I've never struggled with interviews. I've always been able to prepare effectively, to feign absolute confidence and to never be phased by a trick question, no matter how fast my heart beats or how ferociously my palms sweat with nerves. I credit a great deal of my ability to conceal anxiety and embarrassment to the daily humiliation I faced at drama school, where hours were spent crawling around like a tiger or shaking a cucumber-shaped maraca in a horrendous rendition of a Cirque de Soliel track. In the soul-destroying period of job hunting after graduation, almost every rejection came with a personal email to ensure me that I was a pleasure to meet and that I'd interviewed really well. That was until three years ago, when my CV was chewed up and violently spat back out as I suffered a particularly daunting and confidence-knocking interview for a minimum wage PR internship.
Apparently, at the age of 21, I was "a floater". Somebody who "couldn't pick one thing and stick to it, so floats around instead", to quote this particularly non-sugar coating interviewer. I feigned the usual confidence and nods of agreement during that interview, as my past experiences, achievements and personality were obliterated within one cutting observation of my CV. Afterwards, I cried on the tube, doubted myself more than ever and regretted every hobby I'd pursued and every career path I'd considered following so far. I felt like this for quite a while before I picked myself back up and dusted myself off. Perhaps it hit a nerve; the same nerve that still wavers beneath a confident and courageous exterior. The nerve that makes me question everything I do and whether it's really for me; if it's what I'm supposed to be doing and where it will take me.
Now, three years later and after working my way up in PR regardless of that horrific interview, I find myself in this position again. I've handed in my notice at my current job, am leaving next month and currently have nothing else lined up, which absolutely terrifies the control-freak in me. I'm constantly being advised by colleagues on what I need to do next to further my career, on how I need to make sure I'm 'not out of the beauty PR game for too long' to avoid 'throwing it all away'. I made the mistake of mentioning a desire to explore other things and received a chorus of disapproval, harmonised with disappointed sighs and unwanted advice on the affect straying from the industry could have on my CV.
I want to dabble in things. I want to write, I want to travel, I want to explore everything that interests me. Living in a city where the average mortgage deposit is rising twelve times faster than the average salary and where we're facing over a decade of serious saving to be able to afford a tiny one-bedroom, what's so wrong with that? What is so wrong with being a jack of all trades, or at least the trades that call to you? Especially within creative industries, it's natural to have several different interests and talents, so why should my love of travel or music or books contradict my love of beauty products and vice versa? What kind of a world are we living in, where exploring the various things which excite you, is deemed negative? Surely, this is what our 20's are for.
I understand that to be considered senior in a certain field, your resume should demonstrate experience and expertise which are niche to that industry. But what about those of us who struggle to find a clear cut career path or have one dominating passion? Part of having a creative mind is divulging an interest in several different things, however messy that may feel. For ages, all I wanted was the security of a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job; but when you have the constant niggling thoughts of all the places you haven't been yet to contend with, this kind of routine can only keep you content for so long. In a generation where none of us can afford to take the traditional stepping stones of marriage and home ownership by the age 25, what's so wrong with exploring all of the things we're good at and enjoy?