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.