how I learnt about myself from someone else

Video Transcript

Jasmyn Connell is a BCM student, but she is also the social media manager at Ultra Tune Taren Point and recently launched her own graphic design business. I am familiar with Jasmyn because I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside her as an executive in the UOW Digital Media Society.

Since she began university a few years ago, Jasmyn has completed three internships and has had three paid jobs as a social media specialist. All this has culminated in the launch of her own business before she’s even graduated. 

The turning point in Jasmyn’s career, she tells me, was her role at *REDACTED*, an online magazine start up. 

Here she worked as a social media and marketing specialist whilst balancing another social media agency job and full time study at university. 

Jasmyn describes her time at *REDACTED* as “eye-opening”. One of the greatest challenges she faced in this role were the high number of journalism tasks she was assigned to do. As someone who has never studied journalism, Jasmyn accepted these tasks with a ‘never say no’ attitude. 

Once, when she was assigned the task of writing a press release, she asked for help from the editors, reminding them that journalism was not her strength. They declined to help her so she gave it a go anyway. When she received the edits back, the editors had “ripped it to shreds” with “harsh comments.”

Jasmyn explains that in this moment she felt “so defeated” and started to cry in the middle of the office. As this happened, one of the editors walked over to her and told her that they weren’t trying to be mean. They said they wanted to help her and that she needed to “learn to seperate the work that [she does] from [herself] as a person.” They describe criticism not as an attack but as a way to produce the best piece of work possible.

This was one of the most important lessons Jasmyn learnt in her career. She describes this moment as a “positive value change” and, to this day, she holds on to the idea that “you are not your work.”

Jasmyn describes the next key event in her story of working at *REDACTED* as a “pretty big, negative one.” She reminds me that in this role, she didn’t know how to do much of what she was tasked, she tells me that she was just “learning as [she] went along.” In doing this, she became a very flexible person, “good at jumping in and doing things.” But, the downside was that she felt very stressed most of the time, repeatedly thinking “I don’t know how to do this, so [my boss is] just going to get mad at me.”

Over time, the “uncomfortable situations” kept piling up and she quit. This was no easy feat for Jasmyn. She describes how “terrified” she was of quitting for the first time, particularly because she was “scared” of her boss. She pushed herself to do it, but that isn’t the end of the story. See, Jasmyn worked as a contractor which meant that she would invoice her employer and they would then pay her later.

After three months, her boss hadn’t paid her and she had no other income to support herself since she had also quit her other paid position. She had to embark on a difficult months-long “money chasing spree” which resulted in her sending legal notices. 

What Jasmyn learnt most from this experience is that “you just have to be assertive. You have to not feel nervous about doing things for your own benefit and wellbeing.” Jasmyn tells me that this chapter in her career, “was pretty wild in terms of changing [her] whole perspective on what [she] wanted to do. It… made [her] stop just applying for every job and start researching the company to see if it would be a good fit.”

An important part of narrative reflection is the idea of ‘outsider witnessing’ (Carey & Russell 2003). An outsider witness is a third party who listens for and engages with the preferred stories and identity of a person (Carey & Russell 2003). Outsider witnessing helps an individual to draw out their preference story because a sense of “‘realness’ or ‘authenticity’ only comes when our preferred stories are witnessed and responded to by a significant audience’ (Carey & Russell 2003).

As an outsider witness to Jasmyn’s story, I noted how she developed this quiet assertion and advocacy for herself in challenging and unfamiliar situations. I also noticed how, over time, she began to develop her tenacity by having trust in herself and by pushing through the obstacles she faced. When I asked her about a value that might underlie this truth she identified the idea of “resilience.”

In regards to resilience she says she approaches new challenges focused on how she can achieve her goals with a positive mindset. She explains that “resilience has changed how I respond to feedback. It’s made me more secure in myself because I stopped… [hinging my worth] as a person on my work.”

Another value that Jasmyn identified in herself through a process of personal reflection, was the confidence to “sometimes say no” which she thinks is “more important than saying yes to everything.” This value is one that could be described as absent, but implicit, a concept developed by Michael White (2006). This idea is based upon the notion that subjugated meanings related to values and identity can be drawn from the background of a problem story (White 2006).

Equipped with the knowledge of her new values—resilience, the confidence to say no and the belief that “you are not your work”—Jasmyn has been able to re-author her career story around her preferences and ideals (Walter 2018). 

The first step in this process was hunting for a new job, but this time she was laser focused on finding “a position that was the right fit.” Her two month search, she says, was “sort of like finding a new boyfriend. I had a little checklist and if the position didn’t check off everything that I wanted, then I didn’t even apply for it.”

She eventually accepted a position at Ultra Tune. Despite being happy here, resilience still plays a major role in her career. She tells me that she has to write social media posts as if she’s a mechanic, even though she doesn’t know anything about fixing cars. Once, her boss made a joke about how she makes mistakes all the time, but Jasmyn tells me that she’s unapologetic about it because she’s “working with what [she’s] got.” She says, last year if he had said that to her she probably would have cried on the spot, now she just takes it in her stride.

When examining ideas about the future of work, Jasmyn thinks that “there’s going to be a radical shift in the idea that you have to work for most of your life, and a lot of people like [herself] are just going to work part time and have a side hustle” for extra support. She says that the pandemic has highlighted how broken the system is where an individual lives to work and “you are your work” because it has shown that there are so many more important things in life to focus on.

Within her own field, Jasmyn believes that there will be mounting demand for the recognition of the worth of social media managers. She hopes that social media managers will garner the same respect and power as today’s marketing managers do.

So concludes Jasmyn’s story of resilience and assertion at work. Like her, I found her time at *REDACTED*, as she described it, to be an “eye-opening” experience. In my own career, I will try to remember that an individual should seperate their self-worth from the work that they do, and the importance of knowing when to say no and when to back yourself.

Thank you!


References

Carey, M and Russell, S 2003 ‘Outsider-witness practices: some answers to commonly asked questions’, The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, no. 1, <https://narrativepractices.com.au/attach/pdf/Outsider_Witness_Common_Questions.pdf

Walter, IR 2018, ‘MAPS OF NARRATIVE PRACTICE: AN OVERVIEW OF EXTERNALISING AND RE-AUTHORING CONVERSATIONS’, Family Therapy Basics, viewed 29 August 2020, <https://familytherapybasics.com/blog/narrative-externalizing-reauthoring&gt;

Workshop notes, 2006, Small group intensive with Michael White, Adelaide, viewed 31 August, <https://dulwichcentre.com.au/michael-white-archive/writings-by-michael-white/>

All images are sourced from the Canva library. The license does not require credit.