As I enter my second month at Ecodesk, it has occurred to me that I am slowly changing my opinion of what it is I want to do after graduation.
Its a daunting thought. I have spent the last seven years of my life working and fighting (with real blood, sweat and tears at some points) to clamber up the ladder, or more like just get on it, and now I am having doubts. My personal life has suffered at several points during this journey, and at the moment I feel like this is the only reason I am still entertaining the idea of becoming a journalist; for it not all to have been for nothing.
I like to think I am now definitely on the ladder. Although that in itself is a great achievement, in many ways it also means the hard work has only just begun. I have been successful in a leap, now I need to climb. This may come across as me being lazy, or defeatist, or even pessimistic… but in reality, it is realism.
Working so hard for the last seven years has come at a massive price to other areas of my life, and I just don’t know if that is what I want for my future. Journalism is a 24hr job, one that could include world travel at the drop of a hat and being recognised across the world for your work.
These used to be the reasons that I wanted more than anything to work as a reporter, but the realism is, these are all factors you can handle when you are young, but as you get older stability is more of an attractive prospect.
I know I am not old my any sense of the word, but I am getting to the stage in my life where soon I will want a home, a partner, and a place to build a family. These have always been important to my ‘life plan’ so to speak without sounded too Bridget Jones, but whilst chasing by vocational dream the practicalities of how these to would interact fell by the wayside.
The trouble with journalism is that it isn’t until you are a veteran of the trade that you get to choose your projects, locations and work schedules. I cannot wait until I am 50 to guarantee I will be home at a reasonable hour, I can’t even manage bar work any more for Christ’s sake.
This is the part I will be accused of pessimism, and actually is a thought prism that I abhor in others. There is a very strong probability that my work will NEVER have any great significance The other main romanticism aspiring journalists subscribe to is the hope that one day, their report will make a huge change in the world. This was certainly my main prerogative when deciding upon a career trajectory – something which still stands.
In a ‘news’ saturated world thanks to the advance of mobile technologies, there is an ever decreased need and budget of on the ground journalists. I am of firm belief there will always be newspapers, and by continuation always be some proper hardcore newshounds digging the facts for others to retweet, reproduce and reuse. But this is an ever increasingly closed ‘club’ and journalistic virtues and altruism alone are not significant enough membership criterion.
Realistically , nothing is ever for nothing. What I have learnt about myself and how I have grown throughout this journey are big parts of who I am today. So what does this mean for me now?
I will continue to promote myself as a freelance writer out of work hours, as the word ‘freelance’ omits many of the above problems, and the word ‘writer’ is far less restrictive than ‘journalist’. Moving forth, I will also place more of an emphasis on other areas of writing, such as books, CVs, short stories, and not forgetting blogging. I have always loved the art of writing, and I always will, and the same goes for journalism. I just wont be striving towards a PAYE position at The Guardian, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will still have an opinion to be shared even if it is on a smaller scale.
I am even erring more to the side of column writing. I think I could make a great columnist as a sideline to full time job, either for a local rag, a national, or a high profile blog such as the Huffington Post. Something which I will explore more as part of my work as kbwritingservices.
This past month has also taught me that writing is a little like having a husband who is a chef… once at home your passion to write/cook what you want is gone. And it is depressing. I believe I am good enough at what I do to make it, I am just not sure if it is what I want in the long term. I never have been very good at working to other peoples agenda which is a big barrier to becoming the international journalist I once aspired to be.
My work at A4e re-opened my eyes to the fact there are many vocational avenues one can travel down that help people. Moreover, than I do not have to choose one yet. Uni is the time for learning and evolving, not following cast iron plans.
It is OK not to know exactly what you want to do, as dreams grow, they change. I know the journey, I am just unsure of the destination, and more often than not… this the best kind of travelling.