Re-membering: The commonly used therapeutic practice that provides “opportunities for people to re-engage with experiences of their life which would otherwise remain neglected.” (Russell & Carey, 2000).
For the past year and a half I have been working with AUD’$, a Hip-hop music publication based in Melbourne, Australia. Reflecting back on when I first started, it was a massive change to the journalistic work that I was used to producing. At the time, I was starting my second year studying a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Communications & Media, so I felt as though I had this pre-conceived, stagnant and somewhat outdated and vague understanding of journalism.
Working with the small team at AUD’$, I began to develop a better understanding of my writing and the nuanced future and flexibility of journalism in the Australian music industry. While this isn’t the main change I’ll be detailing in this narrative reflection, I think it’s important to note that this was the first time I noticed the difference between what I was told working in journalism was like to what it actually entailed.
Prior to spending nine weeks stuck inside my house for lockdown, I was able to visit the AUD’$ team at our studio and office space in Melbourne. On my first day physically working alongside them, we started with a morning debrief where we outline our individual and group objectives for the day/week, say something we’re grateful for or that we recently learnt, and check on everyone’s mental health and personal life. Before this, all of the journalistic work I had done was online and, although we compromised with Zoom meetings, texts and calls, there lacked that physically energy you get when face to face. Starting my morning of work like this really aligned with my constant to-do lists and monthly planners, but also made time and space to talk about important topics like mental health which is something I forget to check on when working independently. Experiencing that change from isolated and independent online work to more interpersonal and physical work is the main change that I’d like to connect to narrative self-development in relation to my professional values.
Michael White’s theory of the ‘absent but implicit’ refers to the meaning we take from experiences, through the comparison and contrast of previous experiences (Carey, 2000). This approach to narrative storytelling allows individuals to reflect on the stories we retell to uncover its deeper and unspoken personal value and meaning. Instead of focusing on the problems, failures or pain of an experience, individuals are able to enter a gateway to the realm of experience where “people’s most cherished hopes, aspirations, and commitments live and breathe,” (Freedman, 2020).
Through this lens of narrative storytelling thinking, I can understand that I value the flexibility that working by distance provides me, however, physically interacting with co-workers and clients is an invaluable experience that cannot be replicated online. Another value that I think I highlighted in my story is the importance of community and family building in a workplace. AUD’$ is a relatively small team so it’s easier to build this rapport, but it’s still something I value highly. Allocating time to interact as friends instead of co-workers and providing a platform to discuss our personal well-being created a welcoming, motivating and comfortable environment for me to work in, and hopefully will continue to do so for years to come.
Reflecting back, I can now acknowledge a time when I demonstrated the importance of these values to me in a professional setting. About two months ago, I received a job offer from one of the biggest companies within my field. The reason I chose to decline the role was because I value the experiences I’ve had at AUD’$ and despite the pros to accepting this job, it didn’t align with my professional values.
The process of self-reflection through Michael White’s work has enabled me to understand the importance of storytelling in learning the discussed and implied values of ourselves and others. In regards to my future of work, having an enriched understanding of my professional values has provided me with a clearer roadmap to my career and has proved vital in achieving a deepened sense of professional identity and a balance between a healthy mental well-being and a rewarding and fulfilling career (Carey, 2002).