A wake-up call
January 3rd, 2011 by Stephanie Vermillion
Several weeks ago while babysitting the journalistic spirit inside of me was woken up by the simple words of a nine-year-old girl.
“Guess what, Stephanie.”
“I can’t guess what if I don’t know what I’m guessing,” I replied in my usual pretend I’m listening, come up with some response that’s too confusing to answer so I can get back to homework tone of voice. She didn’t falter.
“When I grow up I’m going to move to New York City and be an editor,” she said.
Well, that caught my attention more than I had expected. There sitting in front of me was myself circa 1997, with the notion that I can do anything I want anywhere I want.
Instead of telling her what a great idea that was, the now 22-year-old in me came out asking the hard questions.
How are you going to afford housing? You know to reach an editor position it takes at least five years of experience, right? Have you started looking for internships? They won’t even consider you with out intern experience. Have you looked at other options considering how down the journalism industry is right now? Have you started making contacts in the business? Do you have a back up plan?
Fortunately only one of those questions verbally surfaced before the conversation stopped and she was onto another episode of “Glee,” but I couldn’t get it off my mind.
When did I lose that youthful notion that I can conquer the Big Apple? In fourth grade I had my career set: I was going to be a journalist for a magazine in New York City.
But as we get older our childhood dreams fade and turn into grown up, logical life plans, including salaries, housing payments, transportation and eventually supporting families. And to me this all makes perfect sense, but that day babysitting I found myself questioning where is the fun in that, where is the spark in not knowing if you’ll make it or not?
A few weeks after my divine babysitting intervention, I began thinking about this again, but in a different light where I was no longer questioning myself. Sure, the idea of tackling the journalist’s Mecca — New York City — is enticing, but maybe following logic to an affordable one bedroom apartment not infested with mice or a job that allows for family visits on the holidays isn’t such a bad idea after all.
As journalists, or students aspiring to all sorts of career paths, we are taught to shoot for the moon and not stop until we get there. But now as the real world is actually at my fingertips I’m starting to realize that maybe landing among the stars isn’t such a bad thing after all if it means more time for family and friends.
And I know that little girl inside of me who dreamed of everything glitter, glam and National Geographic won’t fail me as I push myself to be the best in the career I end up in and in the life I choose.