Recently I shared a post on my Instagram celebrating getting an internship at JUSTICE. The internship had actually taken place a year prior. Why had I waited a year to share the post? Simply because I wasn’t ready to celebrate it yet.
“But Blessing!” I hear you cry, “why wouldn’t you want everyone to know about it straight away?!” The truth is that I hadn’t fully processed the achievement and the experience until around a year later when Bar school finally finished and I properly took stock of my life over the past two years.
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#TBT to my first day as an intern at JUSTICE. I had just finished the GDL and didn’t even have my results yet. I was so nervous and didn’t know if I would be smart enough. I chose this internship because when I looked at what the public law barristers had on their CV, they all had internships like these. In my application I wrote about my article on racial discrimination in police use of vehicle stop and search powers. I talked about how organisations like JUSTICE secured rights that made my experience growing up as a first generation immigrant in England what it was. I was true to myself and just believed. I made it and had one of the best summers ever. Now I’m going to spend the summer interning again, but this time in Africa. Sometimes life moves so fast you can’t even comprehend the scale of an achievement until a year later. But today I’m celebrating getting an internship at JUSTICE 🥳🍾
(Over)doing it for the Gram
It seems that in this era of social media you are expected to share every experience and everything that happens to you straight away. People also expect a serious amount of detail and personal reflection to go into what you share. For example, around this time I see a lot of tweets and posts about peoples’ graduations that explain in extremely great detail what it took to get them to the stage of graduating. I was also one of these people after graduating. Whilst I’m happy for these people, I’ve become conscious of how that’s a really big personal moment and something that they may have only given themselves about an hour or two to reflect over before sharing a post for the world.
Keeping my business to myself
Personally, I don’t necessarily need to celebrate every win straight away. There’s a big reason for this: I want time to process and contextualise the win before I can celebrate it. I was having a conversation with a friend from Bar school who was telling me that I don’t celebrate enough and it’s important for my mental health that I do. I understood what she was saying; she meant that I shouldn’t let big milestones and achievements go by without acknowledging them. She’s right, to overwork yourself to the point that you don’t even celebrate when you’ve done well is extremely unhealthy.
The thing I’m advocating for here is to celebrate those wins by yourself or with people that you love and care about before you share them with the world. Applying this strategy for the past two years at Law School has proved to work really well for me. There really is a sense that because things are so competitive, people can find themselves feeling alienated if you are celebrating wins whilst others are still processing fresh rejections or losses. Unfairly or not, you can come off as someone who is obnoxious or just lacks a bit of tact if you conduct yourself that way.
Let the wins marinate over time
Beyond providing you with a way of navigating really tough and competitive social spaces, keeping things to yourself or celebrating privately before you do so publicly can also be helpful because you need time to process and understand the impact that win or achievement had upon your life. Often at Law School, the wins and achievements are merely stepping stones and what’s followed is a period of time where you are required to perform or be in a role for a prolonged period of time. For example, had I celebrated my internship publicly before completing it I would have been speaking without knowing what was going to happen over the two month placement. At that stage, I was in no position to articulate the impact that experience had up on me. I knew nothing of the highs and lows.
Ease the pressure
The problem with wanting to speak on things straight away and go public with them is that you can actually create a massive amount of pressure for yourself. Once you’ve told the world that something incredible or amazing has been brought into your life people are going to be interested and they’re going to want to see that this incredible amazing opportunity has lived up to everything that you wanted it to (or everything that they expected it to). Don’t forget that people will also have their own perceptions of you. People are also looking at you and developing an understanding of your character. That is a massive amount of mental pressure to put yourself under before you even fully embrace something or have time to experience it.
Anything can happen. That dream job could become a nightmare. You might be a first class graduate in Engineering who decides to switch and go to Art School. You might struggle with your mental health and not be able to finish something you started. Anything can happen and keeping things close to your chest until you’re ready can be crucial to your survival.
Less outward, more inward reflection
It’s also important to remember that reflecting on your experiences and being introspective is an essential element of what’s going to help you gain pupillage or further experiences. You need to give yourself time to process and reflect before you’re able to explain the impact of things up on your life and to understand where they rank in the wider context of your life and career. On paper an achievement may seem to be a big one but then in context may end up being kind of insignificant and something you’re never going to refer to again.
Guard yourself and your mental health. Try and keep those big things to yourself and process them thoroughly before you go to the world.
Until next time,