I am a big advocate for trying something new and stepping out of your comfort zone. I believe it grows you as a person and expands your knowledge. However, I have recently had a big life change and am really longing for the old and familiar, a place where I was confident. I know this drifting uncertainty will soon pass once I find my footing and rhythm.
I worked as a photojournalist for nearly 15 years at the same newspaper. In my new job, a man walked into our office with lots of simple questions. I unfortunately didn’t have the answer to any of them and everyone else was on break. At the newspaper, I was the person who knew the answer to everything. I was the person who people came to for answers. But that day I felt so helpless.
I could write cutlines (fancy newspaper word for captions) in my sleep. New reporters would come up to me and say, “how should I word this?”
“Oh, that’s simple, just say ….” I would answer them.
Or they would ask who was the best source for a story. “You need to call John Doe. Here, I’ve got his cell.” I could walk into a room, read the lighting and know exactly what setting I was going to need. ISO 400, F 3.5 at 125th of a second, bounce flash, should be good.
Now I’m the one asking all the questions. I’m in public relations and marketing, which is different but similar to journalism. So now I’m trying different angles and ideas to get the assignment just right.
And although I love my new job – and it is much better than my last – I believe trying new things is extremely beneficial to a person, I miss the confidence of having worked something for 14 years.
Some days I feel like a complete idiot. Then I get nervous and make mistakes that I shouldn’t be making. I get so worried about making a mistake that I get clumsy, and make a mistake. On those days I long for the person who could do her job in her sleep.
However doing my job in my sleep was part of the problem. I mean this almost quite literally. I got really tired of being called out of bed in the middle of the night to cover breaking news. Or worse, being called an hour before I woke up to cover a something that had been forgotten to be assigned.
“Can you be downtown in 15 minutes?”
“Ugh, I guess I won’t shower today,” I answer.
And also all the familiarity got so predictable. Covering the same events over and over got really old. There are only so many ways you can be creative in taking pictures of a car show, which I did twice a year for 14 years.
I also believe learning something new is good for your soul. It helps you find your true calling. And sometimes you may not know what your true calling is early in life.
As I sat in my News Writing 101 class and my professor began to teach us how to write a press release, she said, “OK now, pretend you are 35. You’ve done the daily newspaper thing for a while, you’re tired of the long nights, and you want steady hours.” I thought to myself that the person she described would never be me. Well you know what? At 35 I switched to PR for all those reasons she described.
I channeled myself into wanting one thing and I failed to take in other options. Now, I’m not saying that I made the wrong choice. I believe I had made all the right choices and am very happy with the path of my life, especially to where it has led me now.
I’m very happy in my job. I am loving learning new things, and in due time I’ll find my rhythm. I’m a quick learner.