You thought this was about me and my Mister.
No, this is about another relationship. One that lasted four years, a relationship that gifted me good times, broke me and gave me a heck of a lot of pain. Journalism. This is about why journalism and I broke up.
I was on the way home today and I drove by one of the sacred (Ottawa) temples of journalism, and all I could think of is how happy I am that I “didn’t make it”.
In my fourth year, I was placed on an internship and I remember thinking, “This is it, this how my life as a journalist will start.” Boy, was I wrong.
That’s how it ended.
At the beginning of every term, j-school professors would always ask who in the room wanted to be journalist. I always had my hand up even though every year the number of hands in class dwindled. I was so determined, I was going to make it. I was going to be the next Christiane Amanpour, I was going to marry Anderson Cooper and we were going to be THE j-power couple (this was never going to happen regardless of my journalistic abilities, let’s be real).
I’m not going to rant about how ‘bad’ the internship was, because it wasn’t. It was an amazing opportunity and I had many great experiences, but it was during my time there that I realized it wasn’t for me.
Why? I don’t know. It just wasn’t the right fit.
You know when you wish for something, think about it every day and yearn obsessively for it, till one day it’s yours and you think “That’s it? That was what I was wishing and working for?”
Journalism is an esteemed profession. You chase stories, you talk to people who want you to listen, you write stories and inspire your audience. You travel, you’re free, you decide what you want to do.
But here’s the thing, I LIKE having a desk to call my own and somewhere I can consistently sit at from 9 to 5 on weekdays. I realized that I don’t like to be in unfamiliar places and the sudden jolts out of my comfort zone is a scary and horrifying place. I like routines, schedules and plans. I like knowing where I am going to be in 30 minutes and knowing that I am fully capable in doing my job. I never truly felt those things in j-school and journalism.
Yes, I am a good question-maker-upper (my friends can attest to that), but that’s because I am nosy and I like to poke and prod people about things. I am curious about the world. Yes, I love to travel, to write and to be adventurous, but I prefer to do them on my own time.
This has nothing to do with CU’s j-school, the expectations that come with being a j-kid or the brutality of the news cycle. If anything, I would never trade the education, skills and opportunities that I had in school because they all made me who I am (yo, I got to shake the Prime Minister’s hand, stalked J.Watson for a day and said ‘Hello!’ to D.Alfredsson in the Sens’ locker room – I think I’m good). I have successful skills and habits BECAUSE of j-school and I owe everything (almost) I have now because of it.
Still being in the university environment, I constantly hear how ‘competitive’, ‘challenging’ and brutal j-schools are. They are competitive and they are challenging, but my message is to not beat yourself up if you don’t ‘grow up’ to be journalist, because not every one is cut out for it.
If anything, only a small (tiny) percentage of kids from my class are actually doing things in j-world. The rest of us have gone on to do other great things: Law School, Grad School, jobs that allow travel for non-journalistic work and generally good quality employment opportunities.
I felt like a failure when I finished j-school without a job/internship/contract with a newspaper, online news outlet or broadcasting station. I felt crappy. I constantly thought ‘what is wrong with me?’ and ‘what did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Am I not good enough?’
I felt like I didn’t deserve my degree because I didn’t have a journalism related job to show for it. I convinced myself that I wasn’t worthy of my education and that I simply ‘sneaked by’ and should remain quiet before they took my fancy framed piece of paper back. I felt like people looked down on me because I graduated j-school but was ‘still’ working at the university. Some people would even say ‘but you’re going to go back to journalism after this is over right?” or “wasn’t that a waste?”.
But after some time and lots of reflection I realized a) I graduated from a great and prestigious (or so I’ve been told!) program, not many people can say that and I should be proud of it, and b) I currently do something I love, and something I am good at it! And that’s all that matters, doing something you love. Even though it wasn’t your first love.
It took me some time to be okay with the fact that I’m not living out the dream I had when I was 16. Dreams change, mine certainly have. And though journalism (and the idea of being a journalist) was a strong, good and worthy relationship, it’s something that just didn’t work out.
In Life, you have to let things go, and after driving by the scared j-temple today, I think I’m finally okay with not being a ‘journalist’. I tell stories and share things in different ways.
I am in a good place, a happy space where I can grow and find new dreams, and chase things I want to catch.
There’s nothing wrong with journalism, there’s nothing wrong with me. We just weren’t meant to be.