Public Relations

As I’ve previously mentioned, my inclination to escape the family tradition of being a teacher was strong. I was young, as far as I knew, straight, and highly motivated at the age of seventeen. Such a different person to the near forty-year old mother of five I am now. I would still describe myself as highly motivated, but my end game was a completely different one. I had something to prove – exactly what I didn’t quite know – but in my usual driven fashion, I set about making my mark.

My budding career in the media industry had potential. I had worked at radio station 4KQ for about a year and a half on a casual basis during my PR-studying days, as well as scoring a full-time contract position with a small but well-to-do PR company for a couple of months. This kind of experience at the tender age of nineteen was rare and I know I had the envy of some of my PR friends who, too, would have loved these opportunities.

Sadly these experiences ended up being wasted on me, as by the time I finished my second year of this degree, I realised all too clearly that PR was not to be the career for me.

No offence to my fellow PR enthusiasts – I have the utmost respect for all the work you do – but personally I loathe the level of corporate ‘schmoozing’ required. Possessing the subtlety of a steam train, backside-kissing is NOT my forte at all.

I can do it if I have to, but honestly, I’d rather chew nails.

Throw in my ‘Coming Out’ experience at this time and add about ten kilograms of weight gained from my year-long interlude overseas and, suddenly, any confidence I possessed when I first began, was gone. My desire to embark on a high-flying career disintegrated; with it went the appeal of hanging out amongst the movers and shakers of the media industry.

Public Relations is a profession that is not only under the pump, but also under the microscope at all times. I marvel at how friends of mine never fail to have their hair and make-up done perfectly, their eyebrows waxed and manicured, their lashes on point at all times.

It’s a good day for me if I have brushed my hair.

Public Relations is all about image and identity – neither of which I felt any control over after ‘Coming Out’. My whole life had been turned upside down, and I no longer could see my way forward. The task of forging a completely new identity was mammoth given my self-image was in pieces. I had all the pressure I could deal with already from the Richter scale-worthy shockwaves generated by my homosexual revelation. Life was not as it used to be – I felt raw and as though my outer protective layers of skin had all been seared away, leaving me exposed, aching and vulnerable.

I had made the agonisingly difficult decision to return home from the UK (even though I was very tempted to stay in hiding) purely to complete my tertiary qualification. Having worked in minimum wage situations enough whilst away, I knew I wanted to be tertiary qualified. In any field – even PR.

Thus, I did what was required to complete my degree, then set about getting the first full-time job I could get, working in the banking industry. Although not related to my current teaching career, I consider this time was very well spent. As well as meeting wonderful people, I learned a great deal of valuable financial knowledge which I find useful even now. I bought my first house at age 22 based on this experience, a decision that, to this day, rates up there as one of my best.

I have taken 39 years to reach a place where I feel confident and comfortable with who I am. I feel like people are starting to understand and respect my journey. Both are such wonderful feelings.

The irony of all this musing on my ‘redundant’ PR degree, is that I actually use my PR degree every day. Being part of a lesbian family with five children tends to draw attention. I’m constantly justifying the decisions I have made – not only for myself, but for my children.  My Rainbow Tribe has become my ‘brand’, with Lisa and I managing our family together as best we possibly can. It’s not always easy, but, it is oh so worth it.

If my reflections help even one family feel a little less isolated, I will have achieved a worthy purpose.

4 thoughts on “Public Relations

  1. This is truly one of your best ever posts Shannon.
    4KQ eh?
    That is a ‘Classic Hits and Memories’ moment to hear that name again (not that that radio station has ever really gone away..).


    1. Oh Glen I thought I was the ‘Ants Pants’ having a foot in the door there. Loved the people, the novelty of the real boardroom where the ‘magic’ of advertising and ‘creative diagnostics’ happened and the whole staff meetings to discuss the ratings results and the direction the station was headed. Classic Hits and Memories indeed. Feels like a lifetime ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s another memory for you…

    Back in 1988 I rang the Haydn Sargent and Greg Carey talkback program and from memory spoke to them something about movies.They seemed to like what I had to say and invited me off-air to do a week’s work experience at 4BC. I had just graduated with a bloody useless Arts degree from Griffith University so I did it thinking it would get my ‘foot in the door’. Unfortunately it didn’t lead to anything other than more offers of work experience at various other radio and tv stations.

    I remember as part of the work experience at 4BC one day they gave me some taxi vouchers and told me to get myself off to the State Library to check out the old newspapers stored on microfish (this is ten years before the internet) for some material for their “On this day back in history’ segment.

    Weird also how just now I Googled the name ‘Haydn Sargent’ to see how to spell it and I found out he died five years ago back in 2013. I’m always kind of shocked when I find out some time after the fact that some celebrity or other person I at one time had an interest in has passed away years before and I didn’t catch it at all at the time it happened.


    1. Just realised I didn’t reply to you sorry Glen- I read this at home surrounded by the tribe and got sidetracked, sorry! This happens more and more regularly the older I get. I cannot believe the similarities in our early working experiences. I can easily imagine another career path for you as an editorial or copywriter you know. Not surprised they tried to recruit you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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