This life I chose really chose me

I’ve been reflecting on this an awful lot lately…trying to figure out how to explain the unexplainable to people who just don’t get it, don’t understand why I don’t look for other work when I complain about work.

I’m a journalist. I’ve endured abusive editors (in the past), had my life threatened (more than once) and live paycheck to paycheck (barely).

And, when I talk about work at times, there’s anger bubbling under the surface, threatening to erupt quite often and mostly presenting itself as tears of frustration. And the single most common reaction I get to it is “So, find another job” or “Well, sounds like it’s time to start looking.”

Here’s the thing: It’s not as easy as all that. I do not make widgets. I cannot go from making widgets for brand x to making them for brand y.

I am in a career that doesn’t pay well and often leaves me feeling used and disrespected. But I didn’t choose it. It chose me.

We journalists (the good ones at least) are a passionate sort. We.Love.What.We.Do. We feel passionately about what we do. We truly believe in what we do.

In many, many ways it’s like that lover who leaves you blissful and spent in the moment but in the long run leaves you miserable and hating yourself for what you did.

I have the fortune (or misfortune, depending upon your perspective) of having discovered this is my passion at a young age. A promise to my mother on her death bed found me working public/community relations for a hospital. It was a far worse relationship because it left me unfulfilled in a different way. I simply cannot do it.

Like many of my co-workers, it’s not fear that I don’t have any other skill sets with which to seek other employment (I do), it’s that there isn’t any other way I’d rather apply my skills. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.

So, the next time you hear a journalist bitching about their day, don’t suggest they find a new job. Acknowledge their frustration and extend your understanding. Or, shut the hell up and just listen like you mean it. And buy ’em a drink.

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5 thoughts on “This life I chose really chose me

  1. It’s great to be passionate about your work. It’s also great to be passionate about your health. I’m not suggesting you find another job, but maybe there’s some type of coping strategies you can try to help ease the tension?

    • That depends on what works for you, what works in your work situation, etc. I worked in surgery as a surgical tech. Not the same as you, but def stressful for various reasons. One of the biggest things that brought me (and everyone else within earshot) down was the constant bitching and cattiness of the women I worked with (and it was way too much estrogen on a small space…) Anyway, the last place I worked was so bad, I had to stop eating and taking breaks in the break room. I would eat in the cafeteria, next to a window (surgery was in the basement so no sense of time or natural light), by myself and read a book to discourage others from sitting by me. When I had surgeons throwing temper tantrums and objects and screaming at me, I would remind myself it’s only a job and this asshole means nothing to me. Does this tantrum reflect the type of person I am? No. It shows everyone in the room this surgeon is a jerk who acts like a toddler. Quietly and calmly telling the screamer it is not ok to talk to me that way helps (sometimes…). Taking deep breaths help. Squeezing a stress ball (if you’re not wearing sterile gloves like I was…I had to just squeeze the handle of the scalpel. LOL!), taking a brisk walk down the hall and back, step outside for a moment, get objects or pictures for your desk that make you feel calm, happy, or make you laugh, vigorous exercise during off hours. But I really believe it’s part physical and part mental. Once I was able to control my thoughts (VERY important!) and emotions, life got much easier and better for me. I choose to be optimistic (how can I make this situation POSITIVE) calm and happy because this crap ultimately doesn’t matter. Choosing to be negative about a situation ultimately makes it even more negative. Anyway…that’s my really long reply about coping.

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