After teaching and coming home and eating a quick dinner (sadly I didn’t cook the pasta I meant to), I am ready for my futon. Despite deadlines galore, I’m going to relax again tonight.
And by relax I mean do some soul searching and some researching.
It’s good news that I got into UBC’s Journalism program in the beautiful beautiful Vancouver BUT it’s raising doubts in me (what the heck?!). I need to get on track with where I want to end up — and stop letting the lure of a good school or a nice city stray me away from what I know and trust about myself. It’s time for some goal setting, kiddos!
I wasn’t going to bring it up on this blog because I really thought it was something I’d be able to sort through myself, but I’m realizing more and more I’m bothered by something. When I told a friend, who I know didn’t mean to hurt me, that I was thinking of heading back to Brescia for Foods and Nutrition as a second undergrad, she asked me if I meant I was “giving up” on UBC and Columbia. I was really hurt by the comment, and I don’t blame her but I do question how much I was affected by it. Is it “giving up” if I don’t go? What if it’s because I’ve decided that “journalist” isn’t the right job title for me, but “writer” is? But the insecurity I have makes me wonder: am I so sure this is what I want to do?
These are the questions I need to think through tonight and for the next little while. The deadline to accept for journalism school is in mid-March, which is fast approaching. I really don’t KNOW the job title I want when I grow up. I accept that that much is entirely normal. It gets scary when going to a master’s program that I’ve already been accepted to presents itself as an opportunity–one that I was so sure I wanted not too long ago. When I think about things, though, I remember why I strayed from it in the first place: I don’t know that the lifestyle, insecurity, and stress that goes along with being a professional journalist would be the kind of living I want. I do know that I LOVE writing. I do know that there is stress and insecurity in terms of other careers too. But I know that constant deadlines and the stress of writing pieces, especially about things I don’t particularly love, is less than ideal for me.
I also know that I have done a fair bit of writing for a student and have enjoyed it but the majority of it has been stuff I’ve gotten set up with via connections, people I’ve met/networking, or pure luck. I know there’s talk of not even needing a journalism degree to be a journalist (but I always thought you might as well get an education if that’s your goal), but I’m not sure what the consensus is on how a journalism school degree would help you get freelance work or to write about topics you’re passionate about. If I wanted to be a journalist full time, I’d go. It’s here where I get hung up. I would like to be a freelancer, I think, who has another job. And I don’t want to have that other job because I have to, but because I want to. I want a career that I’m passionate about that allows me to write. Think Nancy Clarke’s articles, what Michael Pollan does, or the work that a lot of professionals in their industries do in terms of writing.
To me, that whole goal would be better achieved by doing what I’m doing with writing (writing about some stuff outside of my loves to build my portfolio, practicing on a blog, freelancing whenever I can, and writing for free<–money is just a bonus if I do get paid but I know lots of aspiring journalists don’t want to “just write for free”) and by getting more training (i.e. more fitness teaching certifications or working with the ones I have) or education (hence going back to school). I know all of this, but I still have a little voice in my head that says if I want to be “legit” I should go to school for journalism.
Or that in ten years I might regret not going.
But that’s crap. In ten years, I can be whoever I want to be. Ten years is long enough to change everything but isn’t so long that you don’t see how those changes could happen. I could end up living in BC in a different route. I could end up being a contributor for Women’s Health via my route now (I am already writing for a national magazine, and I don’t give myself credit). OR I could totally change my mind and find something else. I could be the next Michael Pollan. I could end up a teacher, teaching kids to make a difference (cheesy but true). I could change the world. I don’t have to know HOW, I just have to trust that I have that kind of power.
I had a good talk with Mel today about some of the stuff I say that “pisses her off” — so much love for you, PS, Mel — like “I don’t know how it’s going to get better” usually referring to my hip or like “I should do ______” — and she told me straight up, you need to believe in yourself and even though we don’t know what’s going to happen, we have to believe that stuff is going to come through for us (I’m going to run this season and I will have a freaking vegetable garden and a house with a husband, some day). She also is good at reminding me to make a decision and own it (which is advice I receive a lot and even give out to friends). Sometimes I need to follow my own advice and check in on all those cheesy quotes I share with my friends…
Literally, food for thought. I have a lot of thinking to do! I am looking for advice from people in my life–I have a lot of unconditional support, which is awesome, and I know this is my own decision, but I am SOLICITING for it. I want some guidance, insight, etc.
I also want to go lay down and think! So that’s what I’m going to do.
What do you think? Have you ever dealt with a similar decision?