Kaja talks about her time at Rife and what it meant to her.
Funny story, about seven months ago I nearly didn’t come to my interview for Rife.
I had spent the previous three months of my gap year horribly miserable, staying inside 90% of the time, and feeling worried that life would never improve. I had been quite unhappy at Secondary school, pretty upset at Sixth Form, and now I was miserable doing nothing too. This really worried me, as I was wondering when life would improve.
So I applied to Rife because writing is one of the few things I’ve always enjoyed doing in life. I thought a job where I was paid to write, about things I love, to help people, would be absolutely perfect. When I sent in that application, I was desperate. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything as much as I wanted this job. I couldn’t face spending the rest of my gap year inside. I wanted the chance to change my life.
The day before the interview, I was so upset. I’ve mentioned this before, that my parents had to take me on a walk to Leigh Woods to help me calm my nerves. And I spent hours crying because I didn’t think I’d get the job, and I was so scared of rejection. I didn’t think there was any point going since I didn’t think I’d be good enough to get it. But my parents convinced me to go.
I turned up the next day, looking dapper in my blue Prom suit, and I tried my best.
Word of advice here, always try something. My nan used to tell me: Kaja, if you go for something then you may not get it, sure, but if you don’t go for it then you definitely won’t. At least if you try then you have a chance. Always try in life, and then there’s no reason to have regrets. I’m so glad I tried.
So anyway, I left the interview feeling like I was in a nightmare because I was sure I’d done terribly. I remember getting home and watching TV and thinking this is it. This is my life. Miserable, never changing. Then I got a call a few hours later from Roseanna who told me I’d got the job.
“Really?!” I couldn’t believe it, I felt like I’d been injected with spirit and excitement again. I rang all my family members and screamed down the phone at them in excitement, and received similar screams in return. Apparently I was the loudest baby in the ward when I was born, and I think I channelled that excitement into being alive again when I screamed and laughed at the top of my lungs. I hate to think what the neighbours thought. But I didn’t care, because in that moment I knew my life would change and I was so exited. And I was right.
Reflecting on my experiences at Rife, the best thing about it is that it’s made me happy. It’s such a simple thing to say, but to me it means so much. After Secondary School, Sixth Form and the beginning of my gap year being a disaster, I have finally found something I enjoy. For the last six months at Rife I’ve been the most consistently happy I’ve ever been, and taking that away with me means the world. Knowing now that I can and have enjoyed life is amazing. It has been a Rife changing experience.
What have I loved about it? So many things. I’ve loved meeting people most, I think, in so many different ways. After spending a large amount of time in isolation, getting to meet inspiring, friendly, encouraging people was wonderful. It really meant the world. I remember the first big day trip we had to the Buzzfeed Offices in London, to meet three amazing Buzzfeed journalists, was when I really fell in love with Rife. Before then it had been a passionate crush, but now it was a real love.
I’ve loved meeting the Rife team.
I’ve loved meeting Barker, someone who is probably the polar opposite of me, but who I’ve ended up thinking of as my kind of insane older brother. Really like a brother – we have spent six months teasing each other, annoying each other to death, but also laughing together, singing tunes in the office, learning together and being there for each other.
I’ve loved meeting Nikesh, who is such an inspiration and who has really cared about us and our work. Roseanna, who is so, so cool and who I’ve loved talking to about so many things like Italy, travelling, and really random stuff like periods or beauty ideals. Roseanna has also taught me some things about confidence that I’ll never forget. Holly, who has been so nice to me and has helped me a few times when I have struggled, and who I’ve had lots of fun decorating cookies with on multiple occasions. I’ve loved meeting Jon, who is like the epitome of awesome, and who I’ve had so much fun laughing with, and really felt like has been a friend. I’ve loved meeting Hannah, who I ended up having some great, deep conversations with whilst waiting in A&E. I’ve loved meeting Sian, a lovely person and writer who has been mentoring me and reading my book. I have LOVED reading her comments on my book so much, and chatting to her about characters I’ve made and loved, and learning from her how to create a writing career. Zahra, who I’ve enjoyed talking Philosophy and playing boardgames with. Rosie, who’s kind and confident friendliness has been infectious. Courtney and Ellie, the cool cousins who have popped in every now and then for some hilarious conversations and real-time talk.
All of these people have talked to me like a friend and made me feel so welcome, and for someone who started with confidence issues, this has helped me in so many ways. I was worried when I’d leave they’d forget me and we wouldn’t be friends anymore, but then I met the Rife Alumni, an amazing bunch of extraordinary ex-Rife people, and realised that Rife is a family. You don’t forget family.
I’ve also loved meeting so many amazing writers, Literary Agents, book Editors, film-makers, actors, artists – so many REALLY, REALLY, REALLY cool people. Meeting them has made my dreams more realisable.
That was one of my goals when I first started here. “To make my dreams more realisable.” It sounds so corny and simple, but it is so important to me. Going through life saying you want to work in any job in the creative industry, people charitably like to warn you that you won’t make any money, that there’s no point, it’s really hard work, so few people actually make it blah blah blah, etcetera, etcetera. Honestly, this has been said to me so many times, back when I wanted to be an artist, and always when I’ve wanted to write. So coming here and being told in black and white the exact ways you publish a book, dispelling the myths of the writing industry, and options I have as a writer has been crucial to me. It’s made me feel like I can actually do this.
Oh, and I have also mastered my photoshop skills.
Thank you Rife.
Love, Kaja x
Read everything Kaja ever wrote at Rife over on her contributors page. We’ll miss you, bud.