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I chose journalism

Last week I received a Facebook message from a reporter I worked with at the Stater a few years back. He said he was glad to hear about my job, and that he’d visited my blog and learned I had been interested in science and math. He was surprised I’d made the choice to be a journalist and is “still surprised you chose not to do science/math.” For him journalism was the back-up career path, but he figured, in his words “journalism’s my only true talent,” which is why he didn’t pursue something else.

I doubt this is true, as I know him to have other skills he could easily have lobbied into a career. But it made me realize something I hadn’t thought of since I was in high school.

I chose journalism. This might seem like an obvious statement — Yeah no crap you chose journalism, you just spent three and a half years and 60 grand getting a degree in it. — but bear with me.

I chose it. As in, I had the choice between journalism and something else. Not just something, lots of somethings. In fact, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life this was my biggest hindrance. I was good at math and science. I was also good at English and history. I was also a varsity athlete, a peer mentor, a member of the drama club, a library assistant, a budding photographer, a freelance Web designer and much much more.

It wasn’t just the propaganda they spit at you as a kid to build your self-esteem. I truly felt that I could do and be anything I wanted to be… except maybe a reporter.

As I have often told people, I chose journalism expecting to fail. I used to be afraid to walk up to an associate at the store and ask where something was. I used to cry when my mom made me order pizza over the phone. I wasn’t shy so much as I had serious anxiety about looking or sounding dumb.

Journalism helped me get over this. It helped me become a better person. Besides being able to carry a conversation with just about anyone, I now see connections in the world where previously I never would have.

I always felt a little bad that journalism wasn’t a “calling” as it appears to be for many of my friends. I do think anyone brave enough (or dumb enough) to go into this field has to have some of the “save the world” mentality. The comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable mindset, however that saying goes.

As I say in the about me page on this site, what I learned as I began to develop as a journalist is that I can take all those skills and talents I once saw as a hindrance to deciding my career fate and apply them to my job as a reporter. I can’t think of any other path that I could say that about.

So, I’m not surprised I didn’t go into science/math or worried that I settled for my back-up plan. I’m 21. It’s too early to be on my back-up plan.

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