I struggled thinking about how I wanted to approach this topic.
Option 1 – I write about it in a way that is me deflecting from something that might be a real problem with random musings that probably aren’t funny but make me do that “exhale forcefully from your nose” kind of laugh.
Option 2- I treat it seriously and open myself up so people can have an insight into my thoughts. That is not fun for a person known for his lack of emotion (see my previous blog post about me congratulating my burglar (it still counts as link economy if I link to my own writing, right Ian?)).
So the natural conclusion to that was that I write both. This is the second one.
I think the inspiration for this probably came around the time the Bob Friend nominees got announced. I was pretty bummed that my name wasn’t there. Not because I felt I deserved it, but because it was the latest in a series of reminders that I wasn’t good enough. Going into February, I had yet to see the signs that anything journalism-related I had done in my second year had been any good. Bad marks. Unsuccessful interviews for jobs. I didn’t pass the NCTJ Essential Journalism exam. Even the name is basically a middle finger. “Essential” i.e. this test is to show that you can do the basics of journalism. And you failed. PS. You owe a £100 for this exam and the retake.
That’s the kind of thing that makes you question your ability and re-evaluate everything. It was becoming clear that continuing to go down this road would probably be unfruitful for me. I’ve been plagued by thoughts of dropping out for a while. Probably since the first couple of weeks of first year. But at that point, you sum it up to uni being a new experience. I thought that once I’d settled in, everything would be fine. Well, it was now a year and a half later, I was thoroughly settled, and I still wanted to leave.
I think my real problem is that journalism isn’t a good fit. It’s just not for me. The thing is, I’m not sure it ever did. When it came to choosing a university degree, I found it really difficult. I didn’t know what I was good at and what I wanted to do. It’s not exactly something that’s easy to know at that age. All I had was this feeling that I was a somewhat decent writer and I spun that into this fantasy about being a journalist and looking to make a legitimate change in the world. Since starting uni, it didn’t take me long to realise how deluded I was. Don’t get me wrong, if you actually want to be a journalist, the CFJ is probably the right place to be. As much as I’m not that enamoured with the profession, I still think the course is good. I don’t have too many problems with it other than the NCTJ, but that’s because I don’t feel like I’m being “trained” anymore from that than what I’m learning on the course already. I don’t think our lecturers are holding back the secrets to journalism that only the NCTJ is unlocking for us. It’s just doing the exact same stuff, except now you become qualified because of what it says on a piece of paper which, if you ask me, sounds a lot like what a degree should be for.
So why haven’t I dropped out already then? If I’m being honest with myself, I’m too scared to do it. I can’t let go of this idea in my mind that dropping out is a sign of weakness and that’s something I feel I wouldn’t be able to face up to. That’s not even to say that I think dropping out is something to be looked down upon. A good friend of mine on my course dropped out early into first year and I couldn’t respect him more for it. Our dissatisfaction with our situations was the same but he had the guts to be proactive about it. It’s not that’s it too late to drop out either. I quite like the idea of the sunk cost fallacy, so you’d think that I’d just bite the bullet already. But I can’t.
Instead, I am trying to get my life in some kind of order. I’m trying to figure out what I want to do. Everything seems like a bigger problem than it actually is if you let those thoughts ruminate around in your head for too long. So I’m choosing to believe that everything will work out in the end. I might be wrong, but it’s better than being constantly stressed out about it.
In the words of one of my favourite artists, I got two versions. Here’s the other one.