In My Own Time: Overcoming Fear in a New Country

02 May 2024 | Inclusive Journalism Cymru

For quite some time now the phrase “in your own time” has been a source of reflection. When I first heard it, it brought me great annoyance and concern. Back then I served as an administrator in a small organisation in London, where one of my tasks involved operating a stacked photocopier. While I was happy to assist people with their work, I wasn’t as thrilled about dealing with that particular – fiddly – photocopier. Nevertheless, I managed to resolve any issues that arose.

One busy day, a colleague handed me a large pile of A4 papers to photocopy. That’s when the sentence was uttered: “You can do it in your own time.” What other time was I meant to do it, I wondered.

In my own time, I came to understand what this phrase meant, but more importantly, why it has stayed with me. A dictionary will define it as doing a task at your own discretion, but when this comes in the form of a polite request from one of your colleagues, that discretion doesn’t include not doing it, even if you are overwhelmed with work and it feels impossible. Of course, what my colleague really meant was “when you have time to do it”. But I still did not feel like I had enough time, and I was afraid to express this. 

I anticipated that leaving Colombia behind and moving to a different country meant having to speak a new language well. At first, the frustration of not being able to understand or do things I was asked or wanted to do became a constant source of anxiety. Gradually, if never as quickly or as perfectly as I hoped, I gained the fluency necessary to navigate the confusion of everyday life.

I found my way. I pursued different roles in public service, education, and healthcare to gain insights into UK culture. Along the way, I learned to identify environments conducive to my growth and those that weren’t, enabling me to prioritise effectively. I understood that following instructions and managing my time was closely tied to life circumstances. Time isn’t rigidly set and can’t be taken for granted. It fluctuates depending on your capacity, the maturity of your organisation, and how its culture revolves around the well-being of its people.

" Time isn't rigidly set and can't be taken for granted. It fluctuates depending on your capacity."

Constanza Martinez Buendia


I have always been passionate about learning and attending classes. Hailing from a family of teachers, I started school, in a way, before birth. My mother ran a primary school in Girardot, Colombia, a city by the Magdalena River. My father dedicated his time to writing about my hometown. I therefore made sure to carve out time for study, a crucial aspect of my life. The desire to attend university in the UK persisted since the beginning of my life with my husband. I knew it would be a challenging journey, requiring both money and time to be prepared to study. Nevertheless, it was achievable.

I enrolled at Birkbeck University, pursuing a master’s in management and a master’s in journalism.

In my own time, I established a website – – in London, focusing on connecting individuals with whom I share similar struggles, particularly in building a new life in a new country.

As a journalist, my work revolves mainly around British residents with Latin American origins and backgrounds. However, the core of my writing is influenced by the concepts of David Morley and Kevin Robins, two academics I delved into for my journalism dissertation at Birkbeck. They say our cultural identities aren’t fixed by geographic boundaries, that they are constantly redefined through interactions with other groups, cultures and places.

Now residing in Swansea, which became my home five years ago, I feel connected to Welsh culture. It has brought me closer to nature and the sea, facilitating the formation of friendships and work.

Here I am, a journalist and a member of Iberians and Latin Americans in Wales, a solidarity-focused multicultural group. I also enjoy engaging in conversations over coffee with fellow community members and participating in campaigns or events related to our collective interests.

The internet has transformed my life, enabling easy contact with family and friends outside Swansea. This was a far cry from my initial visit to the UK in 1987, where I had to use pennies in red public phone boxes to talk to my parents.

I am able to connect with others beyond Swansea, fostering continuous learning and shared experiences that enhance my ability to communicate with the population that matters most to me.

Organisations such as Inclusive Journalism Cymru have played significant roles in my professional life. For example, I recently participated in the Inclusive Media Development Lab with fellow journalists and campaigners to develop our business and entrepreneurship skills.

The Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) has been another avenue of growth. A recent workshop on Narrative Change has clarified the ways to inform through planning, consulting, and writing.

Psychoanalysis has also played a crucial role in my development. Indeed, these very words pay tribute to my psychoanalyst, Dr. German Aguirre Licht, and his invaluable contributions. Conversations with him facilitated a deeper understanding of myself. Through this process, I  have constructed a more confident Constanza, “a better me”.

Not everything has unfolded in my own time, but the challenges I have faced have shaped me into the person and journalist I am today.

The broader movement towards inclusive journalism is immense, acting as a catalyst for me to overcome exclusionary conditions. Recognising that exclusion is intertwined with fear and that fear doesn’t exist in isolation has compelled me to write more. Understanding that my fear wasn’t solely inherent but shaped by cultures of fear surrounding us has proven invaluable.

We are afraid to talk. Understanding this has strengthened my journalistic work. If journalists don’t analyse and explain facts, they feed fears. Feeding fears reduce dialogue, action, growth, sharing, and participation possibilities. Through my writing, I wish to overcome these fears. 

“To my niece, Julieta Hernandez Martinez: Her vibrant spirit and boundless creativity brought joy, laughter, and hope to every corner of Brazil she visited on her bicycle. Her influence, however, extended even further, reaching into communities in Venezuela, where she was born, and resonating beyond Brazil’s borders.”

You can follow Constanza on LinkedIn, Twitter, or visit her website.