I’m on the plane back from Russia and I do not know when I’ve been this tired. I cannot recall a more stressful time than the past few days, overseeing social media for a poker tournament.
I swear, it almost killed me.
Several times, I simply had to repeat the mantra in my head: “Just get through this, get home, and then you can quit.”
I repeated it over and over in my mind even as I wanted to scream with frustration and anger. People who spent all day on the slopes and then all evening sipping cocktails had the gall to come and try to tell me how to do my job; they dared to criticise what I was doing when I was imprisoned in a casino until 4am.
Part of it, of course, was extreme stress and pressure coupled with sleep deprivation. And it did pick up a bit towards the end; I think I even came close to enjoying myself at one point.
I was working with the most fantastic external team – really, really talented guys. Finally I could be creating and outputting the kind of storytelling content I had always wanted while working with a crack team of creatives. That part was, if not enjoyable, then at least satisfying.
But how can I go on like this?
Living in dread of the next period of extreme stress, “managed” by people who don’t have a sodding clue in hell as to how my job works or who will just leave me alone to get on with it.
Part of me is just utterly sick of social media full stop. When you’re entire working life is likes and followers and brand awareness and acquisitions…what kind of existence is that?
Yes, I know that there are far worse things I could spend my working life doing. But still. It feels like I’m simply working to promote the pointless. It feels like my entire job is pointless. It either need to step up or step away.
The way I see it, it either needs to step up and I move into consultancy – where I remove myself from the frustrations of the day to day operations and focus on the overarching strategy and the creative direction. That part I still feel the challenge and the drive to do, and I feel great satisfaction in making a difference to the development of a brand and business through my online media output.
But when you just feel like you’re wheeling on a carousel of fools who have no clue, when the channels you’re trying to manage are so mired in rubbish and have been badly handled for so long it feels like they’re irrecoverable? Well, then it moves from becoming a challenge to a sheer impossibility.
I either need to step it up into a consultancy role and try to build my own business, or I need to step to the side and return to what I began as, what I’ve always been best at when it comes to the world of communications: Writing.
I find I can get lost in the task of editing. I suppose there’s always been something of the storyteller inside me and it just bursts forth in different mediums.
I love to perform.
I love to speak.
I love to write.
Sometimes I think back to what I wanted to be as a teenager and wonder how on earth I could have ended up here, chasing numbers and statistics I don’t even care about. True, it could be far worse, but it could also be a lot better too.
The trouble is I don’t have any answers and the ones which do come to mind are not easy. I need to delve deeper to the root of the problem and not splash around at the surface. Writing helps. Sometimes it’s best not to think too much and just to write – somehow if it’s here on the page it’s less in my head. Does that even make sense?
When am I happiest and most in the flow of my work?
When I’m creating something. Something which tells an interesting story. Something of quality. Something which is going to earn me respect and recognition.
I’m happiest when innovating and changing. I’m happiest when working with people more talented, more clear and more experienced than I am, when I feel that I have something to contribute in a team of experts.
I’m happiest when I’m building something new. That could be an idea or it could be a great piece of creative work. Or it could be innovating and improving something which is in place already. When it comes to those things, I’m pretty open and am very flexible in the directions which I can take myself.
And when am I unhappiest?
When I feel rejected. When I feel stupid. When I feel reprimanded and micro-managed. When I feel disrespected and unvalued. When I feel powerless.
I know that I want to operate as my own entity. I know that I cannot keep working under corporate twits and brainless PR girls. I need to be my own person; I need to be free.
Freedom. That’s what I need. I need the time to and space to reflect and move at my own pace. I need to be able to plan and organise my own day.
Perhaps my own business is the answer?
Let’s say for a moment I did take that plunge – what is it I could offer?
* Copywriting/Content Creation.
* Social media consultancy.
* Digital integration (social, email, content, SEO, SEM etc.)
* Influencer marketing.
* PR and online/offline collaboration.
So I would provide the digital content, the online advertising/marketing strategy and make sure that it was in line with SEO and backed by data. I would advise them as to audience targeting and connect them with the other talent they’d need to make it happen.
I could help brands and companies to instigate change which is going to make a real difference to their bottom line, rather than the usual fluff which I see so often; which frustrates and bores me to distraction. That’s not to say that brand awareness isn’t it’s own goal sometimes too, but a final conversion is a much more solid statistic to chase.
On the side I could pursue my love of journalism and writing, while perhaps trying to get into voice-over work (which I’ve been told I should try, and one of my TV production friends is going to try and help me get into).
All in all, it doesn’t seem like to much of a pipe dream. I think I have a lot to offer. And at 29 the question which is most on my mind is, if not now, then when?
So, I would ply my trade with the social media and digital PR side, complimented by journalism and make a try for other creative projects.
It sounds like a challenge, but surely it’s a doable one? A more interesting and exciting challenge than sitting chained to a desk day after day. I watched my parents work their whole lives away only to be worn, dissatisfied, to the bone.
I think I’ve always known I would have to make my own way. In truth, I wish that I’d worked it out long ago. Because now I feel that I’m trapped in this role and in this life; a life that I now want to escape from. More than anything, I now want to be free.
I’m not saying that it’ll be easy or that every day will be a breeze; but it sure as hell is going to be more interesting as a day to day existence than what I do now.