It was only a few weeks ago that it had truly dawned on me that the way I worked was beginning to change and change for the better, thanks to Work.Life.
I have been at London Field’s Work.Life for just a little over three months now, and as a co-founder and Editor-in-chief of a start-up company, I’ve had multiple days when I have questioned whether I am sane or insane for embarking on this journey. I’ve never doubted the dream itself, but I’ve questioned if I should keep on working the way that I have been working since the birth of Dream Nation.
It was at the “How To Prevent Stress” workshop held at Work.Life at the end of last year, that I realised my central way of working and my core beliefs caused many of my stress related incidents. The workshop, hosted by mentor and coach Mario Christou, quickly led me to recall incidents in my recent past that should have been defining moments and wake up calls.
As I listened to my fellow Work.Life members speak openly about their stresses, I remembered a season in my life when I worked a job which I hated, whilst studying at university. It wasn’t in the media and it involved what I deemed to be unnecessary effort, yet I still took pride in doing my job properly. Because of this I was given responsibility way above my pay grade. I wasn’t entirely pleased with my unofficial promotions because it wasn’t my dream job, and one step closer to ‘the top’ felt like one step further from my dream of one day becoming the Editor-in-chief of my own publication.
I was working for a Spanish retailer in the second busiest branch in Europe, and for over a year I was in charge of ensuring merchandise was consistently up to date. This involved some creativity, quickness, a lot of paperwork, reading Spanish, some other things that haven’t made it to my current CV, and some hard labour. Physically, I don’t do well with hard labour, but I wouldn’t ever ask for an extra hand. Like I had mentioned, it wasn’t necessarily because I loved my job or (all of) my co-workers, it was because I have (or had?) a Superhero Complex.
The Superhero Complex is often widely discussed on social media, and is described as an inherent desire or compulsion to not only help others but to do so with the mistaken notion that you are an actual superhero. I must stress that re-blogged posts on Tumblr do not qualify this complex as an official disorder or disease, but there are increasing numbers of people who ‘suffer’ from it (myself being one of them).
I remember that there was a particularly busy day at this particular job and five co-workers were demanding my attention all at the same time and I responded by collapsing. I actually dropped to the floor! And with that drop, it finally dawned on me that I wasn’t an actual superhero and that I had an entire work community at my disposal ready to help with the physical and mental labour. Even Batman, an actual superhero (albeit fictional) had a sidekick and a community of people that assisted him!
I’ve recently finished binge watching Marvel’s Luke Cage (I promise no spoilers!) and I noticed that even Luke Cage in all his ‘bulletproofness’ and with his indestructible skin had a community of helpers or people who assisted him in areas his powers could not reach.
Such a community is vital and accesible to Work.Life members, and this is something I try to remind myself everyday at my current role as co-founder and Editor-in-chief at Dream Nation. There have been multiple occasions where I’ve failed to enlist the help of my team because I didn’t want to bother them too much or because I didn’t want to appear incompetent. Other times it just hadn’t dawned on me that I needed help because of the instilled belief that a women of colour in the media industry has to work three times as hard as her counterparts to actually ‘make it” – while simultaneously uphold the tradition of being a heroine.
In contrast, earlier this year, I had hired a number of additional writers and assistants to the Dream Nation team and quickly learnt the importance of community. And after joining Work.Life it became very apparent to me that communities are not only important because of the possible aid you can obtain but because they allow people to interact with each other, share experiences, develop precious relationships (both professionally and personally) and work towards a common goal.
I write all of the above as I rip the ‘S’ off of my chest.
*Rips ‘S’ off chest*
This was a guest post written by Work.Life London Fields member, Tobí Rachel Akingbadé. Tobí is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dream Nation. A Practical Dreamer with an overwhelming fondness for magazines, film, literature, lyrics, activism & social commentary.