We're five weeks into the Wicked Women Creative Development Course – connecting, learning, and sharing ideas with like-minded creatives – and I've already gained so much. I studied Spanish and English Literature at university, and while I loved my degree, it didn’t employ me with many “real-world” skills. Lecturers rattled on about the importance of academic writing which pulled me away from embracing my own style and creativity. However, this opportunity has rekindled my confidence to write and create how I please. I'd go as far to say that it has already taught me more valuable career development skills than my entire 4-year degree programme put together. So, here are 5 lessons I have learned in 5 weeks of the Wicked Women course. 1. You don’t have to have it all figured out just yet. In Week 4’s session, we heard from two inspiring female creatives: Ngunan Adamu, CEO and founder of iWoman, and Amy Collins, the creator of PinHead UK. After both of their presentations, what struck me the most were the non-linear paths they undertook to reach where they are today. They weren’t afraid to explore their options, return to further education, or take risks. This point made me reflect on my path and remind myself: what’s the rush? When you leave university, the expectation is to jump straight into a job and have it all figured out. I’m not alone in swinging from feeling optimistic about the beginnings of my career to feeling uninspired, and that job-hunting may be an exercise in futility. However, if there ever were a silver lining of the global pandemic, it is that I have had the opportunity to figure out what I truly want to achieve. By embracing a slower paced life, I can consider who I am as a creative and rekindle passions that I lost amid deadlines and a few too many late nights. I’m spending my energy thinking about how I can do something meaningful in the long term rather than something that brings me little joy in the short term. It’s important to remember now more than ever that life isn’t a race. Through these weekly sessions, I am learning to slow down, be patient, and be happy and grateful for what I have at present. 2. Knowledge is power.
So far, each of our weekly sessions has reinforced the importance of learning. For instance, we should stay informed about the latest creative industry news and make note on what’s missing in the market. On the other hand, broadening our spectrum of inspiration by reading alternative points of views in our industries is just as vital: sticking to what you know only limits you. Moreover, the more you know, the more confident you will feel. When we undertook a skills audit and reflected on what we already know, we were, in turn, able to identify in what areas we could improve. Nourishing your mind and expanding your knowledge boosts your confidence and opens you up to more opportunities.
3. It’s okay to take a break and slow down.
Too often, society places hustle culture on a pedestal, especially across social media. For example, those people who hit the ground running as soon as their feet touch the morning floor, overloading themselves with more than is humanly possible. I’ve fallen prey to this myself with a constant need to stay ‘productive’ and busy. However, unceasing work leads to burnout. By overworking, you grow so accustomed to being on autopilot that you are no longer attuned to your surroundings or yourself. Besides, if you’re exhausted, you won’t be in the right frame of mind to create and inspire. That being so, the least we owe ourselves is one day a week dedicated to self-maintenance and rest. One day when we do nothing except read, write, practice yoga, exercise, dance around like no one is watching, paint, spend time with nature – whatever it is, it’s important to let our minds be still. Consider it as an investment in ourselves. With that in mind, over the past few weeks, I have relished my slow mornings and rekindled my habit of meditating every evening, eating well, and reading smart. Self-love is the new relationship status from here on out.
4. You’re not alone.
From the introductory session of the course, it was reassuring to find out that I wasn’t alone in feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed. Speaking to inspiring, like-minded creatives each week fuels my desire to create and make an impact. Working and learning alongside these women has enlightened me on the benefit of removing myself from negative people. I’m in the process of unfollowing such people on social media and instead, curating my feed based on what sparks inspiration and positivity. In the same light, I’ve learned not to no shy away from making connections. By building a strong support network, we can ask for help from people we trust. Similarly, we shouldn’t be afraid to pester people now and then. If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you never ask, the answer will always be no.
5. I can make an impact. After a few months of feeling uninspired, this course has reaffirmed my aspiration to be someone who wakes up and loves what she does for a living every day. Those flashy influencers on social media aren’t representative of everyone. They aren’t the voice of the collective population. So, if I want to make an impact, there is no point in sitting on my sofa and waiting for it to miraculously happen. I need to go out and make a change. Smile more. Show more gratitude. Do things that challenge me. Be brave. Nourish. Grow. Finally, maintain the belief that I can make a difference – if you believe in yourself, other people will too. Evie Braithwaite is a book and lifestyle blogger @EvieBraithwaite www.eviejayne.co.uk