Positivity in lockdown

The Coronavirus outbreak has brought the world anxious and trying times, bringing unpredictable difficulties. For those of us staying at home, it’s important to find the silver linings and try to stay positive, despite the complete upturning of our previous ‘normal’ life.

I am definitely a glass half-full kinda person, but at the moment it’s easy to fall into a downward spiral of worry, which I definitely did at the start of lockdown. I found not being able to predict what is going to happen, the stress of uni work, not knowing when I can next see people, and if people were going to be okay really stressful and worrying. I now have more certainty about what is happening with uni and as we’ve now been in lockdown for a while, I am doing my best to stay positive and proactive. To combat all the negative effects of stress, it’s really important to find small moments of happiness in our days. I’ve compiled a list of things to help create positive emotions/things that have made me happy over the past months.

1. Remembering to be grateful

  • Being stuck at home has made me very grateful for my family. I live with my younger siblings, parents and three cats, and getting to spend so much time together has made me feel very grateful for the good relationships we have. My siblings and I get on very well, there is laughter everyday and so far we have only argued about what to have for dinner or my brother screaming and jumping at his Xbox so loud it sounds like he’s going to fall through the ceiling.
  • I feel so lucky to have a garden and as we’ve been blessed with sunshine recently, the flowers are in full bloom.
  • My boyfriend and friends!! I miss them all so much! I just had my birthday, which was strange but very lovely. Social media posts and cards really made me smile. Two of my friends came round my house for a distanced chat and it made my day :))

2. Savouring the small things

  • Despite lockdown, we can still find pleasure in the every day things we did prior to the situation. For me this is having a huge mug of tea in the mornings, the smell of coffee, showering, stroking the cats and so on.

3. Technology

  • This would come under gratefulness too, but lockdown had made me grateful for social media, instead of often viewing it as a negative thing. There is a huge physical distance, but this lockdown would be a very different experience without the ease of video call. The online society created via social media is bringing us all together via the challenges we’re taking part in. My university football club had tour cancelled, and instead we are racing the distance to Croatia against UoB netball for NHS Charities Together.

4. Staying active

  • I’m an active person who enjoys keeping fit, but I’ve actually found this quite hit and miss in the past month. I miss having to walk to places and being able to go to the gym. I think there can also be a lot of pressure to see lockdown as a time where you need to get fit and eat healthy. But it’s a stressful time, be kind to yourself.
  • Just doing a little bit here and there is important. I’ve been really enjoying going on cycle rides, but my sister has got really into home workouts, everyone is enjoying different things. But I do know that I rarely regret getting active, so when I am motivated releasing endorphins feels great.

5. Manage your news consumption

  • To be checking the news or to have it on in the background is an easy habit to have and it is good to stay informed, but this might just make you less productive and more worried.
  • I have stopped checking in the morning, opting to only check in on the main headlines in the afternoon. But obviously everyone is different. This article goes into more detail.

6. Hobbies

  • At the moment I am quite buried in dissertation work, but it’s also a good time to find new hobbies.
  • I like cooking, and so I have started a herb garden. Sadly my coriander has most likely died but we are trying to revive it, fingers crossed.
  • If you’re looking for something to do, sorting through my music the other day took me hours and hours. I had so much fun finding old songs I used to love, and I compiled new playlists of my all time favourite songs/albums. Try and make a list of your top 10 songs, I couldn’t.

Take each day as it comes as we don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s okay to feel sad or unmotivated sometimes, don’t beat yourself up. Spread the love! xxx

Fleabag: a chance to see the stage performance

Multi-award winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge appears on This Morning to reveal the release of the Fleabag stage show on Amazon Prime

To all the Fleabag fans out there, devastated at the end of the award-winning TV series, there is more to see! Despite Waller-Bridge confirming multiple times that Fleabag has ended after 2 series, the play that sparked the brilliant show has just been made available online via Amazon Prime. It is a recording of last year’s theatrical production, which I tried to get tickets for and failed miserably 😦 But it is now happening; the iconic one-woman show is available from our own homes, and for a good cause too!

But why is this happening now? The online release of Fleabag is to “help raise money while providing a little theatrical entertainment in these isolated times,” Waller-Bridge commented in her announcement. The fee to download is £4, with all the proceeds going to important charities. Her aim is to raise money for the NHS workers on the frontline, as well as the theatre industry affected by the pandemic.

The stage show is a chance to see the TV series origins, which fired Waller-bridge into deserved international stardom. If you haven’t seen the TV show, you must be living under a rock! But if you are one of these few people, I couldn’t recommend it more. The addictive sitcom follows the life of a Londoner who is navigating her way through life after the death of her best friend with troublesome, and questionable, relationships. The characters are not always likable, but very often relatable. It is emotionally and sexually honest, and the finale left me in astonished awe, making me go straight back to the start.

So why would you want to miss out on seeing one of the most in demand shows of the past few years? Download the performance now and donate to the cause.

Dorothea Tanning: an uncanny narrative of gothic dreams

Tate Modern, London

This enigmatic exhibition reveals Dorothea Tanning as so much more than just another surrealist artist. Through her inclination for the gothic and her feminist subversion of the femme-enfant figure, Tanning breaks surrealist boundaries to explore a nightmarish dream world.

Dorothea Tanning, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 1943, Tate.  © DACS.

Alyce Mahon brings together 100 works from Tanning’s extraordinary seven-decade career. The trip through her artistic oeuvre begins with mysteriously uncanny gothic interiors, and ends with her curiously creepy sculptures to create the first large-scale exhibition of Tanning’s artistic work for 25 years.

In her most famous work Eine Kleine Nachtmusik from 1943, two young girls in tattered dress wander a hotel corridor at night and confront the aggressive tangles of the monstrous sunflower. One girl slumps as if in defeat. Contrastingly, the other girl’s hair defies gravity, standing on end as if it were pushed up by a gust of wind. The sunflower creeps towards her with a tentacle-like stem, blocking her path to the open door and the stairs, yet her confident stance and electrified hair portray a newfound sense of power within her. The happenings of the image imply the occurrences of supernatural forces and the journey of the girls’ escape, which is alluded to through the light cast by the open door. Through this confrontation, Tanning disrupts the normative role of girls in surrealist painting as being simply the muse. The obsessive sexualisation of the femme-enfant figure was integral to Surrealists, such as the likes of Hans Bellmer, and Tanning too stages this figure but subverts it into an image of female defiance, bringing the femme-enfant motif a new feminist dimension.

Dorothea Tanning, Birthday, 1942, Philadelphia Museum of Art. © DACS, 2019.

Tanning’s 1942 self-portrait Birthday again exudes power, making us question if the young girl in Eine Kleine Nachmusik is a reflection of herself. She leaves us no answers; they are paintings of mysterious narratives exploring the imagination. Yet in Birthday, it is the viewer she confronts. We see Tanning opening a door in front of a space of multiple receding ajar doors. Her confident gaze stares out at the viewer; she has bare breasts, a Shakespearian dress and a mythical creature at her bare feet, creating an image of Tanning as a woman of innate power.

The idea of escapism is explored through Tanning’s continual use of the motif of the door, making the viewer question what is it that lies beyond the door? Is it unachievable desires? Or a gleaming chance of escaping this domestic interior? Tanning explained that the open door was a ‘talisman for the things that were happening’ in her life. And how it also acted as a talisman for the power of art over the viewer too, believing we should leave ‘the door open to the imagination. You see, enigma is a very healthy thing, because it encourages the viewer to look beyond the obvious and commonplace’.

Tanning’s subversion of the domestic space is integral to her work; she transforms confined interiority into an uncanny space of other-worldly happenings. Anything is possible. Confrontation and contrast thematically appear throughout the exhibition, not just in terms of subject matter but also in her highly conscious use of technique. Tanning’s painting style is meticulously detailed and realistic, contrasting against the surreal nature of the scene to create uncanny notions. The vividness created in her images is as if it’s a scene straight out of a story, linking her literary oeuvre of her novel Chasm and her poetry, to her artwork. The imagery is intertwined, each one simultaneously developing the other.

Halfway through the exhibition, the viewer is confronted with Tanning’s sudden change in media: paint to fabric. The darkly intricate interiors are swapped for soft sculptures made of pink, white and brown cloth. There is a huge change of media and construction, yet the inherent theme of her art remains the same; it is filled with dreams of escapism. She continues the escape of conventional female roles, by replicating the constraints of marriage and motherhood. This is seen in Emma, where the woman is reduced to only her pregnancy. The simplified soft forms are also incorporated into her installation titled Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202, from 1970-73. It is an interior hotel space with a disturbing atmosphere through its gloom, lit only by a singular light bulb. The light reveals to the viewer the soft sculptural womanly forms that burst through the wallpaper, disrupting the interior space. The significance of a hotel room is notable as it immediately alienates the space away from the home. This scene is a continuation of Tanning’s exploration of a gothic nightmare. Is this a horror scene that lies behind a hotel door in Eine Kleine Nachtmusik?

https://www.culturewhisper.com/redactor_uploads/4745b11a99e3ea935900013686406092.jpeg
Dorothea Tanning, Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202, 1970-1973. © DACS, 2018.

As I travelled through the nightmarish narrative of her art, it is revealed that all of her artwork is intrinsically linked – the motif of the door, the uncanny interior rooms and the adventurous femme-enfant. It is always a scene of mystery and an exploration of entrapment. Tanning rebels against gendered roles and her imagination explodes into her artwork, transforming the exhibition into a supernatural space.

Bibliography:

  • Alyce Mahon, Dorothea Tanning, London 2018.
  • Dorothea Tanning, interview with John Gruen, in The Artist Observed, Pennington, GA 1991.
  • Whitney Chadwick, ‘The Muse as Artist: Women in the Surrealist Movement’, Art in America, July 1985.

How to help the environment AND save money

Reduce your waste!

1. Remember to switch things off when you’ve finished using them to save money on electricity, heating and water bills. Just the little things like turning off the lights, turning off the TV (don’t leave it on standby), unplugging your phone/laptop when it’s fully charged and having shorter showers will add up in saving your money and reducing your energy use.

2. Say no to single use plastic.

  • Don’t buy water bottles – get yourself a reusable one.
  • Bring your own bags to the supermarket.
  • Put your leftovers or lunch in food containers such as tupperware – no need to put it in plastic bags.
  • Cook meals yourself – this saves SO much money on meal deals, takeaways and ready-meals.

3. Walk or Cycle.

  • This can make a huge difference to your carbon footprint. Instead of driving to work, cycle! Save money on petrol/parking and get your fitness in.

Reduce your meat intake

The livestock sector — raising cows, pigs and chickens — generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks and automobiles combined. Cattle ranchers have clear cut millions of square kilometers of forests for grazing pastures, decimating natural “carbon sinks.”

https://www.greenpeace.org/
  • Try to reduce your meat and dairy consumption by a few meals per week – there are still a huge variety of meal choices out there – it does not mean you’ll be lacking in nutrients.
  • Make fresh fruits and vegetables a bigger part of your diet.
  • Buy sustainable or organic fresh produce whenever possible.

Fashion

  • Sustainable brands are sadly quite expensive compared to fast fashion companies, but investing in high quality pieces means they will last longer in the future.
  • Buy clothes second-hand, swap or rent them. For example Depop, where you can also sell your own clothes. (I still need to get on this but I plan to in the future)
  • Simply researching up about how much the fashion economy affects the environment will make your more aware and conscious in your purchases.

Transitioning back to University

I often find coming home after a busy and eventful term can be quite a jolt to the system, as you suddenly don’t have people around you 24/7 with always someone to chat to or an activity to do. At the moment, I’m in the opposite position as it is just coming to the end of the Christmas holidays, and I’m due back in Brum this weekend. I’m not feeling too overwhelmingly positive about the move back up after a lovely chilled Christmas and for things to all get serious in my third year at uni (ARGH!), so I thought I’d discuss how to adjust going back to uni.

Am I living in an igloo?

My January deadlines are looming over me, and leaving the warmth of my home does not appeal. University houses are notoriously known for their icy temperatures, and so I am about to enter and live in a much colder house. I attempt to do all my work pre-dinner, so I can relax in the evenings (and not be walking home in the rain from the library at 10pm) and snuggle up on the sofa. Adjusting to uni coldness may be ever so slightly dramatic but it’s important to be cosy and it helps me chill. Key items: tea, fluffy pj’s, chocolate and housemates. Get the work done early so you aren’t stressing late.

Food: a chore, or a fun element to be creative?

Going home to full kitchen is dreamy. I enjoy cooking and baking, and so having a kitchen with all kinds of herbs and spices mean that when you want to try a new recipe or experiment it requires pretty much no planning. Having home-cooked meals is also lovely, and not having to plan or do a weekly shop. However, instead of thinking about it negatively, I am going to cook more next term. I like doing it and it’s a great activity to be creative and to de-stress.

Getting back into the routine of lectures

Or for me, who has only 6 hours per week this year, this is about getting myself into the library for solid amounts of time to read and write. No more sleepy so-called dissertation reading in front of the fire with the box of celebrations at home. What works for me is getting into a routine and getting up early, which I was a bit hit and miss with last term so this term I’m changing that. A key thing is also to plan what you need to do and learning to prioritise things. Learning to say no to social events and go get that degree.

Adjusting back to the uni lifestyle can be tricky, especially after a lot of fun at Christmas. Keep busy and motivated, do the things you love and catch up with your pals xxxx

Mastering Motivation

For me, this is still an art I have not mastered. I am a final year student, the year everyone tells you is filled with really hard work. Yet in the past week I’ve been feeling unaccomplished, and when I do something fun it often leads to feelings of guilt. I started last week full of motivation, and I feel disappointed that I’m not where I planned to be. So what happened? I got myself into a circle of feeling bad for not working but then not feeling good enough to want to work. So in turn I got nothing done, which obviously just makes me feel worse. I want to write about motivation in an attempt to find some, lol.

In the 2 weeks running up to deadlines I am motivated to work and busy; I am able to do lot’s more work due to the ever-approaching deadline that is in reach. But what other than deadlines motivates me?

Motivation is the drive that gets us to accomplish things, and it can be internal or external. Internal motivation is when we push ourselves to do things due to our own likes, wants or needs. It’s internalised within us. External motivation is receiving an outside push that drives us to do something, for example a friend or a deadline.

External motivation is good because it makes us do tasks that otherwise don’t happen. For example, running up to my January deadlines earlier this year I was reading and writing in the library for 8-10 hours a day. Without the serious deadlines that would not have happened.

Ideally, I would like to have internal motivation every day for all things. But finding your internal push all the time is unrealistic, so I need to learn that this is okay and I don’t need to self-sabotage the next day or fun activity because of it.

For now, I need to find that internal motivation. At the moment I just have huge projects that are looming over me, however distant. I am going to break them down into achievable goals. This works for me; I love a plan. With these deadlines being so important to my degree, I also think that confidence is just lacking. As I doubt myself to complete the tasks as perfectly as I want, I am making myself anxiously motivated which results in no action taking place. I’m stuck in the period between motivation and the completing of the tasks, which leads to self-sabotage. It is necessary to work out why you’re thinking this and rid self-doubt.

Through writing this I am figuring out what motivates me and what I’m going to do, so here goes: (not including deadlines and the impending thought of failure because it is not working…yet)

  • Getting up early and out of the house – weird, I know. But for me knowing I’m up and have the whole day ahead of me really makes me feel optimistic about the day. I feel lazy sleeping in and I don’t start the day in the right head space.
  • Having a plan – breaking big projects down into achievable targets.
  • Lists – checking things off, however small, makes me feel good.
  • Remembering how shit I feel when I don’t do anything.
  • Remembering feeling proud of the work I’ve done in the past and the drive to achieve that again.
  • Working hard so I can enjoy time off, and deserve it. Reward yourself.
  • Reaching out to people – nearly everyone can sympathise and/or relate with motivational issues – have a chat.
  • It’s the end of term, Christmas will be way more relaxing and enjoyable if the work is put in now.

Obviously having internal motivation all the time is the dream, but I know that for me it is unrealistic. What motivates you the most? Are you naturally internally motivated? (tell me your secret) Do you find motivation hard? What gets you motivated?

If you’re one for an inspirational quote, here’s one of the few I actually like from Dr. Seuss.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

Dr Seuss

What Makes a Film Your Favourite?

Stepping outside these days is not a favourable option. The air feels BALTIC, the icy wind whips around my face, and darkness has taken over by 5pm. Being cold is a permanent state. I crave warmth.

I received an email today about a competition; describe your favourite film in 50 words. A writing task that isn’t uni work and can further procrastination? I’m in. Deciding on one favourite thing is tricky business, especially a film. So, I thought about films that had touched me, and Pride (2014) came to mind. It’s a favourite of mine because it combines love, history and humour, without trivialising how it is inspired by a true story. It made me laugh and made me cry.

Now how does this link to my rant about the cold?! Because, this film OOZES warmth. Maybe not in the literal sense, but it does warm my heart every time I watch it.

Here’s a short synopsis:

PRIDE is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It’s the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families. Initially rebuffed by the Union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all.

Rotten Tomatoes

The film stars Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton (aka Dolores Umbridge), Andrew Scott (the Priest from Fleabag-which if you haven’t watched, watch now!), and Dominic West…the cast is amazing. I love how the film was politically savvy, yet still comedy gold. Combining these elements, with the themes of love and loss, creates a powerfully uplifting film.

Here are my 50 words:

Heartfelt without being exhortative, Pride is a film that like its protagonists, battles with the heart to emphasise that standing together is the most powerful union of all. Incredibly poignant moments move effortlessly to scenes of hilarity. It is a film that embodies casting differences aside, to become one.

A quote from Steph, played by the actress Faye Marsay

Banksy in Amsterdam

The Moco Museum is located within the biggest cultural hub in Amsterdam, the Museumplein, neighbouring the acclaimed Stedelijk, Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum. Everyone’s heard that these are the places to visit on a trip to Amsterdam, yet after my visit to the Moco Museum of modern contemporary art, I would state that this is the museum not to be missed.

The permanent collection features the artists the curator names the Moco Masters, and it celebrates icons such as Warhol, Haring, Koons and many more. The current exhibition ‘Laugh Now’ features a collection of some of Banksy’s most iconic works, including Girl with Balloon, Flower Thrower, and Laugh Now, to name a few.

Banksy has completed more traditional works of art for hanging inside on a wall, and this exhibition allows the viewer to see this. However, the exhibition could be considered contradictory in its nature. Banksy’s fame arose from his powerful and political graffiti in the streets. Does putting his art into a museum change the impact of the original street art?

The exhibition is not authorised by Banksy, nor was it curated in collaboration with the artist. This made me question the validity of the exhibition, is it right to do so? Does it make sense for Banksy to be in a museum?

Some of the works appear to have been physically cut from a wall. Whereas others have been removed from the wooden doors on which they have been taken from to put into the gallery. Is it fair to remove the art from the original location chosen by the artist?

Many of Banksy’s works still emit the same original political message. However, when the art is put into the gallery and the context is changed, the effect is weakened. Banksy’s political and satirical street art combines graffiti with dark humour, and ultimately it is meant to be a subversive surprise. As you walk down the street you might not take it in immediately, but once you do, the impact is felt, arising emotions varying from shock to hope. It makes you think. It is art available to all; it costs nothing to view it.

Banksy’s post after his ‘Devolved Parliament’ was sold at Sotheby’s for a record-breaking price of £9,879,500 on 03.10.19

Despite this, the exhibition at the Moco Museum is compelling and it absorbs you into the environment, making you think of the different interpretations as Banksy pushes the viewer to question society. It highlights Banksy’s political activism, and allows a more in depth look at Banksy’s less exposed indoor pieces. The exhibition has now been extended until the 6th of January 2020; get yourself there if you can.

The Power of Journaling

People keep a journal for many different reasons. For me, journaling is my own personal space to express myself. When I was younger, I found it pretty tricky to articulate my feelings well. Pairing this with a buzzing brain full of teenage angst meant switching off at night a challenge. I remember googling ‘ways to get to sleep quicker’ and writing down how you’re feeling popped up, so I gave it a go.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I turn my light off and decide to go to sleep, my brain still decides to go PING and I overthink, plan, or come up with imaginary scenarios. I just can’t switch my brain off very easily. So before bed I began writing how I was feeling to clear my head before going to sleep. Obviously it is no miracle worker; I’m not about to claim it’s the cure for insomnia. But for me, writing down my negative thoughts on paper makes them real, and it’s the start of you facing the problems head on. The words going down were just for me, so I had no reason to hold back. I wrote with no filter, and I found that it was very beneficial in an attempt to clear my mind.

Journaling helped me to understand my own emotions better. I could process why I was feeling the way I did after writing it down. Looking back on them helped me to rationalise why I was like that. I mean, of course sometimes I have completely irrational thoughts – but scribbling it down at the time helps me to get it out.

Journaling can be a practice of mindfulness

Mindfulness is having an awareness of ourselves and the world around us. Questioning the necessity of this comes to mind, yet it is important to have as we so often lose touch from the matter in hand and our brains can easily spiral out of control. Mindfulness is an innate quality in all humans, so you don’t have to magically conjure it up. Being more mindful reduces stress and anxiety, and as well an increasing awareness of your own mind, it also helps us to notice the well-being of those around us.

How can you be mindful?

It can be obtained through creating short pauses into your everyday life. Meditation may work for some people, but I need an activity – and merging meditation practice with other activities, such as long cycles, drawing, writing and baking, is what I love to do.

How can journaling positively impact your well-being?

When you write in an unedited outpouring, the power can be immense. Sometimes we don’t need a solution or an opinion off a friend or therapist; we just need to get it out and have it accept what we have to say. Writing it down is in a way releasing all the jumbled feelings held up in our brains (think back to Dumbledore). Afterwards my mind feels calmer and more roomy – you create space for more positive feelings to grow, and stay. Try not to write in in the mindset of ‘fixing’ yourself. Simply express yourself naturally; the results will follow.

“Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.”

Mina Murray in her journal in Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Writing is definitely my most direct activity of practicing mindfulness. When you spend time expressing yourself on paper, it makes you more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In turn, you understand and accept them, and this leads to you taking action because of them. For a while, my journal was my go to when I needed a rant, or needed to figure something out. But I didn’t want it to be just a book of angst!! I was realising how much I liked having this personal space just for me, as it is so easy to get lost in technology these days.

Throughout the ages of 18 – 20 I kept a journal, filling it with doodles, poems and my scrawl of emotions. I took a diary away with me when I went travelling to Indonesia in 2017, and I wrote in it every single day, filling it with tickets, receipts and random bits and bobs. I love reading it back. It is filled with amazing memories and very extreme emotions – it’s both hilarious and nostalgic to read back on.

I don’t keep a diary as such currently, but instead I have a journal titled ‘One Line A Day’ – pretty self explanatory stuff. I’ve been keeping it for the whole of this year and the idea is to get 5 years worth all compacted in a lil book. You can get them off Amazon and places like Urban Outfitters. It inspires thoughtful daily reflections and it’s already a keepsake record – it’s pretty cool to see the changes over the months. Imagine when I’m into my fifth year of writing it!

If you want to start a form of journaling and can’t see yourself scribbling out pages of feelings, it’s a great way to get going – it takes no time at all.

Ridding the Scariness Surrounding Job Prospects

Career ideas and life after university is something that is daunting, and it has loomed over my head for many years. I have never been a person to know what job I aspire to have, but through taking the plunge into being more proactive my mind is now racing with ideas and exciting opportunities. This is largely due to where I went yesterday, where I walked out of the building buzzing, filled to the brim with positivity, and a drive to find out more. Yesterday I got up at what felt like the crack of dawn, to venture to London for an event run alongside the School of Marketing at the Saatchi & Saatchi head office. It’s purpose was to inspire young adults into a career in marketing, and a line-up of really exciting speakers and networking opportunities were promised. It did not disappoint!

The deluxe head office of Saatchi & Saatchi oozes class with it’s modern decorum and swanky interior design. When I arrived, I was directed upstairs to a room buzzing with voices where the event was taking place. I ended up chatting to a girl who actually went to my sixth-form college, and a guy who was also from just outside of Cambridge. What a small world! Our first speaker was Richard Huntington, the Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer for the marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi. The passion he has for his job was immediately apparent. His energy filled the room and he had the whole audience engaged. The first take-away point from him was that marketing is ever-evolving, and you cannot act upon orthodoxy. He quoted the great George Orwell through stating that “orthodoxy is not thinking”, and that the best marketing is the pairing of the impossible with the relevant. I learnt how powerful marketing really can be, through his discussion of what Saatchi & Saatchi is really about. The company uses marketing to solve commercial and social problems, through changing people’s behaviour. I also took from him that the underlining factor of the agency is their belief in the unreasonable power of creativity, and it is this that initially drew me in to finding out more about a career in marketing. Richard Huntington reiterated how it is the magic of creativity that runs throughout the agency. I couldn’t possibly write about all of the striking points he discussed, but something that stuck with me was how he elaborated on how marketing was the merging of science and art. In marketing, it’s ideal to be a mix of left-brain and right-brain. Obviously both sides of your brain are actively participating in whatever you’re doing, and no one is truly left-brained or right-brained. But in regard to having a dominant side, mine is largely the right. I have a big imagination, I’m creative and artistic. Yet my left side is also very prevalent. I remember a teacher at school describing me as being too analytical and methodical. I also love organising and weirdly love planning. The other speakers also touched upon this, and it made me feel excited and assured that researching further into what it would be like to work in marketing was the right thing to do. I felt excited about a career instead of scared!

Every speaker had me listening to every word. In lectures at university I can drift off without even realising, but each one had me eagerly listening to everything they had to say throughout the whole morning. Jordan Harry’s talk on memory really stuck with me (which shows he knows what he’s talking about). He discussed the different strategies of long-term memory. An example of this is is how at the start of his talk he got everyone in the audience to shut their eyes, and if he tapped you on the shoulder you have to pitch a business idea to him and the entirety of the room. So there I was, sat second row to the front with a bright pink jumper on, thinking shit he’s going to pick me. Obviously he didn’t actually choose anyone, but through initiating that sense of panic thinking of an idea, I remember his talk pretty damn well. Marketing is a memory game, and so learning about how memory works is very important in the field. However, he also said some significant things on life in general:

  • “You will never be ready” – so if you’re waiting for the ‘right’ moment to set up your website, write a song, or apply for work experience, whatever it is, just do it!
  • Set up a LinkedIn account.
  • If you don’t ask you don’t get, the worst they can say is no. People will nearly always want you if you offer to work for free, so go and get valuable experience.
  • There is no timeline for where you should be in your life.

How to begin the search of finding a happy career…

I was now very excited about the idea of marketing, and it was the final speaker Helen Tupper who really inspired me into wanting to take charge of my career! She spoke with such clarity and presented how to go about making things happen in such a way that it gave us all the belief that we could do it. She opened with the important statement that careers aren’t linear anymore; a career is no longer like a staircase as such. It is squiggly (she has a podcast called ‘Squiggly Careers’ that I am defo going to check out, you should too). She went through the 5 things that we should invest time in:

  1. Values – This is what makes you, you. What are your motives and drives? You should make your career path decisions based on your values. Find out for yourself what these are and what is important to you.
  2. Strengths – Can you list off what you’re good at? We all sadly know our downfalls too well, and talking about what you excel in can be difficult. She suggested the site viacharacter.org to help (the results are not everything obvs) work out what your strengths are. Once you have worked out what they are, use these to start connecting these with what you want to do. Find out what aligns. As well as finding out yourself, ask others what your strengths are to work out what others think your impacts are. Start getting confident talking about what you’re good at.
  3. Confidence – This is having the authentic belief in yourself. Helen Tupper suggested that for 10 days in a row, write down 3 successes of your day before going to sleep. We do not need to write down what we could have done better; our brain automatically does this. Through doing this we will start to appreciate where we are adding value. This also links to finding out what your strengths are. I’ve been journalling for years and really believe in the power of it, but I can imagine how this positive use of reflection would be highly beneficial.
  4. Network – This is about people helping people. If you put your time in, you will always get something back in the end.
  5. Future – Explore the multiple options and be curious. Think of all the possibilities, rather than making a step by step plan.

I am going to explore the various roles in the dynamic trade of marketing, and I’m very much looking forward to my week of work experience with Cofinitive. It’s at the end of July and I’ll get the opportunity to get a real feel of the working environment within the company! It’s never too late or too early to start your research into careers, I hope you can use what I learnt from the event I attended to start finding out what you want to do!