It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged – it seems that life, training, assignments and exams have jumped in the way. However, having just completed my second journalism exam and handed in my monster essay about politics, spin and public relations, I’m starting to settle back into the life of a university student, despite some misgivings and a fair bit of self doubt. My course is teaching me to think critically about the role of the media and how we communicate, and what that means to me and my aspirations for career change. The thought of changing my career path at this stage of my life has led to a fair amount of mental gymnastics over future pathways, yet every time I walk into a lecture or a tutorial there’s a deep sense of feeling that I’m in exactly the right place.
What’s driving those mental gymnastics is fear – ranging from fear that I can’t write university level essays or study for an exam to fear that I won’t get a job or fear that I’m an old dog that cannot learn new tricks and that everybody else (whoever they are) will leave me behind. There has been much discourse over the notion that fear is an imaginary state and often what we fear the most, isn’t actually real. The same concept applies to the media in general (must have learned something) – we can become so immersed in it, particularly digital forms e.g. Facebook, that we fail to realise that every single post or comment isn’t necessarily real, but the construction in our own minds of what is real and true.
For example, in a previous life when I was participating in bodybuilding and running a fitness business, I crafted a persona that was professional, favoured evidence based practice and was particularly ‘sensible’ about nutrition and training. That image wasn’t crafted to mislead anybody as every business person does this as standard operating practise. Rather it was designed to be a representation of myself and practises during that time. It’s worth remembering that everybody in the digital world is curating an image of themselves via their posts, pictures, comments and platforms used, whether they like it or not.
Yet, like fear, none of what you see in the media is actually real – rather it’s a representation of events as seen through the lens of an individual/organisation. When I feel paralysed by the fears of not succeeding and meeting my goals – the whole beating myself up over my long slow cycling recovery and getting my weight under control is a good one – I need to keep walking the path that tells me it isn’t real – over and over again. I’ve been working with the technique of mindfulness with the psychologist and admittedly it feels like I’m pushing giant rocks uphill – that could also have something to do with a fear of addressing the past – I’m still trying to learn that many of our destructive thoughts and patterns have their origins in childhood.
Next time you’re on social media and perhaps feeling inadequate that you a) didn’t have a green smoothie for breakfast b) didn’t check in at the Qantas business lounge for your overseas holiday or c) didn’t receive over fifty “likes” for your particular political point of view that day, remember to step back and realise that none of it is real, unless you choose to immerse yourself in someone else’s particular reality. From my part, I’m no longer going to blog about how “I’m keeping it real” – I’m just going to continue writing – “real or unreal” (you decide!).
Again I think a dystopian book to movie translation does a representation of fear well for me, how about you?