Opening the next chapter of my life and career

Umar Hassan
5 min readOct 22, 2019
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

2019 has been the toughest year of my life for both my professional career and personal life. Being let go of your job at the start of the year, freelancing, and many opportunities going and coming by the day. In my own style, I was never going to give up or let myself be defeated.

However, I felt a burning desire to change. The last 10 months have been me working in my comfort zone and not giving myself a chance to rebuild and refocus. As the days passed by, I knew I was living in my own vicious cycle of quiet desperation until I hit rock bottom again.

It’s the second time in my life I hit rock bottom despite being extremely fit, and having a few personal projects to work on in developing my portfolio. My parents wanted me to stop these mood cycles of one day being positive, the next completely obsessing until I isolated myself from the world.

Not a healthy lifestyle in the slightest. It was time to close that chapter of my life and start a new one.

Moving into reality

Photo by Fernando Lavin on Unsplash

My previous mindset, while it got me to where I am today was in some way stunting and stagnating my growth as an individual. Being obsessed with something is healthy until it completely consumes your life to the point where you abandon yourself from the world.

That obsession was journalism. Since I was a teenager, I had wanted to pursue a career in that industry, not for the glamour and fame, but to be able to report on all things sport. I would like to think that dream will happen with time, but I ended up in the same place as I was, trying to get by as a freelancer.

It was until my mum fired me up and told me to get a job in the real world. As I’m not afraid of hard work, I took that advice on board from my parents and old university lecturers and started to rebuild my life after hitting my second rock bottom in two years by starting to apply for any job that could pay the bills.

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. — J.K. Rowling

It’s those moments when you have absolutely nothing to lose that tell you how much are you willing to go to get to your career destination. However, you must go back into reality to know about the scale of the challenge that lies ahead of you.

Going back to university…

Photo by Luke Matthews on Unsplash

The three years I spent studying my undergraduate degree at Birmingham City University were some of the best times of my life. I learned a lot about myself, as well as building up my journalism portfolio and winning awards as part of the Level Up programme at the School of Media.

I’m still in touch with some of my closest friends to this day since I graduated in 2017, as well as all of the media lecturers. I had been thinking about doing a Masters in either Data Journalism or Mobile and Multiplatform Journalism for more than a year after speaking to several alumni on my course.

While I enjoy data journalism a lot and still am picking up new skills along the way, one of my areas I would love to improve on is in broadcast journalism. It was a no-brainer that I decided to go ahead with pursuing an application for my postgraduate degree in Mobile and Multiplatform Journalism.

That decision was not an easy one, but I knew with the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) accreditation, it would help in terms of pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. I wanted to do something that would push me outside my comfort zone and challenge myself to be a better journalist.

Changing my mindset going forward

Photo by Alok Sharma on Unsplash

Things change. People change. One thing that can be absolutely important to moving your life and career forward is a change of your mindset and actions.

It’s perfectly fine to network with the same journalists who you have known for years, but engaging with real people that relate to you on a personal level is also important for developing healthy, honest relationships both professionally and personally.

Instead of playing the victim or bottling up my own thoughts and emotions, I’m going to continue improving and bettering myself. Also, I will continue to develop my social skills by learning to be more tactful, diplomatic and emotionally intelligent to people.

Fitness still plays a huge part in my life so I will continue to do 30–40 miles of running a week, along with two days spent in the gym. Eating healthily every day and getting up to 100wpm in Teeline shorthand will be important goals going forward in the short-to-medium term.

I could have easily ran away from writing this piece because I wanted to avoid talking about difficult things in my life. However, if you never pluck up the courage to talk about the challenges and issues you are facing in your life, you’ll never move forward.

In saying so, it’s time to move forward. The past is done, the present is here. How you write your future depends on the actions and changes you make to ensure you become a more rounded, honest individual. The future is unwritten so are you willing to change to be a better person?

Yes, time to get to work!



Umar Hassan

Data Journalist specialising in technology & investigations. Rock n’ roll enthusiast, recovering gamer & fitness addict.