I don’t know why I struggled so much with this writing challenge, as I am always collecting quotations that inspire me.
However, when I think about the best advice I’ve ever received, the line that kept coming to mind was: ‘You’ll never know unless you try.’ My mum says it a lot, and it’s a good lesson.
First and foremost, this little nugget of wisdom makes me think of my career path. When I was sixteen years old, I dismissed publishing as an industry that was too difficult for me to aim to work in. I had always loved books, read a lot, and tried to write my own, but when I was choosing courses at university, I never truly considered publishing. I knew it was incredibly difficult to get a job in the industry, but it also felt like a very distant lifestyle. It was designed for people who had grown up in London, who could afford to work freely, who knew the right people… not for girls from little towns in Scotland.
Still, I added a publishing course to my choices, and I got in, but I decided to stick with languages. Four years and a degree later, and I was still unconvinced about what I wanted to do – or still wasn’t brave enough to veer away from the path I had set myself on.
I spent a year in France before I thought again about publishing, and suddenly it didn’t seem so far removed from the realms of possibility anymore. I was now open to the idea of living in London. Plus, I now had some self-belief. People work in publishing, fact; therefore, I just had to make sure I was one of them!
I went back to studying, something I had sworn I wouldn’t do. Another year passed. It was time for the job hunt, and suddenly I was faced with the reality of trying to get into the industry; it really was difficult, and my confidence was knocked again. I had qualifications and experience, and still couldn’t get an interview.
After yet another year of working six days a week, doing internships alongside my paid work, after applying for around 150 jobs, I had had enough. There was one thing I hadn’t yet tried – moving to London. I had a feeling that my address might be putting employers off; if they had people with similar skills in the city, why would they invite me down from Scotland? I used the money I’d saved over the previous year to fund two months in London, and, just in time, I got a publishing job. A really brilliant job.
It might have taken almost ten years for my thoughts, skills, qualifications and luck to line up, but I have ended up with the career that I wasn’t sure was for people like me. I am so glad I gave it a try.
That is why I like this piece of advice. There’s nothing pushy about it; it is still very much your decision whether you act or not. It’s realistic, as there’s always the possibility that you might not get what you want. Yet… you’ll never know unless you try.