What Do You Want to Be When You’re Older?

That’s one of the big questions I got asked growing up. Even when my world was a tiny terrace house on a gravel street and I thought childhood would never end. Even then, my family and teachers asked me “what’s your dream job”.

Growing up

When I was 5, I was laying on the living room floor, like a cat stretching in a sunbeam. I’m going to be an artist, I thought. So far, my world was full of art. Like any kid, I loved watching cartoons, painting blobs, and creating works comparable to Picasso. Everything I did involved art. I loved the idea of creating something new, and that’s all that mattered.

Then, around 8 I fell in love with music. A stack of NOW CDs sat by my bedside, and my dad’s walkman often hung on belt loop. My brother and I would snuggle in a cushion fort and use my karaoke set to host our own radio show. We’d mimic radio stations like Radio One, injecting polite banter between songs. I remember listening to the admiration of callers on the radio and wishing to have that love and excitement aimed at me.

From 9 to 12 I wanted to be a Vet. Growing up, the house was home to dogs, lizards, hamsters, guinea pigs, and a snake. They were family, and despite not knowing how to care for them, I cared about them. Then, in 2010, we lost our dog, Max. I realised part of being a Vet is putting animals down, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing that.

After that goal slipped away with reality, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My teen years were rough and filled with uncertainty. I didn’t think I had a future, so why would I dream about one?

At 15, a glimmer of hope broke through the mist. I started reading YA literature as a way to cope with stress and it became a haven. The stories and stresses of fictional characters like Katniss Everdeen, Marguerite Caine, June Iparis carved me into someone new. For the first time I felt like I had a foothold on the world, physical and digital. I started writing my own stories and created a book blog to review and discuss YA literature. At the time, this gave me some hope for the future and so I would tell everyone how I wanted to be an Author.

When reality kicked in, for real this time

At 18, I realised that becoming an Author was a long shot. At the time, I could only concentrate long enough to write snippets. My go to stories were tales of death and despaire that failed to make a ripple in the waves of Wattpad’s content. Although, I did go to university to study creative writing, my professional priority became copy writing. Here, I could mould facts into creative non-fiction works for marketing materials. I became obsessed with boosting my CV through volunteer and work experience gigs, rarely getting paid for my work. And at 19, my portfolio started to flourish, but I never got the guidance I needed to break into any industry.

At 21, a marketing agency saw my potential and offered me a role for an exploitative salary. In this role, I developed fundamental marketing skills like social media and brand management, google analytics, and content creation.

Now at 24, I’m even less sure what I want to be. I have skills in many marketing disciplines, but I only want to work with businesses that market with compassion. And, as we’re entering late stage capitalism, it’s has become increasingly difficult to find companies I can truly rally behind.

Growing up, everyone pushed the idea of having a specific career goal and gaining the professional qualifications needed to get there. But now, even a Master’s degree can’t guarantee an entry level job. While I have 1 foot on the corporate ladder, I’m stuck at entry level. No matter how hard I work, I can’t seem to progress into higher paying roles. Plus, the higher paying roles available involve people management, something I am not suited for.

No matter my position, I should be earning a living wage. There should be ample opportunity to learn new skills and volunteer for work outside of my remit. I should not be expected to place my job at the centre of my life. I should not be working full-time to have no energy or money to live an actual life. Building a career feels like a trap.

Continue reading “What Do You Want to Be When You’re Older?”

Shit, I’m Not a Woman

Disclaimer: this post explores my personal understanding and experience with gender. This may differ from yours. That’s ok.

Back in 2019, I published a blog post called “Shit, I’m a Lesbian“. At the time, I was a newly out lesbian trying to make sense of all the confusing things from my childhood that stopped me from realising that I am about as straight as a roundabout. Like how people will say: “But, you had crushes on men” Nope, all my friends did and I wanted to fit in. “You said you were bisexual” Whoops, I was wrong. Y’know, unpacking that kind of stuff.

In that post, I said:

Change happens. No your sexuality isn’t going to change at the flick of a switch: you are who you are. It’s the way you identify that changes. You realise something, admit it to yourself, accept it. Breath it in and sit with it.

And, I still stand by that. Things didn’t change overnight but as I’ve slowly carved out my own understanding of my sexuality, the topic of gender entered the ring.

Continue reading “Shit, I’m Not a Woman”

Community Street Fair

Now that the Summer is here and I am back in Lancaster, I am finding new ways to get involved in my community. As a student, it is rare to live on a street that has a community feel. Lancaster is plagued by ‘student’ streets that suffer from the constant changing of residents.

But, just a short walk away from town there are estates that house more permanent residents, including families, elderly couples, and young professionals. And, I’m fortunate to have finally found one of those streets!

Since I moved back to Lancaster in May, there has been talks about hosting a Street Fair. Arranged by key members of the community, the fair was an opportunity for residents to meet in person in an open, safe environment. After months of isolation and chatting primarily through a community Whatsapp, the street hosted a crowd of smiling faces on Sunday 27th June.

Packed with stalls selling homemade crafts, jams, and locally sourced bric brac, residents from neighbouring streets came to join in the celebration, dancing to musical performances and donating to beloved charities. Children decorated the road with chalk drawings of sunshine and rainbows, while fabric bunting hung overhead.

Continue reading “Community Street Fair”

Still Learning About Myself

One thing no one taught me growing up is just how long it would take for me to know myself.

How I wouldn’t be aware of certain aspects of myself, my personality and identity. Whether that’s being oblivious to the fact that I was a lesbian until I was 20, only just realising at 23 that I am Autistic, or knowing that it will take years for me to learn what my physical health conditions are.

I’m still learning about myself in so many ways. For years, I’ve known that I’m not neurotypical. I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety at 18 and I remember thinking, “well now I have a reason for not feeling right”. But as I explored what those labels meant, developed coping mechanisms, and started on medication, I could always feel like there was something else ‘wrong’ with me. And I want to say now, there is nothing wrong with being neurodivergent. But sometimes trying to find the right words to describe how I felt years ago is difficult, and I wasn’t aware of the right words at the time. I felt ‘wrong’ and that’s all I knew.

I’ve always felt different. The outcast, unwanted and unliked by everyone. No matter how nice I was or how much I did for people, how I changed myself to fit their tastes, people would always misunderstand me. Call me weird, cancel friendships with no notice, tell me I wasn’t doing enough when I couldn’t have tried any harder.

Continue reading “Still Learning About Myself”

Amateur Photographer Devon Louise

Over the past 3 months I have been attending Teesside University’s ‘Introduction to Photography’ Course, an online learning experience with weekly classes. Before this course, I’ve loved capturing vistas and landscapes with my phone; especially holiday highlights and views from hilltops – I mean who doesn’t? I really thought that the more I captured, the better. Particularly greenery and red bricks against sunny blue skies. The contrast of architecture and nature never fails to capture my attention.

Here’s some examples from the Champs-Élysées in Paris, Whitby Harbour, and The British Museum in London:

However, as I expand my Marketing portfolio I realise that photography is an essential skill that I’m missing – and I can’t exactly help a small business take great shots with just my phone! So, where better to begin than with an online course and a borrowed high-end camera!

Continue reading “Amateur Photographer Devon Louise”