On leaving print journalism

Ever since I was 15, there was only one thing I ever wanted to do: be a reporter. I remember sitting in career day in high school, and the speaker for journalism was Neil Hayes, a sports columnist from the Contra Costa Times. He talked about flying back and forth between Anaheim and San Francisco while covering the World Series.

I was hooked.

I wanted that job and started to get more serious about writing for the school paper.

(cross-posted at http://newshoundsreinvented.wordpress.com/stories/)

From then on, I sacrificed a lot of my personal life with the goal of someday becoming a beat writer for a pro or college sports team. I didn’t party or study in college. I was too busy working. I figured it would all pay off. I ignored advice to find a different field or have a backup plan. Being a journalist was plans A through Z.

Throughout my journalism career, I kept sacrificing my personal life, stressing out over stories that no one would probably read the next day. I worked through burnouts. As I watched friends from high school and college go on vacations around the world while I lived paycheck-to-paycheck, I started to think: there’s got to be something better out there for me.

After a while, I made the decision to find something outside of journalism. I’m worth it. Whether it was PR or really anything else, I wanted to have my nights free and a few extra dollars in my account. I absolutely loved my coworkers, but I had to take care of myself at some point.

It took me a while to stop thinking that leaving journalism was an admission of failure. I have friends who went on to achieve amazing things at newspapers, and I felt left behind because my career didn’t take off. I initially felt that leaving journalism was erasing all of the hard work.

It isn’t. I was able to transfer my writing skills and social media savvy into a new career.

Luckily, I found an amazing job with a social media company. From the start, it was apparent that this was a completely new life for me. Instead of fearing wage freezes and cutbacks and layoffs, I’ve been able to watch as this company has been hiring people since I started. I have great benefits for the first time in my life, so I don’t have to check my balance before making the decision to go to the doctor or get a check-up at the dentist. Everyone I talk to is excited and happy. Days where I have a harsh email or nasty comment are few and far between.

I’m not worried anymore. I can focus on my personal development. It’s all I could ever ask for. I’m truly happy.

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