Sonia Said: I (don't) know how to lead my own life
By Sonia Hadj Said
You know that moment when someone asks something about your life only to have them throw their opinion at you, unasked and unwanted? The most interesting thing is, these tend to be not the people closest to you, but those who don't really know you. Someone you work with or haven't seen in a long time. Why? It's the simplest thing in the world, you see, to make assumptions. About you, your life, your work, your situation. Everything looks easier from a distance, mostly because it isn't true.
I've been in this situation for longer than I could wish for. Finding myself after a course and searching for that first and most important step in the journalism world, I already feel the impossible pressure of the competition, finding the right position, finding that it's difficult to get any position at all. Sending so many CVs a day that I had to go back to wearing glasses all the time, feeling unaccomplished every single minute the inbox stares at me with its disgusting "0 new messages" and reaching another level of depressed with yet another rejection. See, the pressure coming from myself is more than enough. Pressure coming from parents, even if there is none, is in my head. Pressure from close friends that doesn't exist, because friends know you and believe in you more than anyone probably, doesn't exist, but is still there. When pressure reaches this level of ridiculous, you do not need the extra help from outside. Still, you often get it anyway.
"Everything looks easier from a distance, mostly because it isn't true"
Sometime this week, I left the gym after almost an hour, sweat dripping off me way more than it should, just because I told myself I wouldn't stop running unless I stopped feeling shitty and sorry for myself. The moment came, the endorphins kicked in and I was free to go home, cleansed from all the fucks and shits and "I wanna die's" when a new pressure smiled and asked how I was and how was the job hunt. And from there it all went downhill so much, I should've gone back to the gym for another 5km therapy. I was asked why don't I do work experience (I’ve already done plenty), why don't I start a blog (I have a magazine), did I think about doing a YouTube channel (let me keep some of my dignity). It then even got to the level where my life choices were questioned ("why did you choose such a difficult industry then?" "Because I love it." "Don't complain then").
I didn't complain, I merely tried to answer a question that ended in a long monologue from the other side. This has happened to me so many times that I should be better at letting it go. What I have learned is that you don't need to explain yourself to someone who doesn't even know you because you don't owe it to them. I could have said: "it's just really difficult, I have sent so many applications, but the industry is competitive. Yes I started a blog, a magazine even, for other people like me. I worked for many magazines, but there are not that many jobs in good magazines, almost none in fact, and I still have to support myself. I chose this because I love it and because this is what I want to do with my life."
This sounds pathetic. This would make me doubt myself as a person because all I needed to say was: "I don't really have time to explain my life as well as the way this world works to you and I don't appreciate being told what to do with my life."
I didn't say that either, I'm too respectful to older people and to people I don't know well. I nodded, acknowledging the pressure, but as I left the room I felt her still there. So don't let people do this to you, I'm sure you put enough pressure on yourself. And try not to simplify anyone's life. A sentence starting with "I don't really know much about it, but..." might change everything and it's just nice not to assume you know better how someone else should lead their own life.