In 2005 when I was only a year or so into my journalism career, I decided to take the plunge and move from Birmingham where I’d been at university to London to try my luck in the metropolis.
The plan was to get a job at one of the classier men’s magazines – Arena, GQ or Esquire – but I quickly found that almost every 20 something guy in the country had thought of the same idea.
I spent about nine months living in Brixton in South London, getting rejected from Arena, doing a post graduate diploma and applying for every half decent job that came up.
I got more and more desperate until I came across a competition being run by a trade paper called the Press Gazette, where they were looking for the best young cadet journalist. The winner would get a year’s contract working for them as a reporter.
Having not had a job for almost a year, even a long shot competition like this looked like a good option.
Over 100 people applied and I made it to the final 12. We all got to compete in an Apprentice style contest that went for about a month with tasks at different media companies. We did shifts at Time Out magazine, played at being news editor at ITV News and wrote feature articles for the Daily Mirror. Each week, more and more contestants were eliminated.
It got to the final week and I couldn’t believe I was still in it, with two other people. The final task pushed all of us all out of our comfort zones, putting us in front of the camera reading the news off an autocue at the offices at the Press Association.
Then everything went a bit weird and dreamlike as I was crowned the winner. The judges even said: “Rory loves the camera and the camera loves Rory.”
This was the first thing I’d won since breaking my school high jump record in the sixth form and I was delighted.
I was offered the job as a junior reporter for the paper, with a 12 month contract and the possibility of permanent employment.
But, as the world rarely makes things straightforward, another job opportunity presented itself at the same time, leaving me with a dilemma.
During the competition, I’d taken a couple of casual shifts working for Channel 4’s music department on their website, a gig I’d only got as a consolation prize for almost but not quite getting a job at Esquire magazine.
I loved Channel 4 at the time and working in music was a dream come true.
It was only two weeks’ cover for someone who was off sick, but then they offered me two months’ work.
Here was my choice – take the guaranteed 12-month contract working for the industry paper or gamble it all on a short contract working in music.
The fact I’d had a roller coaster ride through the competition to even get offered the first job made it hard to give up – but on the other side was working in music, my biggest passion since I was a teenager.
My head – and all my sensible friends – said to take the guaranteed job.
But my heart said to go with music.
I’d always been a logical and pragmatic person, so it was a surprise even to me when I heard myself turning down the year long contract and instead opting for the sick cover role.
I needn’t have worried though, as everything worked out in the end.
My gamble paid off and the role became permanent. I worked there for the next three years, going to gigs, interviewing bands and earning a living writing about music.
It was a great lesson for me in following my gut instinct – or “following charm” as we call it in Vedic Meditation. “Follow charm fearlessly” is one of the key Vedic directives to meditators.
The mind is great tool for ratifying and justifying decisions, but it’s no good at making them. There are too many variables in big life decisions for the mind to compute, but our gut, our intuition has a much better idea. All we have to do is follow charm.
Although I wasn’t a meditator at the time, I let myself follow my gut.
Since I started meditating, I’ve learned to trust my gut more. By meditating every day, I clear out the stress that usually hides my intuition and makes me fall back on more primitive ego-based wants and needs – like excessive need for comfort or being greedy.
I’ve learned to listen to the gentle promptings of my higher self more and am enjoying the results.