Phoebe Parsons, podcaster, Confessions of a Twenty Something Train Wreck

I think there's a little train wreck in all of us, some of us are just a little more forthcoming in admitting to it ...

Put your hand up if you can confidently say you have your life together. We’re not seeing many hands, and we’re pretty sure those of you with your hands up are either lying or are robots. Many of us are locked in the perpetual game of balancing all aspects of our life – trying to equally prioritise is a near impossible task. We’re constantly juggling social commitments, navigating our desired career path, keeping our health in check and finding time for romance – it’s pretty easy to see why we’d have trouble keeping it together. Phoebe Parsons will be the first to tell you that her life is in shambles. Despite nailing her dream job, Phoebe’s personal life leaves a lot to be desired (her words). Instead of trying to impose order on the chaos, Phoebe has chosen to embrace it and make light of it in an entertaining and relatable podcast. Confessions of a Twenty Something Train Wreck could be the name of our memoirs, but it’s already been nabbed for Phoebe’s serial, which just started its second season. We chatted to Phoebe about how chaotic her life really is, and the benefits of using a podcast as a tool for sorting one’s self out.

You start your podcast by saying how you’ve got a great degree and the job of your dreams, but your personal life is in shambles. At what point did you realise that your life as it was made excellent podcast fodder?
Professionally, I’ve always had it together and have been hustling since the day I left school. I’ve learnt to exist in a permanent state of professional over-commitment, which probably explains why my personal life is in a permanent state of chaos! Every time I catch up with girlfriends I somehow manage to always have a new and even more dramatic story than the last and it became a running joke that I should have my own reality TV show. Turns out I don’t have enough siblings or a face that’s commercially viable enough to sell lip kits or hair gummies on Instagram, so I decided to turn it into a podcast instead.  

What did you think you could bring to the podcast format that you hadn’t heard before?
Unashamed honesty – sorry mum! I’ve never been afraid of owning up to my shortcomings and I think that once you learn to embrace your flaws then no one can use them against you.

It’s therapeutic unloading about your issues with a group of friends. Does the process of putting these episodes together and talking about events ease your worries about where your life is heading?
Some could call it therapeutic unloading, others could call it a [very] public wake up call. I don’t think I’ve ever been worried about where my life is heading, but it has definitely made me question how I’ve made it to the age of 28 relatively unscathed (touch wood).  

Are there any stories you’ve been too embarrassed to share with your listeners, or is it all fair game?
It’s all fair game for me. I’ve laid my cards out on the table and I feel like I have a responsibility to maintain an open and honest conversation with my listeners. I’m by no means any kind of positive role model (in fact, I’m probably the opposite), but in this day and age when social media reigns supreme and we’re all fighting for the title of the most seemingly perfect life, I think it’s important to be as real and authentic as you can. It’s okay not to have it altogether all the time and I think it’s important for people to realise that life isn’t always what it seems on Instagram.

You’ve recently released the first episode of season two – where’s your life at right now compared to when you signed off at the end of season one?
Life is definitely looking up. I’m not sure if you know, but when your podcast hits #23 on iTunes, the housemate who has the ensuite, walk in robe and private balcony has to relinquish it to you. But seriously, aside from now having the biggest room, I’ve also cleaned up a lot of my mess from season one. I’ve paid off and cancelled both of my credit cards, did six years worth of tax returns, got an e-tag and Ripley’s Believe it or Not, I haven’t cried in about eight weeks.  

What was some of the most noteworthy feedback you received throughout season one?
I’ve been absolutely blown away by the feedback that’s been left on iTunes, and I still can’t believe that people outside of my immediate family have listened to it. The most heart melting feedback for me have been some of the private messages people have gone out of their way to send me on Facebook and Instagram saying things like ‘Thank you for sharing, I thought I was the only one’. It sounds really small and insignificant, but that’s the whole premise for the podcast so it’s honestly still so surreal to me that people are resonating with it.  

You’ve covered diets, dating, housemates and cars – what topics are giving you mental breakdowns in season two?
I thought I might have finally gotten my act together, but clearly the universe had other plans because I managed to find enough wreckage to fill 10 additional episodes. In season two we delve into culinary chaos, treacherous travel stories, the heart ache of hair maintenance and the biology of bad decisions. At the rate my life is going there’ll be enough content to knock The Simpson’s off their perch for the longest-running show of all time.  

What has the process of self-analysis via podcast taught you about yourself and what you want out of life?
That I need an assistant, and a new car! Honestly though, more than anything it’s probably made me realise that I need a little more balance in my life. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved professionally and I absolutely love what I do – you couldn’t work three jobs simultaneously if you didn’t – but I can’t keep going at this pace forever. One of my nicknames is Energiser Bunny, and most days not I even I know how I do it, but I hate to see what happens when the batteries officially go flat.

While many people like to judge others on paper, at the end of the day are we all just train wrecks?
At the risk of sounding biased, I think there’s a little train wreck in all of us, some of us are just a little more forthcoming in admitting to it.

When things are at their worst and you want to get in the bin, where do you turn to for inspiration and encouragement
I mean, the train wreck thing to do would be to just get into the bin, which I’ve done before. Guys I’m kidding, it was actually a giant pot plant that just so happened to have a few cigarette butts in it. I honestly don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve the support system I have, and no matter how big the wreck I manage to get myself into, there’s always someone to pull me out and patch me up. But there’s no one quite like my mum – she’s the strongest and most resilient woman I know and despite not really understanding what a Podcast even is, she’s still my number-one fan.

Confessions of a Twenty Something Train Wreck has just commenced its second season. To listen to Phoebe recount her worldly woes, click here.


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