Several years ago, when I was desperately pursuing a full time creative career, I was working a job I absolutely couldn't stand but absolutely needed. For the most part, I sat at a desk for 8 or more hours and stared at a computer screen. I felt like I was wasting a lot of time and energy I wanted to use to develop more creative skills. I wish I could say I treated this time of struggle with grace and patience while I worked hard towards my dream career. That's not how it was. Honestly, I just complained about it a lot - not my proudest season of life.
Luckily, that complaining did land me on some pretty solid advice from some much wiser people. When someone suggested to me I make use of my boring 8 hour days by listening to something that could fulfil that desire to better myself, my first reaction was more like "how do you suppose I do that?" rather than "that's brilliant", but it was brilliant. After a bout with books on tape, which just aren't really for me, I landed on podcasts.
I have racked my brain for the best way to describe what exactly a podcast is and I am still at a loss. If you know anyone who is a shameless podcast enthusiast (me over here) or you are one yourself you already know the topics and styles can vary so drastically. If you are totally unfamiliar with the concept in general the best way to describe them is a mix of audio shows /documentaries /news /culture /friendship /etc. Even after years of being removed from that job and season of life, I still find them incredibly addicting.
It's just so commercially to say there's something for everyone! but there really is no better way to say it. This is not a commercial in the least, but this month the whole Podcast community is encouraging listeners to shout it out proud that they are so. They are using #trypod to encourage people to share where and how they get their podcasts and which ones they listen to. I think this is important for a lot of reasons.
The first, because in a new political system where funding is being threatened for many creative outlets its more important than ever to stand by and support those we have benefitted from. I have a wealth of knowledge and perspective I would have never had if it wasn't for my years of podcast listening and I am grateful for that. They are also completely free, like the radio, they rely on ads on top of funding to survive. More listeners = more opportunities for these creatives and what a gift it is that I may be able to give back to them by sharing the love!
Secondly, I am passionate about being a lifelong learner. The more I learn, the more I realize the less I know (does that make sense?). I think we can all benefit from gaining more insight and knowledge and to understand the world around us. I am not someone lucky enough to get to just travel the world all the time and immerse myself in different cultures but I can learn about those cultures and even hear straight from people across the globe on a podcast and I just think that is an amazing gift. There is a free resource packed to the brim with ideas and knowledge that is totally free out there and I don't want to stand in anyone's way from knowing about it.
Do yourself a favor and go listen to one of these, my top ten: (more below on where to listen if you don't know how)
1. This American Life - Tried and true radio program and now in podcast form - full of stories from people around the globe focusing on a specific theme each week.
2. Millennial - A real time story of one millennial's coming of age on the cusp of the "real world". It's one of those anyone at any age can relate to. I reccomend starting at Season 1 Episode
3. Call your Girlfriend - Essentially a this week in the news show with a hilarious feminist spin. Two (boss lady) best friends chat about news, culture and their lives.
4. Serial - The one that put podcast on the map for people. Start with Season 1 Episode 1. It is one true crime story told in weekly segments but also so much more.
5. Stuff You Should Know - Literally making any topic interesting. Think How Stuff is Made, but the audio version.
6. 99% Invisible - Covers topics that are lurking just underneath the surface of everyday life and how our world is designed.
7. Radiolab - Stories of real people and events and how they are connected.
8. Criminal - True Crime, but so much more. You'll be sitting on the edge of your seat with your mouth wide open at some one these stories.
9. Missing Richard Simmons - My new favorite, similar to Serial, but you guessed it, it's all about Richard Simmons. I bet you didn't even know he was missing?
10. The Moth Podcast - Real People, telling their real interesting stories recorded live from a stage.
You can always listen on their respective websites (linked above), but there are a lot of places where you can subscribe to specific shows. I get my podcasts on my iPhone, which is super easy using the Podcast app that comes on your phone and is free to download, if you are an Apple user, you can also listen from iTunes. If you're not an Apple user, I would recommend Stitcher you can listen on their website or download their app, you can create a free account to keep track of your favorite shows! . Happy listening!