A lot has been going on lately and life has been a bit in flux.
Last Friday, after more than seven years in the journalism business, most of those in broadcasting but print before that, I left the news business. As of this week, I am jumping into a brand new career in the realm of public relations.
It’s a move that I am incredibly excited about after years of just ‘feeding the beast’ to get news programs on the air with whatever content was possible amid shrinking staffs and constantly-breaking, outdated machinery (our TV station is one of the few in the country that is still editing on videotape and has yet go non-linear).
At first I was a bit scared of making a leap into another career. This was the longest I had been in any job and it was all I had known for awhile. What about all those familiar faces that I would no longer see day in and day out?
Then I realized that I was doing what we often do when we look back on something – idealizing. I wasn’t taking a look around me, but rather trying to make all that I had dealt with, put up with, and been frustrated by in my business and turn it into a footnote, while putting the good times at the front of my mind.
A very bad idea.
Sometimes, we lose ourselves in what we do. For me, it became very easy. Between the long days, often taking texts or phone calls at home, or doing work online in the evenings after I left work or on the weekends, I got caught up in it. When it’s the medium of television, that goes even further, because you’re not only taking on the identity of your work for yourself, but to the public as well. So many people would stop us in the grocery store and want to talk about who they didn’t like at the station, or why they didn’t like a particular story. It didn’t matter if the person they were complaining about was a friend or colleague, or if I had anything to do with the story they didn’t like. I worked there, thus, I was their chance to vent.
One of the biggest reasons I left was that I was just plain burnt-out on news. In the position I had, I was looked to for many problems for many shows. So, although I walked in at 8 to start getting things together for the noon news, by 10:30 or 11, the evening producer would be looking for what people were doing for the 5. There were many times we were still scrambling to get the Noon on the air and I was running around, frustrated, trying to figure out the 5, the 6, then soon after, the 10 and the 11, etc. It was a never ending cycle. In many jobs, when you finish something, you can take a sigh of relief. “Phew. I finished.” In news, there’s no such thing. You run yourself into the ground for one show and then you better be ready to do it all over again for another show in just a few short hours.
It may have been exciting and new in my twenties, but now, with years gone by and the little guy growing like a weed, it just wasn’t for me anymore.
I was coming home with chest pains, going to work each day, anxiety-ridden about what was coming and I knew that I was coming home as a person I didn’t want my son growing up with. I knew, deep down, that if I stayed on the path I was on, I would be dead before age 50, keeled over my desk. I wasn’t what I wanted my little guy seeing as an example of how to be, or how life should be.
Yes, you can say ‘well, it’s a job’ but you can rationalize and glorify anything when you want to. There is an allure for many to be ‘in the TV business’ or to have people know who you are. In the end, though, what matters is how you balance that, and what you trade off for your own happiness.
So I started looking outward, and when this opportunity in public affairs at a college campus presented itself, looking for someone with a background in journalism, I couldn’t leap fast enough. A new set of challenges, an exciting new start, great hours, holidays off, more time for my family. Time on the weekends and nights to spend with them or work on my passions, be it this blog, my comic series, or get back into some fiction writing. How could I say no?
I know a lot of people these days measure success in different ways. I’m not one to measure it by how many people know me, how much time my face was on television, or how many Facebook friends or followers I had. For me, it’s about the quality of the life you choose to lead. Moving to a job that may not have the ‘glamour’ of my previous job may seem like a downward step to some, especially those who don’t know me. For me, though, it’s the chance to have my own life again, to carve out a future with my family and spend time with the passions that fuel me but have had to be put on the back burner for years as work became more and more consuming.
It was a bittersweet goodbye. I got choked up thinking of the people who I like at work who I’ll miss seeing everyday. Then, I think of the folks who made it miserable to work there, be they certain colleagues or management.
I could have left on a bitter note, given the challenges placed before me by corporate higher-ups during my transition. However, I decided I was going to leave the better person and just finish out the time, a full six weeks. I gave too much of myself over the years to have it all end badly. Besides, I was allowed the opportunity to say my proper goodbyes to the audience and my friends and colleagues, a day which I will remember fondly.
I’ll miss many of the people, but I honestly won’t miss the stressful drudgery or the lack of compassion or common sense that ran rampant there.
The day that I left my news job, Meg found this cartoon online. While not the exact same situation, it pretty much summed up everything about how I was feeling as of late when it comes to having the life drained out of you by work and not living your life:
My driver side and passenger side door were open.
“That’s odd,” I thought, as I loaded the baby’s bags in the backseat. That’s when something hit me to check the arm rest compartment. I opened it and found that, yep, my GPS and other items inside were gone.
Someone had broken into my car.
I’m not even quite sure if broken into is the correct term. Look, I’m normally a pretty paranoid person. Once I’m in the house and before bed, I’ll peek out the window and double check the car locks with my remote. This is the one night I didn’t, for whatever reason, and it’s the one night someone got into my car.
You know, I’m not even angry about it. I called police, I told them what was taken – a GPS which I haven’t been using much anyway since getting a smartphone, some phone charger cords and a key ring with discount tags for various stores and some odds and ends keys. This part had me concerned. There was nothing from the house on the key chain, but if they took it, what’s to say they didn’t take it with the intention of coming back and trying to use those keys?
It just really bothers me to know that while my family slept, someone was in our driveway and going through my car.
Needless to say, I’ve adopted my more paranoid-type ways with car locks in the days since.
It turned out to be a less than stellar day. Work was terrible (not because of the work itself, mostly because I have one co-worker who makes it a mission to treat me like less than a human being…why is that too much to ask of a colleague in a workplace?) and that day I also ended up finding out that a book deal I was to be a part of ending up falling through. It was something that, while I wasn’t depending on, I’ll admit I had daydreamed about, knowing its paycheck would have helped eliminate two out of my three remaining student loans and help open the door to a little more financial freedom in our future.
So, in every sense of the word, I felt broken into, broken down and beaten down. It was not my finest hour (or 24 hours as the case may be) and I will admit an incredible sense of frustration and violation.
Is this the type of man I want my son to see growing up? Someone who was once ready to conquer the world with boundless energy, but is taken down by the actions or words of others, be it the break in of the car or just a beat down at work?
No, it’s not.
So, with that in mind, my pity party is done, and i am pulling up the bootstraps and continuing on.
Thanks for listening.
I’ve mentioned previously here and there that I work in a newsroom by day. That can have some pretty high-energy days, but can certainly have some depressing ones based on the content.
This is what awaited me at my day job Wednesday.
As I had to read the words of this story during a newscast, I was feeling physically ill inside from the entire situation and the questions, possibilities and theories that go along with it.
This may look a little familiar if you’ve seen cable or network news in the past few days, as the story has now gone national. It started here, though, right in my own hometown.
The day this happened, I came into work late. I had been volunteering at a fundraiser breakfast for a local historical society with my wife and little boy in attendance. As we left, I got a text message from my boss: “police press conference. Missing baby.”
My heart sank as I looked in the backseat and saw my little guy, only two months older than this child. When I eventually got to work and started the newscast, I was dumbfounded.
The mother was gone before the child disappeared. The father hadn’t reported the kid missing for two weeks. Two weeks?! And he did so only after a confrontation about the child’s whereabouts from grandparents who were getting suspicious?!
I follow our little guy around the living room afraid he might bump his head, and someone left a baby out on a porch by themselves at nine months old? Things don’t add up, the police have admitted it doesn’t add up, and the saga and search continues as the national media begin to turn their spotlight on our area.
If something DID happen to this child, as is often being implied or theorized, I can’t help but wonder why things are so unfair. We have friends who are going through hoops and hoops in an effort to adopt. They have all the love in the world to give and are going through everything to be deemed acceptable for it to happen. Yet, there are parents giving birth to children who they won’t give an ounce of care or attention to. I just don’t understand it.
Not that my wife and I ever feel like we take our son for granted, but it generated a lot of conversation between the two of us about just how lucky we are.
He may have bad days (don’t we all?) and he may be a bit challenging, but even on his worst days, we are still do incredibly blessed that he is here and he is safe and he is with us.
Hug your little ones extra tight tonight, please. I know I did.
It’s been my first day returning to work following the arrival of our little guy.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and I understand the necessity of it, as being without a job and an income is not exactly helpful to my wife, or my son. So, there is an inherent sense of responsibility that comes along with the little man.
While I wasn’t looking forward to it, I know it hit Meg very hard as I left this morning. With tears in her eyes, and our little boy in her arms, they said goodbye to me for the day and waved to me out the window.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to spend ten days with them since his birth, and they have been the best ten days of my life so far. I dreaded the countdown with each day that meant that I wouldn’t be around to help with his diapers, get laundry done while she nursed, or do the dishes when she tried to rest for a few minutes during his naps.
I’ve spent these ten days building an incredible bond with this little person, and strengthened the bond with my wife. So, leaving that behind this morning and heading back into the newsroom where I work has not been the easiest of transitions.
However, while it’s given me a great amount of sadness, it has also given me a great amount of motivation. It inspires me to work even harder, become even more dedicated, to creating a quality of life for my family that is better than what we have. It has made me realize that what stands between me and being a write-from-home dad and husband instead of a write-from-the-newsroom dad is my own dedication and motivation. I want my son to know that doing what you enjoy in life is more than just what people say, it’s something that can be yours. I want him to see from the example I will set that you can create your own career destiny.
Don’t get me wrong, as I know sometimes, it could be taken that I “hate my job,” which is not the case. I have a great boss, and I make a decent living (or at least enough to get by with the student loan debt I unfortunately have). However, it’s never been where my passion lies. I set out to be a writer. Yes, I write, but it’s a more technical form of writing or re-writing of other people’s work throughout the day. What I want, though, is that dream of writing from my home office, of being there for my family while still earning a living for them.
You can want something until the cows come home, and yes, you can work on it a little here and a little there. However, forming a plan, knowing the path, knowing what you need to get there, and most importantly, having those motivations, those people who you want to do it for, that’s an entirely different thing all together.
They’ve given me something to strive for, and I aim to reach it.