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Glyndwr University – Creative Futures 2016

With a big smile of pride I can say I conquered one of my biggest fears yesterday – Public speaking!

TimetableWe were asked if we would like to speak at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, at an event run by the university to support its art school students. This Event – Creative Futures has been running since 2009 and i’m proud to say  that i attended the very first event they ran where i was still a student studying for my degree. Remembering how we all packed in to the William Aston lecture theatre, where we were then presented with a teabag in a folder (very strange i know), that folder and tea bag told us to take a break!

It was to make us think about taking a step back for a moment and really to think about our future, where we wanted to be as a designer. We had some wonderful speakers over those few day that really filled us full of enthusiasm and passion for the creative industries and our disciplines.

I really took on board so much information that i learnt at Creative Futures – it gave me a drive i needed to believe i can really do it, if you want to succeed you can, as these were ordinary people with years of experience behind them, they made it sound so easy as the time.

It turned out it wasn’t an easy ride at all, if fact it was far from it and after inspiring me to get my dream job, i did the last thing i expected to do, I quit the job! Yeah im not always sure it was the right  or the best decision at the time, but i made it anyway. I started to think again about what else inspired me, what else could i do?  i then went through a long process of becoming self employed and launching my own business for the first time, I took a step that i had been afraid to take. Speaking At Glyndwr

Yesterday i was stood right where those people that inspired me at creative futures in 2009 stood all those years ago, it was terrifying! I literally shook in fear! This was worse than waiting to find out my assessment results. I watched the room fill up with eager looking students, all the seats were filled.  then more students came they sat on the stairs. I was really amazed how many people had turned up to hear me speak – What if i let them down? What if they get up and walk out? what if it all goes wrong? It all started running through my mind,  At this point i am feeling my gut wrench, a horrible sick feeling and i want to run away!

But after 5 mins of watching them in a total state of fear, i started to remember how i felt when i chose my lectures at Creative Futures – I chose the ones i wanted to attend based on what i thought would inspire me and my future and the lectures that i thought would give me the right information to pursue my dreams and my end goals after university.

I realised at that moment that everyone of these students that are sat in front of me had chosen to be there themselves, because they had hope i might be able to give them an insight in to what it is really like to fight tooth and nail your way through 2 degrees and then get your dream job, realise the dream wasn’t what you had hoped it would be, leave and then to pursue my own path in life – Self-employment.

They wanted to know the real truth of how hard it is to run a business and have a young family.

The good time, the bad times, The real up and downs of being self-employed. I wish someone had told me how it would really be in Self employment when i was at Creative Futures as student, I would have still pursued my dreams the way i would of wanted to but i would have been more well informed that it wouldn’t have been a sugar coated journey. Maybe i wouldn’t have felt so down when things went wrong, i always felt i was doing something wrong – it turns out i’m just human.

I decided right at that moment that i had no choice but to suck up all that fear i currently felt and stand there in front of them, tell them all what they needed and wanted to know, but in an honest and real way – no sugar coating. I shared the ups and downs of being self-employed and how life just gets in the way but you have to learn to adapt and cope with it. It was a very emotional day for me, my voice wobbled many times, i had to hold back tears of both joy and anguish when i talked about how hard it is to deal with real problems that are not work related, like my daughter being very ill and how i feel about the way i have to juggle life and work.

It will happen your life and work are not separate when you are self employed – it is an extension of you, you will feel its pain as it will feel yours. I was close to tears at may points during the presentation whether from sharing personal failures and triumphs or just nervous about being there, I had point where i just wanted to shut down and hide under the counter, but looking back today it just shows the passion i have for my business, my family and the creative industries.

Samantha HarrisI shared with them my real reasons for being self-employed, which not many people know – and they are not financial reasons at all. For me my family means so much more than money, and self-employment means i can do a job i really love doing, work with amazing people, go to exciting places but it also means i have the time i need and want to be with my family, to be able to watch my daughter grow! You only live once choose your own path and really live it!

Its not easy to juggle family, daughter running riot in the studio and still being professional but we manage all of that every day! and i tell you now it is totally worth it and i wouldn’t change it for a second! Ok thats a little lie – No more sticky fingers on my monitor and chocolate biscuit crumbs on my seat!

After finishing the presentation i felt a massive weight lift off my shoulders as they applauded, which i really didn’t expect or felt like i deserved at all, my legs have turned to jelly and i honestly felt a little pasty, it was all over. The students who attended the lecture were amazing, they listened to me ramble and i’m grateful for that, they gave me the confidence to not run away and to face my fear. There were students who came and spoke to me after the lecture, which was really lovely, they told me how i had inspired them during the lecture and thanking me for just being honest about what it is really like being in my situation and coming from my background, they could relate to me and i felt like i had done something right.

I have never had someone tell me i have inspired them, and I was genuinely blown away with the response i received from them, and for that i am truly grateful. I was lucky enough to be supported on the day by my amazing husband and fellow director, who put up with all the tears and panic, the late and sleepless nights getting ready for the presentation, he is my right hand man and best friend, he fixes all my IT related problems both at home and for our business (including preparing my presentation as it wasn’t doing as it was told) , and my mum who has supported me regardless and been my consent rock through every stage of my career and life, supporting me in the craziest decisions, picking me up when i felt down, and when it all fell apart she was there for me, through the good times and the bad, she is the glue that held me together.

It is the support of your family and friends that will get you through the dark times, Self-employment or life – Its how you handle the bad situations that make you successful. Surround yourself with positive people, and even if you don’t feel positive yourself they are there to drive you forward along your path.

For any student studying at Glyndwr – You chose your university well, They are fantastic, they will support you through every stage you go through and even after you have left (They support their Alumni greatly – They still support me!), for those Glyndwr students who study at NWSAD you’re incredibly lucky, you have an amazing building to learn in, and you have lecturers who are the best in their field, they support you constantly, and mostly you have a university that supports your career choices through events such as Creative Futures, bring people in to speak to you and to share their experiences with you, use the opportunity to grow as a person and access all the information you can from it, grasp it with 2 hands and really embrace the experience it will set you on the best foot forward for your chosen path. Most of all Enjoy it!

I cannot recommend the services enough through the university and ZONE – you are all amazing, you supported me through so much, gave me the tools to be successful!

I hope that through this experience  i can inspire at least one student to follow their own dreams no matter of the destination or the journey they will have to take to get there. It was a really pleasure talking to all of the students at Glyndwr, i was privileged to be asked to attend.

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