I Will Try My Best To Come Up With A Good Title ASAP

hero leaving

Ailsa’s time for a reflection on her time at Rife.

It’s here: our last day at Rife.

It’s here: our last day at Rife. I’ve changed a lot since that first day in the office in April. But my hair has changed even more. Unfortunately not in such a way that I can conjure a neat analogy between it and what I’ve learned in the past six months though… I really should have planned that out more carefully.

As ever I am baffled by my perception of time as I look back over the summer and watch those months contract into a colourful concertina card that fits with ease into my palm. From here it looks compact, but upon closer inspection, unfolds and transforms into a long path which Aisha, Jazz and I have danced, cartwheeled, crawled, run and walked since April. It is testament to the people I’ve worked with at Rife that that path doesn’t end at today but rather leads on in an absurd number of exciting directions.

My time at Rife is at once both too small and yet too full too summarise in one piece so I’m not going to try. I’ve learned the consequences of trying to address too much in one article. (That article ends up not saying any one thing particularly well and instead becomes a many headed hydra that you will battle with for days before deciding maybe you should just get a dog instead.)

I’ve learned the consequences of trying to address too much in one article.

Though Rife has taught me many technical skills –video editing, photoshopping, using wordpress, filming and recording– the less quantifiable ones are what I want to focus on here.

Before I came to Rife I was used to doing everything by myself: I studied long distance and at home, brainstormed ideas for photography, writing and film projects alone, executed and edited them by myself and overall did very little collaborating. Being part of a team of brilliant, kind and talented individuals has been a wonderful reintroduction into working with people. Nikesh, Hannah and Roseanna’s absolute belief in young people, our talent and potential and their unwavering rule that we should be paid for our work has made a huge difference to my confidence. Six months ago I was underselling myself and my work regularly. Now, having written and filmed various pieces which I am very proud of, I am much more able to push past my squeamishness and fear of not being good enough to ask for money. And I get paid.

However, the confidence goes further than that. Having Nikesh –a person who I respect hugely as a writer but even more for his kindness and work to make the world a better place– read over my writing, editing it and liking it has been hugely affirming. Even if we’re still not fully agreed on exclamation marks’ place in prose.

We were the first all-female Rife intake but it was our shared experiences of being mixed race that bonded us together from day one.

And my Rife gals. We were the first all-female Rife intake but it was our shared experiences of being mixed race that bonded us together from day one. Add into that mix Holly, Rife Guide coordinator, and you have one killer team. Some of my favourite moments at Rife revolve around mid-afternoon deep life chats around the kettle with one, some or all of these inspirational women, most often when we had deadlines looming larger with each minute. Cheesy though it is, I love the saying friends are the family you choose and I’m so glad to have acquired three new sisters who have taught me so much and made me laugh even more. I know that we are all going to go on to do wonderful things but, more importantly, that we will support each other in doing so and in getting through all the barriers and hurdles in the meantime.

The Rife team was and is beautiful but the wider Watershed staff have also made my time here far richer than I ever could have hoped. To be surrounded by a plethora of people who are so interesting and interested is a blessing. And I have been reminded again and again throughout the six months of their kindness when my moods have dipped into depression here and there. A beautiful example of this was someone overhearing a conversation I was having with about needing to scream and quietly coming up to me a moment later to suggest that I use one of the cinemas as they are soundproofed without asking for any explanation or context. Thank you. This act is merely representative of the empathy and support I’ve received at Watershed and I will definitely not just be walking out of the door today never to return as a result.

I’m still not sure what I’m doing next (apart from finishing off my maths degree, finally) but I am sure that I have the confidence and support with which to approach the future with hope, resilience and passion as someone who can now call themselves a multidisciplinary artist, photography and writer without completely cramping up with cringe. And I will be forever thankful to the warm, inspiring people who have contributed to that surety.

Support more young people to have their voices heard

Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.

We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.

In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important. 

Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.