Truth time: After my first day at YouTube Nation, I cried the entire way home while on the phone with my mum. That woman deserves a medal for all the choked up phone calls she’s had to endure over the years — but I digress. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my new work place, on the contrary, I loved my new job and all the people I was surrounded by (I still do). The tears were instead caused by the one overwhelming thought: What, at 23-years-old, could I possibly contribute to this impressive group?
My first couple months at YouTube Nation, I saw my age as a disadvantage. I was the kid trying to argue that these major YouTubers should be in our show, which on any given day, felt like I was trying to convince the room wheeled sneakers were cool again. I let my age become my kryptonite and allowed it to stop me from speaking up in meetings, owning my passions, and forgiving myself for my mistakes.
As more and more people’s videos went into the show and mine continued to stand on the sideline, I realized that if anything was going to change, it was going to have to be a change within me. And so I set out to learn everything I could and reaffirm why YouTube Nation hired this slightly awkward 23-year-old girl.
Below, I bring you five pieces of golden advice every young creative should hear, from four fearless women at the top of their career games. Each of these ladies has played a role in my development as a writer from college to now, and I hope they inspire you just as they’ve always inspired me.
1. You need to cast aside worry and fear.
Headlines and Global News reporter Maxine Wally is as badass, hardworking and hilarious as they come. Since the first time she stood up and read her work in our shared journalism class, I knew that this girl was going to change the world with her writing. Her advice: Work hard and then work harder.
“Keep your head down, work hard and don’t complain too much. Shit won’t pop off immediately, but that’s okay. Know that you can do it,” says Wally. “I’ve met a lot of great editors and writers who are women, and I often wonder how they got there. Everyone goes about their careers differently, obviously, but I think for the most part, women in positions of power in the creative world just have to assert themselves, regardless of whether they’ll be perceived as a humorless bitch or something like that. If you’re gonna pursue your dreams hard, it’s important to cast aside the worries and the fears of being seen as weak.”
2. If your mentors are always striving to learn something new, why aren’t you?
From her time at UC Irvine to NPR to now, MSNBC digital producer Traci Lee has always been passionate about pushing the boundaries of storytelling. But despite her innate talent for writing, Traci is never content being in neutral and constantly pushes herself to experiment with her work.
“I’ve had mentors and colleagues who are three times my age who constantly are learning new things and using it in their writing to better themselves,” says MSNBC digital producer Lee. “That’s the best part about being a writer: as the world changes, what you’ll write about will change too. You’re always changing as a person after all, so don’t ever think that you know everything.”
3. 98.6 percent of the time it isn’t personal.
Trying not to take edits personally has always been one of my biggest challenges. As a writer, I’ve learned that critique is necessary in order to become my work better. Mind you, some days it’s easier to remember this than others, but I often wish I could go back and tell younger Carly, it’s not you, it’s the writing! So stop wincing every time someone takes the red pen to your articles!
4. Don’t forget what drives your passion.
At the end of the day, the thing that is going to get you through the long hours and mountains of stress is going to be your passion for what you’re doing. And if there is anyone who’s going to inspire you to follow your passion, it’s freelance photographer Melly Lee.
“Everyday is a challenge whenever you’re working for yourself,” states Lee. “The benefits are that you get a chance to make what you innately love into a living and that you’re really only responsible for yourself. Working in the creative is already a long battle. Everyday I remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing and then I ask myself if I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make my dreams a reality. ”
5. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
This is the hardest and most important commandment to set into motion. People will always have opinions that are different than yours. They will disagree with you, and sometimes step on your feelings, but in the end, you never regret standing up for what you’re passionate about.
“One day, I walked up to my dear friend and mentor, crying, and I told her that I was sure I’d be fired because I felt like I couldn’t say anything right. Instead of telling me to keep quiet, she told me to be the loudest voice in the room,” says YouTube Nation Story Producer Lizzie Bassett. “She said ANY opinion is more valuable than no opinion, and that I had nothing to lose. Boy was she right. As a young woman, you can’t allow yourself to be steamrolled – you HAVE to speak up. And if you’re wrong… so what! Dudes are wrong all the time, trust me.”
^^ Try not to laugh at this, I dare you. ^^