University reflection piece: My time at Shades of Noir

I started working for Shades of Noir in November, as I’m writing this now it is now the end of May. My times at Shades of Noir has introduced me to new important terms, new groups of people, new ways of life and new ways of looking at things. Before my time at Shades of Noir, I wouldn’t have been aware of the most of the things I am now. Shades has enabled me to grow both mentally and professionally, arguably even more than I could have on my own university course. It continues to give me confidence in my writing, that my university course seemed to be slowly stripping away from me, all whilst letting me still be me: a young black man growing up in London. Shades has never made me write a certain way or act a certain way, they simply let me be and grow in my own way.

Highlights wise, I think it’s the people I’ve met through Shades and our team that I cherish the most. Contrary to what some who know me may think I’m not a very sociable person and I don’t really get out much, but through Shades, I’ve been able to make friends that I wouldn’t have met without. I thoroughly enjoy our team moments where we catch up and just simply talk. Everyone in the team is very wise and they’re all generally just nice people so I always enjoy being in their company.

My time at Shades, albeit not finished, has been like a rollercoaster ride. When I started working for Shades, alongside studying at university, there were times where I felt the stress from both responsibilities would collide and bring my mental health to its limits. Now that I’ve (in my opinion) grown more as a person, I realise that the problems and stress I had were mainly due to me lacking in certain areas, such as time management and organisation skills. Also the fact that this was my first real job in the creative industry that involved me producing pieces of writing that people would actually see, it took time for me to get used to being outside of my comfort zone and building up enough confidence to comfortably create pieces of work each week. Since the start of my time at Shades, through continuous reinforcement, so just continuously writing and watching and learning from the others in our team, I think that I am now able to handle situations where in the past I would feel stressed a lot better by preparing in advance for times where I would feel increased stress, such as deadlines days.

In only 7 months with Shades, I’ve accomplished quite a lot of feats that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do for quite some time. All feats which I’m insanely proud of. Most of the things I’ve accomplished through Shades aren’t really things that I would’ve willingly gone out and tried to do before I joined the team, due to maybe laziness or lack of confidence. Since joining the team: I’ve produced a piece of work literally every week, help create a TOR, led an event and run and record our podcast. I think the achievement I’m probably most proud of is when I chaired one of our events, although I probably wasn’t the best chair and I think a couple of the guests can vouch for that, it still was a very big feat for me as public speaking and having all that attention on me isn’t really something I’m comfortable with. It’s something I’ve always been a bit scared of since secondary school and college, so completing it was very important for me.

In such a short time I’ve been able to do so much, all whilst still studying, which a lot of people in my situation wouldn’t have had a chance to do. I’ve been able to get so much real world experience and I’m still only in my second year of University. At times I may take it for granted but through Shades, I’ve been given a great opportunity to really find myself and become successful. I’m very thankful that I’ve been given this opportunity and I’m excited to see how Shades will shape and change me further.