If you want to learn more about yourself as a person, book a short trip to a city you've never been to before and build up a ferocious optimistic momentum fueled by hopes and dreams. Analyze results.
I have never been to Boston and I decided shortly after graduating Temple University that I wanted to try and shoot for a job at a BIG newspaper. You see, the Philadelphia Inquirer is on such unstable ground that it is near impossible to get my foot in the elite door of the uncertain newspaper. So I "dream big" and do some digging. I decide that I want to write for the Boston Globe. It is a huge New England paper with a huge staff that is successful both online and in print and is thriving. It is one of the top 10 news organizations in the country.
But wait, we should go to Boston and scope out the area before we try to secure a huge career change there, right?
I booked a trip to Boston for July (this past weekend) and I found tickets to a free tour of the Boston Globe. I was content with that, until a week before I was set to fly up to Boston and a bunch of openings at the Globe presented themselves to me. One was for a paid internship and the other was for a breaking news writer position. Such fate! Such serendipity for these opportunities to make themselves known shortly before my departure! It almost appeared to be meant to be.
So I applied for both. I included in my cover letter that I was going up to Boston and would be touring the Globe on Friday. I started following the main reporters and editors on Twitter. I learned the history of the Globe. I studied the writing styles. I prepared myself for the far-fetched possibility of a cold interview the day of my tour. I was excited at the life changing possibility. I didn't want to leave Philly, but Philly didn't want me as a journalist. I got to live my passion. Everything I heard about Boston was positive.
As the plane landed at Logan International, I couldn't shake my shit eating grin. That is when the adventure began. I quickly found myself insanely comfortable in this foreign city. Like, I could navigate the transit with ease. Find my way to my hostel without getting lost. I felt safe and secure and as if I may have been there before (I hadn't).
Boston is nice. It (at least the areas I was exposed to) is VERY clean, VERY expensive and VERY fancy. Now I went many places: Back Bay, Harbor, North End, Downtown, South Boston, Cambridge (not Boston but ya know). I felt that many places you needed to put your napkin on your lap while eating at McDonalds. The history bits are very interesting and the food is decent. I'm a big fan of the clam chowder. Oh, and the beer is pure and fresh everywhere, especially Sam Adams (which apparently you have to order it "Boston Lager."
The highlights of my trip were 1) my time spent with a college best friend, her husband and her amazingly cute little daughter who can now affectionately call me "Auntie." 2) Boston Common, its like Rittenhouse Square on steroids and I enjoyed simply rolling around the grass with said daughter and enjoying the breeze. 3) The Tam (this little Irish Pub/cash only dive bar around the corner from my hostel that reminded me of Philly, hence why I liked it so much) and 4) The North End (Little Italy was pretty cute)
The hostel was nice and I made a new friend. However sleeping on the top bunk in a room with 7 strangers is kind of difficult. Earplugs are your friend and you must be aware that most everyone will go to bed sooner than you. (9:30pm on a Sunday night and the lights were out/everyone was in bed. I was the a**hole that wanted to stay up and pack my stuff and go out to my bar before turning in).
Oh, and my Globe Tour was up there but my expectations were so high that I was sort of bummed when my tour ended and I was ushered out the building. I hadn't talked to anyone other than my tour guides and the major editor before I was standing in the parking lot with broken dreams. This sounds melodramatic but its kind of true: not because I didn't get a cold interview but actually because I realized what a big deal the Globe is and the caliber of experience of those who work there. I simply don't have the front line journalism chops right now needed to succeed in such a regal institution. I mean, hey..they've won 24 Pulitzers. After my tour I wrote a letter to the hiring editor and enclosed the article I talk about in my cover letter. I said I was making one last attempt at an impression and that I'd apply for future opportunities should this one not pan out. I haven't been this aggressive about anything in my entire life.
As my Boston trip came to a close I realized that deep within my heart, I absolutely loved Philadelphia. Boston was nice and I am so glad I got to experience it but in the end Philadelphia is home and I am very happy here. Which puts me in an interesting position. Out of NYC, DC, Boston and Philly, I will always choose Philly. We've got culture, diversity a sense of community. We have parks and festivals and concerts and beer gardens. We have fancy pubs and dive bars, cheesesteaks and water ice, history and modern art, and all of it is accessible/pretty affordable.
While meeting various travelers and new friends, my work comes up in conversations. "Wow, you must feel so fulfilled!" "You've got a big heart" and "You deserve a medal" in other words "You must sleep well at night."
I don't. Yes the work I do is great and I help people every day. But I don't sleep well at night because I know I am not fulfilling my life's passion. I know I'm not living up to my potential. I know that my journalistic/writing talent is sitting there untapped as I continue the stressful yet comfortable work that I've been doing for the past 5 years.
Yes, "it" will come, "it" being my opportunity. Be patient. Just be. Just live. I know, I hear this everyday from everyone. But the reality is, what now? I have learned that I am undeniably in love with the City of Brotherly Love. The same city that despite my love has no room for a young, dedicated and talented journalist. And I'm not gunning for a senior editor position. I just want to be a little reporter and work my way though the corporate ladder like everyone else. But I just can't seem to get my feet on that first rung.
Boston is nice and it is a city for people who like nice things. I spill food on my shirt and throw my hair in a top knot. I don't own a designer handbag and my most precious material possession is my Ray-bans. I like a good meal but I prefer to be able to afford it. I'm low-maintenance and find comfort in the trash-laden streets of Philadelphia. Who knew?
What is next? I don't know. I will give the Globe another week and if nothing comes up (it won't) I will start seriously looking for a new apartment in South Philly where I want to live and eventually raise a family anyway. Perhaps I'm going to have to pursue an aggressive freelance hustle to "make it." I don't know. All I know is that I need a new game plan. Back to the drawing board.
Until next time...