Hi, friends!

 
 
Image item

 

What does an average day look like for you?

Well, as I said, I’m a full-time uni student, in my final year of a Bachelor of Arts/International Studies Degree, at the University of Wollongong, so an average day looks a lot like taking classes, doing readings, and working on assignments! But career-wise, an average day can hold anything from working on writing, promoting my campaign asking Disney to create a Disabled Disney Princess (sign here!!!) doing interviews or podcasts, or working as an advocate in a consulting capacity on a number of different committees, initiatives and research projects! Not to mention all the appointments, therapies and other things that come with trying to live your best life, and keeping things maintained when you’re disabled. It can be like having a full-time job with no pay or breaks, living in this body, so life is busy!
 

What advice do you have for striking a work/life balance?

I’m still very much figuring this out, and I definitely don’t always get it right, especially because the pace of work at the moment is still fairly new to me, BUT some strategies that work for me are:

  • Using the calendar app on my iPhone to lay everything out clearly so I can see exactly what I’ve committed to and when.
  • Giving myself a good old-fashioned To-Do List because there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of crossing something off and being able to SEE what you’ve accomplished.
  • Not being afraid to say ‘No’ (still working on this one) to things that don’t excite me/motivate me/I just can’t fit in.
Image item

What anxieties, if any, do you hold about your life/career? And how do you deal with them?

Oh man, so many! I, unfortunately, have this niggling thing at the back of my brain called Imposter Syndrome, which likes to loudly interrupt any achievement or success and tell me that at any moment, someone’s going to come up behind me, tap me on the shoulder and say, “OK, Hannah—time to wake up now!” And I think that comes from living in a world that isn’t built for me; as a person with a disability, the idea that I don’t fit in or that I don’t deserve a seat at the table and that my success could very easily disappear if I don’t make the most of it. To deal with that, I try to be transparent about the fact that I have those anxieties, and I also try to work as hard as I can, while the window of opportunity is open, because I really want this—the work that I’m doing now—to last as long as I can.

How do you deal with procrastination?

Will you hate me if I say I don’t really procrastinate? Maybe it’s just a side-effect of having high-functioning anxiety that never lets you come close to missing a deadline. Sometimes though, that means I get really overwhelmed when I’ve got a lot going on, and that can be sort of paralysing, so often I have to remind myself to breathe and ‘eat the elephant one bite at a time.’

 

When working on a new project, how do you overcome self-doubt and fear?

I remind myself that being nervous is a good thing—it shows you care! If you’re not nervous when you’re putting something out into the world, then that’s when you have a problem. Some incredible things have happened to me in my life because I just jumped and took a leap of faith, surprisingly without overthinking too much what would happen when I landed. Nothing can be lost if you put yourself out there—there’s kind of the potential for anything and everything to be gained.

 

Image item

Do you have any rituals that help with your work or mental health?

I don’t know if these are rituals, so much as steps I take to look after myself, but I make sure I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired—all that sort of stuff. I know that all sounds super obvious, but as someone whose body and brain deals with pretty significant and life-impacting pain, fatigue and mental illness, I’ve learnt that listening to my body and pacing myself is really important. So is getting exercise, fresh air, hanging with my family and doing things that switch my brain off once in a while.

Can you recommend any resources that have helped you in your career?

Following the Twitter hashtag #callforpitches, using various publication’s pitch guidelines (readily available online most of the time), being aware of who writers and editors are—social media’s your best friend here!!! I’ve also joined FB groups relevant to writing and working in media, like Young Australian Writers and so many others

 

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice is probably that stuff I mentioned earlier about nerves being a sign of care and also, as cliché as it sounds, to not be afraid to let people know me and present myself as I am, even, and especially, if that means being honest about a bad day, or my insecurities or pain, you know?  In terms of worst advice, I think every not-so-great situation I’ve found myself in has come from being made to feel like I should ignore my gut instincts.

Are there any misconceptions about what you do that you’d like to dispel or clarify?

Probably just that it’s easy and that it doesn’t take a lot of work. That’s definitely not true! Being your own boss is exhausting, and for all of the things I do that go well, there are so many behind the scenes that don’t work out or don’t catch people’s attention in the way I’d have liked them to.

 

Also, I think it’s important for people to realise that a lot of advocacy work goes unpaid unless you start building up a reputation and have the means to charge fees without that being a deterrent for people wanting to amplify your voice. There’s also a lot of unrecognised emotional labour that goes with being an advocate—especially, by virtue of our work, we’re being vulnerable, personal and opening ourselves up to a constant stream of dialogue.

 

How do you navigate social media, any rules or guidelines you set for yourself?

As someone in my early twenties who has found that my activism resonates best on social media, I use it a lot! Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and most recently, TikTok are my platforms of choice. I think the rules I try to follow are: responding to everyone but ignoring the haters, being unafraid of honesty, rawness and working not to feel like I have to censor myself. I also make it a rule only to follow accounts that make me feel good, people I’m empowered by or am curious about in a positive way.

Image item

If you could distil it down to three key messages, what do you hope people learn/take away from what you do?

1) Disabled people deserve rich and full lives, where they are seen as individuals with passions/desires/needs/hobbies. Representation matters. We are not one dimensional; we cannot be reduced to just our disabilities

 

2) No matter who you are or what you have to deal with in life, you have value, and you deserve to feel worthy.

 

3) Life’s too short not to go after what YOU want. We only get one go at this thing, so we might as well make it count. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s life has to be big and world-changing. What matters is being content and feeling fulfilled; it doesn’t matter what that looks like.

 

L+A xx

Image item
Image item

 
Image item
 
 
 
 

Find more content over on our Instagram and Pinterest ↓

Instagram
Pinterest
Image item