Real talk

I don’t want to be a journalist.

There, I said it. It’s not really something you’re allowed to say three weeks into the first year of journalism school, but I’ve always tried to be honest here, so I’m saying it.

The truth is, I felt it after the first journalism lecture, on the first day of classes, but I pushed that feeling away. I thought maybe it was just first week jitters, or perhaps I was just overwhelmed by the whole university experience. Actually, you know what? That’s not true either. I knew it wasn’t jitters. I just wanted that to be the problem. The idea that I’ve put so much effort and money and time into getting into a program that I immediately realized is wrong for me scared me too much to face it at first. It wasn’t just fear either, it was also embarrassment. There I was going around for the last six months telling everyone I was going to be a journalist, and now I’ll have to tell them all that it was a big mistake. I’ll have to tell my dad that I’m wasting his money being here, and my scholarship money too. I’ll have to tell my friends who all know what they want, that I actually have no idea where I’m going.

It’s terrifying also. Terrifying, because I don’t know what to do now. Like, at all. It’s too late to switch programs and even if I could switch, I have no idea to what program I’d switch. I’ve spent the last six years assuming (consciously or subconsciously) that I would become a journalist when I grew up. I mean, in career planning class I pretended to consider other options, but truthfully, I was always planning on journalism. I mean, it’s not like I had my whole life planned out, but I had a direction, and that felt good. Β I felt bad for all of the poor souls who still hadn’t figured out what they wanted. I loved it when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up because I had an answer.

I really did think I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that journalism is a difficult profession. The hours are long, the jobs are scarce and low-paying, and the deadlines are murder. Furthermore, no one knows what journalism is even going to look like in four years, or one, even. I was okay with that though. I felt like it was a field that was so right for me that I couldn’t go wrong, after all, I love to write and I love talking to people. That’s all you really need, isn’t it?

It took one Journ 1000 class to realize that I had it all wrong. I know that you’ve waited this whole long, ramble-y post for me to explain exactly why it is that I felt this way suddenly, but the truth is that I really couldn’t tell you. The best way that I can explain it is that I listened to descriptions of possible careers we could have-as foreign correspondents, news anchors, radio hosts, parliamentary reporters-and I couldn’t picture myself doing any of them. More than that, I didn’t want to picture myself doing any of them. All of the professor’s descriptions of a journalist were of this determined, dogged reporter chasing down leads and knocking on doors and calling everyone in the phonebook until she got answers. That, I realized, isn’t me at all.

So what do I want, exactly? What canΒ I picture myself doing? I only have vague shadows of ideas at this point. I wish I had more. It scares me that I don’t, but the honest truth is that I’m not even close to knowing what I want.

I want to be writing still; I’m sure of that. Writing important things, things that really matter. Things that will change peoples’ minds and make them listen, make them understand. I still like talking to people too. I recently joined the debate team, and I love it. Public speaking, I realized, gives me a bit of a rush actually. The other thing is that I still care about news. I flip through all of the news apps on my phone like four times a day and I’m constantly texting Mat about the debate over Syria and the elections in Australia and Kenyan leaders being tried for war crimes. I think that someday I’d like to be in a position where I could do more than just report on those things. I would like to be in a position where I could make real changes in foreign policy and diplomatic relations.

And now that I go back and read that paragraph it really just looks like I want to go into politics. Do I? I’m not sure. I wish that I had a dream…

For now, I guess I’m going to journalism class. I’m sure I’ll learn some useful stuff there, regardless on what I choose to do. I’ve got a year to figure my shit out. Hopefully that will be enough. Hopefully God really does have a plan for me.

Otherwise, I’m screwed.

 

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Real talk

  1. Well, that would suck. But I have an art degree and now teach math, so let’s see how this life thing pans out in the end, shall we? Oh, and I was a librarian for 8 years or so. I have a degree in that too.

    The thing is that you write very well and you care about news. (I like to think I write well, but I have trouble staying focused on news–it seems kind of the like the same thing as yesterday, and the same thing as 10 years before that, and when you get right down to it, a lot like the same thing as 30 years ago and I start to lose interest. We’re different in that respect, aren’t we?) You edited the school newspaper for a while and you liked that, if I remember correctly. That would make me want to tear my eyes out. So that does actually suggest you could be on the right path here and it’s just not shaping up exactly as hoped yet. The other thing is that school is not the same thing as a career in that same field. Being a librarian was pretty fun. Library school was the most boring thing I have ever attempted in my life. So maybe you’re experiencing a gap between what being a journalist seems like it should feel like and just going to class to be a journalist.

    My third thought here is that there are probably any number of things you could do, that you have a talent for, and that you would be happy doing. There isn’t a single dream career out there for most of us. Very few of us are Einstein and would only be happy studying physics. There are usually several options, all of which are probably less than perfect, but could be made to work quite well in a pinch.

    So let’s see what this year brings, but this could still lead you somewhere that you would really like to be. My path did, even though it totally makes no sense at all as a career path. Yours could too.

    And another thing–I think you could be that dogged person trying to find out the truth for us. Oh, and finally, some journalists end up spending a lot of time writing books. You might like that.

    • I guess you’re right, journalism school might not be the same as actually being a journalist. Actually, I suspect that you’re right about all of it. It’s just that today we had a guest lecture from a journalist who was on the scene at the awful bus/train crash in Ottawa on Wednesday where six people died, and I could just never imagine myself doing what he did, which is whipping out my phone and filming the scene and asking people questions as they came off the bus.

      • Well, maybe you won’t do car crashes. You’ll do something else. Or, you’ll do it without being such a jackass about it. You’ll be thinking people really need to know about this. Word needs to get out, or nothing will ever be done to improve bus safety. Or something like that. Instead of just getting caught up in the drama of it all, you’ll have at the back of your mind a deeper sense of purpose that will be what keeps you going through the tough stuff–because it really is hard to keep seeing things like that. It’s terrible, in fact. But I think it helps. I was on the train when we hit a pedestrian. It was terrible. I didn’t see anything, but the screams were horrible, and that sickening sense of knowing nothing could be done. It was awful. And and I really wanted to know what had happened, and if she lived or what. And I think it did help to be able to find out. And I would never have known–I would have just wondered, and I think that would have upset me more–if no journalists had been there to cover that.

      • Well, maybe you won’t do car crashes. You’ll do something else. Or, you’ll do it without being such a jackass about it. You’ll be thinking people really need to know about this. Word needs to get out, or nothing will ever be done to improve bus safety. Or something like that. Instead of just getting caught up in the drama of it all, you’ll have at the back of your mind a deeper sense of purpose that will be what keeps you going through the tough stuff–because it really is hard to keep seeing things like that. It’s terrible, in fact. But I think it helps. I was on the train when we hit a pedestrian. It was terrible. I didn’t see anything, but the screams were horrible, and that sickening sense of knowing nothing could be done. It was awful. And and I really wanted to know what had happened, and if she lived or what. And I think it did help to be able to find out. And I would never have known–I would have just wondered, and I think that would have upset me more–if no journalists had been there to cover that.

        • I guess having that perspective helps. It’s definitely true that when stuff like that happens people want to know what is going on.
          I guess I also have time yet to think about this. Thanks for the perspective, as always.

  2. I keep wanting to reply, but don’t have anything super constructive to say.

    I absolutely agree with Ashana. School and life are totally different. School will teach you many nifty things and life will teach you how to apply them. To journalism, or to architecture – it’s anyone’s game, really. (I’m pretty sure that was super patronizing – I’m sorry about that.)

    On the other hand? I’ve been there. I switched majors in my second year (from Wildlife and Fisheries to English Lit). I was doing well in Sciences, but felt zero passion for that route. I can’t say as I use my degree professionally, in more than a communications direction, but I’m happy I made the switch. Sciences felt wrong, y’know? I have also done this with jobs. I once took a great job with great benefits and a much better wage than my previous gig as a book flogger for an indie bookshop, but it sucked my soul away. I hated that job, despite all of the great things going for it. It was very, very wrong. So I quit and went back to what made me happy.

    You have a lot to consider and I don’t envy you that. But. It’s an awesome time to do it. Post-secondary, especially in the early years, affords you so much time for some seriously amazing personal growth. Sit down and talk to friends (new and old). Make an appointment with a prof you dig (they’re likely to have had “I’m pretty sure journalism isn’t for me” thoughts before too, they might have some awesome insight). Have a good heart-to-heart with your Dad, he seems like a pretty fantastic fellah who will also offer some great insight and advice. Then take all of that, and what your heart is telling you, and stroll down whatever damn path makes YOU happy. πŸ™‚

    You’re awesome, lady. You’re going to rock life hard. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for this reply. Of course you don’t sound patronizing, you sound kind of wise actually πŸ™‚
      Do profs really do that? You can just make an appointment with them to talk about how you feel about the subject or your program or whatever?
      I think that I realize that I’m growing and changing as a person, and that’s kind of what scares me about it all.

      • They have office hours. Fire ’em off an email and ask if they wouldn’t mind to have that discussion with you. I don’t see why they wouldn’t. I would, They know the gig – they’re perfect conversation partners. Especially when they understand that you’re not after career counselling, but rather to get more of a handle on this path of study.

        That IS scary. I was just saying to my husband, yesterday afternoon actually, that I was wildly different when we met in Second Year compared to the me that started there in the beginning. But. The change can be really, really awesome. I love reflecting on my journey through uni (nevermind everything else after I tumbled out of the nest) and who I am now because of it.

  3. Okay, breathe. It’s okay to not like your course. How do I know that? I don’t. But I also don’t know a lot of people who actually got a job in whatever they majored in at school. People change their minds, and it’s ok. You are a smart, talented person, and you will excel at whatever you do. Just remember that. Journalism school will teach you so much, but you don’t necessarily have to be a journalist.

  4. Don’t stress, I’m a junior at a university majoring in communication and that is as far as I have gotten. I know what I enjoy, but I still have no idea what I want to do as a career. I don’t have all the answers, but I have faith that there is a plan for me, even if I have no idea what that may be. I just started reading your blog this evening, but it is clear just from a couple posts you are very talented & will figure it out! (:

    Best of Luck,
    Kelsey Lee

  5. I definitely get it. I have felt so much doubts about what i’m studying but I also am coming to realize how much more university is than just specifically what you memorize for exams. So don’t worry too much now, hopefully you can find some good in your classes! Maybe you do want to be a writer, you just want to choose what you write about, which is just as cool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s