23 Sep Why I started my podcast : On The Irregular with Java Bere
In March this year I reached out to a list of twelve women. I knew some of them in person, and some of them purely online. I asked them if they would be interested in talking to me about their creative path for a podcast idea I had. The one thing they all had in common? An irregular creative journey.
To my absolute joy and delight, they agreed. Over the space of three months I spent hours on zoom, talking to some of the most fascinating, inspiring, energising women I have ever had the privilege of talking to.
They shared their stories with me: where they had come from, what growing up was like for them, the hopes and dreams they had dared to have for the future, their fears and insecurities, their firework revelations and their slow burns. Many of them I had never met in person, a few are close friends. They were all people I admired and would happily spend an afternoon’s stroll with and listen to their thoughts.
Every single person I talked to beamed warmth through their voice and generosity in sharing. I felt honoured to listen and be able to ask questions.
There was one constant feeling I took away from every conversation: I felt less alone.
And this was exactly where the idea was born from. Finding community. Over a year ago, I shared my creative story on instagram and received an overwhelming response from other women who felt lost, confused and worried they had ‘missed the boat’. I had shared my story through a sense of shame that I hadn’t started working as an illustrator until I hit my mid thirties and had never formally trained. I was guided in my drawing by my mum, my grandmother and my taid as a child and then as I grew up I simply continued to draw, and taught myself. I felt embarrassed to admit this and worried people would think I was a fraud.
Who was I to assign myself the title of illustrator? Who was I to think I could do this as a job? Even though I was doing it, and earning a living from it, I felt like I was hiding a dirty secret. And so, as I tend to do, I bared my soul to try and get over the shame.
And thank god I did. I received so many messages and emails from women feeling similarly about their work, feeling like they wanted to give something a go but worried it was too late, women offering wisdom and support, women feeling they had just hit their stride after a lifetime of feeling lost.
It was deeply comforting and made me realise that I was one of many. There was no need to feel shame, in fact, there was reason to celebrate and cheer myself and others on. Despite being brought up by a mother who had always worked for herself doing whatever idea she had that year, I had internalised the myth that we find one route, we stick with it, and if we don’t, it means we have failed.
There’s no two ways about it friends, it’s utter b*******.
If we are lucky, our lives are long and we will have several careers in one lifetime. And if you have the time, the access and the money to go to university for a change in career, then fantastic, enjoy it! If there is another way, such as teaching yourself through workshops, reading, shadowing professionals… then do that and enjoy that too! (I obviously would not recommend this if you’re thinking you’d like to become a doctor. Definitely go back to uni for that.)
And so, after sharing my story, a whole world opened up for me. I started seeking out women who had changed careers, or who had trained in one area and then ended up pivoting. I found comfort in knowing that others had done the same and found fulfillment and a way of generating an income.
For years I had been wracking my brains, wondering what I could record a podcast about. In my early twenties I had co-presented a show on local Manchester radio and then entered an internship at BBC Manchester. It was my chosen path until until theatre hijacked my life and lured me down the nocturnal alley of bright stages and dark auditoriums. Podcasts felt like a possible option, but I wanted to find a solid theme.
And thankfully, through being honest about my own journey and people reaching out to me, I found it. If I loved hearing these stories, surely others would feel the same way too?
So, in May I sent out a flurry of emails to women I wanted to talk to, by June I was recording our conversations, and by September I has published our first chat.
I will say, with my hand on my heart and my eyes welling up like I’m Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2010 Oscars, that this project has been one of the most fulfilling and reading endeavors I have ever embarked on. I am so proud and thankful. I am thankful to everyone who agreed to talk to me, I am thankful to grandparents for looking after the kids this summer so I could do endless rough edits, I am thankful to my friend Mush who came up with the title, I am thankful to Jon for creating the music and doing the final edit, I am thankful for every single person taking the time to listen/review and send me messages about it. And I am bloody proud of myself that I had an idea and brought it to fruition.
So there you go, there’s my Oscars speech.
Thank you for listening.
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