How do you like your new job?
Over the last few months I have been asked that question dozens of times. My response is always some version of “ummm…it’s good” or “I like it” and every time I mutter that vague and generic reply I’m not being entirely honest. Because let’s face it, people don’t REALLY want to hear the whole truth.
The truth is this, the anxiety that I face every single day is burning a hole in my chest. I allow myself to become so entirely focused on how others perceive my articles that I forget to permit myself to have fun. I have very high standards for my content and this week I realized that if I get too rushed I make mistakes. But I don’t always have the luxury to slow down.
Writing has become my work. I have somehow taken something I loved and turned it into a burden.
But, all roads led here…right? Initially when I accepted my position at the newspaper I was expecting to love it instantly but instead I found out a few truths about myself that proved difficult to swallow. I’m not brave, I’m not outgoing and I don’t live loud. I never saw that as a hindrance but in this line of work if you don’t have the guts you don’t get the glory.
Anyone who truly knows me can attest to this; I’m not aggressive, I don’t like conflict and I really hate getting in the way. A good news reporter is never passive, they thrive on controversy and they get inside.
In the last four months I have had to overcome a lot of personality barriers and none of it was easy but I did it; proving to myself that the triumphs that require a deeper emotional push are the victories we learn the most from.
People aren’t always going to like what I have to say; I have become WELL aware of that. People can be SUPER malicious and they will not hesitate to tell you how stupid you are or how you “dropped the ball.” They love to point out any and all mistakes you make, forgetting that you’re just a writer; they don’t even think of you as human. They fail to comprehend that you are not an expert on all things.
THAT is the standard people will hold you to in this business because they don’t care that you can only report what you are told and they don’t care that you have very little power.
I’ve had to swallow my pride. I’ve had to keep on smiling when all I wanted to do was cry. I’ve had to heave myself out of bed in the morning; dreading the work email inbox. I’ve had to endure some of the cruelest comments heard that even a high school bully would be shocked to hear them. You might ask…all for what?
Two words… Positive. Feedback.
For every mean-spirited comment I’ve received, I’ve been given five positive ones. Total strangers have stopped me and told me how refreshing my voice is, that they’re proud of me, that I am talented, that I have a bright future, that I’m hilarious, that they look for my bylines in every edition. People call my mother at her office and tell her how much they have been enjoying my work. I’ve been asked to give speeches, people call me and request that I write their stories; they ask for follow-ups to my columns and they mail me thank you cards.
I could never express to those kind and thoughtful people how much good it does my heart to hear that I’ve “inspired them” or “motivated them” or “entertained them” or “moved them” it’s humbling and incredibly hard to believe.
So, ask me again. How do I like my job?
It’s not a simple answer. I hate it and I love it. Without it I don’t know who or what I’d be, I was never meant to do anything else and I know that good weeks will be followed by awful ones but eventually I hope they will be great weeks followed by boring ones. I’m starting to realize that I’m never really going to be fully comfortable but I also think that if we don’t hold ourselves responsible to a higher standard we’ll never achieve greatness and we wouldn’t be thriving.
I’ve met a lot of interesting people and I’ve done a lot of really cool things; all because of this job. And I have barely scratched the surface of possibilities. And while there are absolutely things I struggle with and will continue to battle I know that I am strong and there is no going back for me. There is only moving forward.
I’m always going to be a little scared, fearful of failing and I may not always have the guts but sometimes I do get the glory.