Monday, February 18, 2013

9 Reasons I Think I'm Destined to Be a Journalist

Grad School is a bitch, well...my bitch, actually. I don't know why I thought I could actually work full time and go to graduate school part time. Then I look at myself 3/4 into my second year of grad school and I'm like "oh yeah, that's right. I've already been doing this for almost 2 years." I'm going to be in severe debt (keep on coming student loans that charge interest, like now) and I'm entering a dying field (with civic journalists reporting stories via their Iphones, who needs read journalists these days) and I'm fending off panic attacks weekly because of it (I need to interview 5 sources in two weeks or I will fail). But despite all of this, I'm destined to be a journalist and here are the reasons why:

1) I tried to write my first chapter book in 2nd grade. It was about unicorns and every new page was a new chapter. Like most original literary works in my life, I never finished it. But my love for writing began at a young age. My teacher asked me, "Mary Anna, do you like to write." I was young and stupid and said, "Well, I like telling stories but I don't particularly enjoy pushing my pencil back and forth."

2) Journalism forces you to get stuff done. I have a deadline. I'm toast if I don't make it. Unless someone close to me dies or I almost die, I have no excuse but to meet the deadline. There is no half-written story. There is no idea that remains an idea and never a concrete piece of work. I'll have an editor riding my ass, pushing me to write better, in the time frame he assigns. Bam.

3) I doubt I'd get bored. When I freelanced for The Eastern Shore News, I loved every minute of it. I got to cover tourism seminars. I got to spend the day out on a boat with a bunch of high school guys deploying reef balls into the bay. I got to go to meetings I wouldn't normally care about if I wasn't assigned to cover them. I went places, I met people, and it never got old. This morning while I waiting for the trolley to carry my cold ass a few blocks to my job, I felt great sadness. I don't really wake up looking forward to my job anymore because it is the same thing every day. I will inevitably work on enrollments, assessments, attend team meetings, and organize monthly programs (the same programs) for our families. While this work is meaningful, it is the same work each and every day. I see the same people, do the same tasks, have the same meetings. There is no room for promotion. The incentive to do your job is the paycheck (and to help the families). I'm one of those people who can't settle down for long periods of time because I get ADD and start doing things like blogging about my desired career instead of focusing on my current job. If I was a full-time journalist, I'd spend every day tracking down people, researching, hearing stories, re-telling stories, traveling around the city, making hard phone calls, following little treasure hunts to potential sources. Each day would be different, even if I was working on the same story. Constant stimuli. Constant rush.

4) I like telling stories. I've always been that way. I'm the storyteller, the walking entertainment system. If it can happen, it will happen to me. I love sharing news, both good and bad and other peoples'. I like engaging in interesting conversations and sharing that with others.

5) I'm a people person with empathy superpowers. No, really, I've decided its true. I'm an empath. I can read people easily, gauge their attitude, feelings and alter my own attitude, personality to complement their own. It is weird, but this power is great because on one hand I sort of manipulate the other person's perspective of me but on the other hand, I get the information I want because I'm trustworthy and I'm easy to talk to. For years, random people have engaged me in conversation about random crap for no reason. Its like they know. It is also why telephone calls to people I don't know freak me out. I'm only really good at reading people in person and sometimes through text, but not so good on the phone. My superpower is also my crutch in that, I don't like not being able to alter myself appropriately to accommodate whomever is on the other line. It is weird but in the face to face world, it is quite useful.

6) Go with your gut. When I started out at William and Mary, I wanted to double major in English and Theatre and pursue a journalism career. While the works of Chaucer were interesting, I knew this field of study would not prepare me to be a good journalist. So I switched majors and decided to major in Sociology. This has been the one career path that has been somewhat consistent in my ADD kind of life. I've toyed with many career ideas, but this one has stuck and this one brings me the most joy.

7) That feeling you get when you book an interview with the perfect source. I can't describe it but its this massive overwhelming feeling of pride, excitement and accomplishment. You know that person is going to make your story. You have it in the bag. You're just so damn happy about it. Its like winning the lottery or finding out you don't have a terminal illness. I dunno, its a great, amazing feeling and I totally live for it.

8) I'm good at it. Hey, not to brag, but I'm carrying a 3.93 GPA in graduate school. My professors have patted me on the back for my work. I'm not a Jschool mogul like some of my classmates, I'm more of a name than a face. But people recognize I do good work and my grades reflect that.

9) I'm naturally curious. Why does that do that? Who is this person and why are they so influential? Why does this issue exist? What is being done about that issue? If I don't know it, I look it up. Being naturally inquisitive about life is a great characteristic of a future journalist. Its almost mandatory.

And that my friends, sums up the reasons I think I am destined to be a journalist. Now to make destiny a reality.

Until next time...

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