facebook became my escape route from dealing with the reality, days when the disparity between the vision and dream I carry inside me was so different to the reality of my present time and days when I cried until I could cry no more and my salty tears tasted comforting to me, days when I could not express what I felt because my soul was hurt by life’s fair share and my spirit was really angry and wanted to beat up on life for being so unfair.

But then the morning of each day brought a new challenge, pitch an idea, wait and see…lately it has been better. The ideas are working and the platform to be a journalist is trickling in and I am doing a variation of things…challenging myself and my own intellect.

But this blog is because some of the things that may never have happened to me if I had stayed at the BBC with the job that was available at the time are happening.

It was the 25th anniversary of Wasafiri, a magazine of international contemporary writing and I took myself along to the Southbank. I went as an audience member and a journalist. And in my life time, I interview Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Kiran Desai and the editor of Wasafiri. Susheila Nasta.

If someone had told me that week that in one day, one email would give me access to two of literature luminaries, I would have said ‘No way, get out of town.’ But it happened to me and it happened in my lifetime. And I am very glad I stepped out on a wing and a prayer though fear sat deep down in my heart and there are days when I am still scared because I have no idea when the next commission will come through my inbox.

But If I had stayed in there just because I wanted to be able to say I work at the BBC, it may never have happened. This is not to say I would turn down a job at the BBC. I would give it great thought and if the shoe fits, wear it the right way. But for now, I would like this road of a wing and a prayer to take me places I never dreamt possible and open doors I never thought would open.

The unknown is scary but once you start on the journey of the unknown, you do learn a lot and the unknown becomes the known. It happened in my lifetime and I am still stepping out on a wing and a prayer.

Image: From google


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