Not gon’ lie, the days are filling me with dread at the moment. In just over two weeks, I’m moving down to London to start an internship with one of my most-read magazines of all time at my favourite publisher which I continually dream of wanting to work for on the daily. Me – ha – will be interning at Cosmopolitan. And instead of being excited about the very thing I never thought I’d be able to get an internship for, I’m actually terrified. Like, I feel sick when I think about it. And I keep getting this niggling feeling of dread in my subconscious at the moment. Why? Because I actually have an issue with self-belief, confidence and being proud of any achievement. I continually think I’m not good enough for things, I catastrophise about the ‘worst thing’ that could happen whilst trying to impress in one of the most renowned magazine offices in the country and I’m already thinking about how I won’t measure up to every intern that’s gone through Cosmo’s doors. So all in all, feeling great about it.
Nerves are natural – and nerves can be good. They can be the necessary burst of adrenaline to keep you on your toes and motivated to work hard. But when nerves turn into bad nerves is when you begin second-guessing your ability, your deserving place on said internship and then in turn retreat into your shell when you could be putting yourself out there and embracing the opportunity. So in an attempt to 1) write down my feelings and hope they disperse with every word I type and 2) honestly, openly talk about these irritating insecurities I’m sure a lot of us have, I’m going to put myself out there and admit every little insecurity I have about the impending weeks to maybe make us all open up a bit more about our worries. Maybe if we all gave each other a little pat on the back and a “oh my Godddd, same, I totally feel the same as you” we’d be a little less insecure.
So, here goes:
1) I’m just ‘okay’ at the things I really try hard to be good at
No matter how much I push myself or try to achieve, I always think I’m just ‘okay’ at things. No matter how many blog articles I write and expose myself to, no matter how much I get used to my role at work, I always feel like I’m just ‘okay’ at things. I know I work so so hard and this is something I can give myself a pat on the back for, but that’s the extent of where my confidence leads me. As for the work I actually produce? I constantly think it’s never quite good enough to be memorable. And that lack of confidence means I find it so hard to believe in myself or allow others to believe in me.
2) I’m not going to get the balance between knowing my place and putting myself out there enough
When you’re an intern, it’s really hard. You’re there to expose yourself to the wonderful world of this new career, but at the same time it’s about doing the dirty work the other journos may not quite want to do, or have enough time to do. No task is too menial for me, and I’m more than happy to do whatever I can get my hands on whilst interning, as it’s all incredibly good at building my understanding of the world of journalism. However, it is good to go in with a game plan of what you want to get out of the internship, so you can come away with maybe some hands-on shoot experience, or perhaps a byline! But I find it SO hard to ask for these things and get myself out there. I know there’s no harm in asking, but I often don’t ask for fear of what others might think of me. I know I’m just an intern and I want them to know that I do know my place. But I also want the chance to put myself out there for exciting opportunities and make the most of my experience there – but then I often stop myself asking and so the viscous circle goes.
3) I’m going to do something ground-swallowingly embarrassing
I don’t even want to think about what the ground-swallowing situation could be, in case I write it into existence come March, but I always have this niggling fear that something terrifyingly embarrassing might happen to me when I’m trying to impress journalists I’ve literally looked up to for years. Ugh.
4) I’m never going to measure up to the interns that have walked through Cosmo’s doors before
Cosmopolitan Magazine does not have a week of the year where there isn’t an intern in their office. Thousands of people beg for unpaid work experience in Hearst’s offices every year. So, the pressure to become not just ‘another intern’ and to somehow leave some lasting mark is tremendously huge. Not to mention as you’re sat at your desk doing the research task that was set for the intern last week before you, it’s incredibly hard not to conjure up an image of this anonymised stranger in your head just to compare yourself to them and destroy the little sense of self belief you may already have. Comparison is the thief of joy, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, and Theodore was speaking to the very essence of my soul, because I feel SEEN with that quote, oh yes.
5) I won’t make the most of my time there because I’m not confident enough to speak up
I have a real issue with not being able to just say things that come to me. With just being that cool, open conversationalist that makes everyone feel at ease instantly and always has something fun to say. I’ve lost count of the amount of times in my life where I’ve not spoken something that’s been on my mind for fear of it not being interesting/clever enough, just to have the person next to me say that exact thing two minutes later. I so badly just want to be casual and speak my mind or offer a suggestion, but often my mouth clams up before my brain realises. It’s all fun and games.
And now, for sheer desperate want of A) trying to get rid of this disgusting feeling of dread that keeps washing over me on the daily and B) to be kinder to myself and realise that I am me and that is just fine (not quite sure I feel this yet but as a writer who likes trying to help people with words, this is what I’d be telling you to do in this situation) – I’m going to turn these insecurities into an advantage I can utilise whilst I’m at Cosmo. Or I’m going to try, at least. Here’s trying:
1) It’s good to not feel like you’re the damn best thing to walk the planet – you’re receptive to learning, adapting and taking all the advice you can from others
I think being gracious and willing to learn all you can as an intern is a true marker of dedication and passion for the career you want to get into. I really do hope it’s appreciated that I may not be wholly confident, but I’m willing and excited to learn everything I can. And often, what you’re feeling in your head isn’t actually shown on the outside as much as you may think – so let’s hope when I’m having an internal counselling session with the negative voice in my head, I’ll appear somewhat calm and normal to the journos around me.
2) You don’t have to worry about coming across as ‘above’ your station
I mean, I guess it’s best to be an intern that knows their place, might be a little timid but works hard to get any task big or small done – and not an intern that believes being given someone’s coffee run is ‘above’ them. I have genuinely been told by another journalist once that a keen intern turned sour when asked to go on a coffee run, and refused to get the editor of the magazine her brew. That’s an instant win to get in their bad books – and I guess when you’re as unconfident as me, there’s no chance of piping up and saying something’s ‘above’ you. Literally nothing’s above me. I will do anything for your approval. Lol.
3) If you do something embarrassing, they might take sympathy on your poor, little interned self and want to mentor you to becoming a normally-functioning human
When I’m having nightmare daydreams about anything catastrophically embarrasing that could befall me during the internship, I like to try and imagine the journos taking pity on me and, whilst feeling sorry for me, choose to offer me help and advice along my way there. It’s a nice thought to counteract the scary ones! All else fails, at least you’ll be memorable.
4) You’re YOU! You’re not supposed to sit on a scale with other people. And who cares, they get so many interns through the door they probs remember none of you anyway lol
You literally can’t compare and shouldn’t compare every person that goes through the magazine office’s doors. We’re all special and unique in our own way and we all have different strengths. I know this to be true, yet it’s one thing knowing it to be true and applying it to your own life and experience. And if I don’t quite get there on the self belief when I start my internship in 2 weeks, at least I have the terrifying yet comforting thought that they see so many interns through the doors, we must all blur into one big eager to please intern-shaped mess anyway.
5) Remember to challenge yourself to put yourself out there, but take the self-care approach and take it easy on days where you’re feeling out of your depth
Back last April, I did my last internship with Hearst Magazine’s Branded Content Studio department. I was equally terrified then (my heart rate was a resting 120bpm during that period hilariously) but I did really try and grasp the opportunity with both *shaking* hands. I threw myself into a shoot opportunity, learning how to be a Production Assistant. I got a byline for Elle Decoration magazine! Two things I thought were impossible throughout the entire process (literally, whilst I was on the shoot my whole being was telling me to leave because I clearly wasn’t supposed to be there – and even when I read my article online I didn’t feel like I deserved it) but I did them! So I’m taking that as a learning to put myself out there more – and I’m also going to listen to my gut when I need to take it a little easier.
Self belief is a funny thing. I do know some people who are gifted with oodles of it – and that’s wonderful, but often there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. And for those of us not gifted with the honour of having much self belief, we can’t change who we are. We’ve just got to learn that it’s okay to be kind to ourselves, and it’s okay to be, God forbid, proud of ourselves! It’s even, heck, great to feel happy with our achievements! It’s time we cut ourselves some slack.