Love, Life Stories

How I got over my post-grad fears and started doing what I love

There was a part of me that was sure I was going to fail in a non-academic environment, but weeks went by and nothing bad happened. In fact, a whole lot of great things happened.

In the summer of 2016, the Chelsea you know today as your Pop+Trends editor was a poor lost little kitten, which is to say I was a few months into living in New York City and still looking for something to do with myself. I’d decided not to pursue a PhD, but if you can believe it, there were not a lot of industries looking to hire experts in literary theory (if you are looking to pay someone to talk about postmodernism at parties I am very much available).

In January of 2016 I came home from London, having finished my Master’s and finally accepted the fact that there was just no way I was going to be able to get a work visa to stay. More than a little homesick for London, I started dipping my toe into entertainment journalism, and in June I moved to NYC with my sister.

Sweltering in the summer heat and looking furiously for something to do, I saw someone on my Facebook feed posting about fellowships at The Tempest. I knew about The Tempest, and Laila and I overlapped for a couple years at Wellesley, so we had a fair amount of friends in common. I saw that it was the last day before applications closed and considered not bothering, because surely I wouldn’t have enough time to craft a decent application.

I couldn't help but go through the application. Click To Tweet

And yet, while thinking to myself that it was probably a waste of time, I couldn’t help but go through the application and write out some answers. I couldn’t help myself, I had so much to say! The fellowship was exactly the kind of work I wanted to be doing, and what better situation to do it than with an amazing group of diverse young women?

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I somehow managed to pull it together maybe about two hours before the applications closed, but was still pleasantly surprised to actually get an interview. Laila told me about how the editorial interns do a little of everything, and I got so excited. I was really starting to fester with nothing to do but send out cover letters and was dying to do some actual work. Whether it was writing way outside my wheelhouse or learning about SEO and WordPress, or just extra copy editing, I was in. (That kind of experience is invaluable, oh young aspiring journalists, have you checked out our fellowships yet?!)

I tend to be a very anxious person who assumes that the sky is always falling, and I also live in more or less constant imposter syndrome (that was fun in grad school, I can tell you…) so it was a welcome change for me to find that not only was I capable of doing the work required of me, but I enjoyed it and felt I was good at it. There was a part of me that was sure I was going to fail in a non-academic environment, but weeks went by and nothing bad happened. In fact, a whole lot of great things happened. I wrote science articles, I learned how online journalism works from an editorial standpoint, and I never even deleted the entire website by accident!

Honestly, nothing bad happened. In fact, a whole lot of great things happened. Click To Tweet

When Laila asked me to stay on as the Pop+Trends editor I was so thrilled for the opportunity to do what I do now, which is working with so many smart young women and amplifying their stories. If you’ve worked on a piece with me before, I can tell you without seeing your name that I had fun (I hope you did too!) and it’s such a pleasure to watch an article get clearer and stronger with every draft. There are parts of writing that are very solitary, so any opportunity to work as a team is invaluable.

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I think we can all agree that media and entertainment are of vital importance to culture. The stories we tell not only speak volumes about who we are and what we care about, but they also have the power to change the greater narrative. Whether it’s a listicle on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or my Master’s dissertation on third wave feminists narratives, I take my writing on popular culture incredibly seriously. What’s more is I take your work seriously. And I want you to take yourselves seriously!

Writing can be very solitary, so any opportunity to work as a team is invaluable. Click To Tweet

Never apologize for caring about what’s on TV or what you’re reading! Don’t ever allow anyone to belittle the stories you love, and don’t let anyone give you grief because “it’s just a movie!” Our self expression is necessary and interesting and always relevant – let’s create a flood of diverse women’s voices and opinions on art and culture. I’m so grateful to be joining you in spreading the word!

Chelsea Ennen

Chelsea Ennen

Pop+Trends Editor Chelsea Ennen is a New York City based writer and recovering academic with an MA in contemporary literature, theory, and culture from King's College London. Her nonfiction writing has been published on The Mary Sue, HelloGiggles and The Female Gaze, and her dissertation on postfeminism versus third wave feminism in contemporary pop culture was accepted for presentation at the 2016 Indiana University of Pennsylvania English Graduate Organization Inter-Disciplinary Conference. She is the fiction editor of the Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal and a novelist who would very much like to pet your dog, please.

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