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The First Walk

One of the big things I missed last year was a promise I’d made in 2019. Tick the emigration box and allow myself to be utterly insufferable to friends back home. Send photos from Kitsilano and unironically use words like microdose. But that’s all fine. Life has figured itself out with a new trajectory. My friends will just have to get used to Collingwood and barrack in 2022 though.

One of the small things I missed surprised me: the ICADs. Why surprised? Frankly the whole experience still sort of terrifies me. Imposter Syndrome has no better bedfellow than being surrounded by lots and lots of people who look like they belong there. Who aren’t looking in from the edge of one big conversation. The thing that helped me in 2019 though was a rite of passage: the walk up to collect a bell. Please don’t laugh as I explain a tiny and possibly quite sad moment.

I was standing right at the very back and next to my first ECD. The guy who’d kicked off my career and told me I should be a Copywriter. Walking up to the stage I’m convinced everyone is thinking the same thing: don’t fall up the stairs. Surely that would nullify any potential job offers or pay hikes. When I got back to where I was standing, I was met with hugs and more applause from friends at my agency. I took my old place and got a smile and a nod from said ECD. No words said. No words needed to be. I looked down and smiled. He doesn’t remember it (God love him if he does) and people will definitely rip the piss out of me now, but that was the first time I felt I wasn’t some fraud who’d blagged his way in.

The people I really feel for are the ones that didn’t get to do their first walk last year. Who have put in the hours in the most isolating time ever in our shared history and still feel like they haven’t cracked it yet. Because as perfectionists, the art of making something means you probably go a bit Adam Driver if you see some of your work on TV or wherever else. You need more than that, you need a room of people who know just how hard your job is right now to do, let alone to do well. I’d wager nobody has earned that first walk more than anyone who’ll do one in 2021. I’m really glad I’ll be there to see it. I’ll be down the back clapping loudly and trying to not make a scene.

Insights by Jack Walsh, Copywriter at Publicis Dublin and 2016 Upstart.

Begin your entry to the 2021 ICAD Awards here.