When I was 13, I was given a journal as a gift. For a while, I made entries in it fairly regularly. In later years, they became more and more sporadic. By college, I was lucky if I made one or two entries a month. Nowadays, I can’t tell you the last time I wrote anything down in it — I know I haven’t made any entries since my kids were born.
Recently I made the mistake of re-reading it.
Wow. I know everyone is their own worst critic, but I must say that after re-reading my pompous high school words, I wish I had a time machine to go back and slap myself. I was so self-righteous, so self-absorbed and absolutely sure that I was going to conquer the world.
My career ambitions haven’t changed much over the years. I have always wanted to be a writer. But apparently somewhere along the way something went awry. According to my much younger self, by now I was supposed to be a staff writer for the New York Times with a couple of Pulitzers under my belt.
I had envisioned a trendy Manhattan apartment that I would rarely see due to frequent assignments to exotic locations around the world to report on important global issues. I had a vision of a “Woodward and Bernstein” type relationship with my co-workers and secret sources. I was positive that I would bring down a presidency or two.
It’s funny how your perception of success changes over the years. I never envisioned myself married with a house, a dog, a mortgage, and two kids. I wanted the life of excitement. I wanted to travel, to learn new languages, to have adventures and to drink my martinis shaken, not stirred.
To someone not in the business, the life of a journalist is very glamorous.
My friends seem to think that it all revolves around back stage passes, lunches with influential people and constantly having the “inside scoop.” (It doesn’t.) My parents seem to think my job involves inherent danger — like I’m reporting from some war torn country instead of small town South Carolina. (I’m not.) My youngest brother calls me “Lois Lane.” (Not even close.)
Now don’t get me wrong, Lois is a very cool character but she is fiction after all and the truth is that there are very few “Lex Luthors” out there for me — or anyone else — to try and take down. It’s much more practical to simply write about local government and Little League teams.
Honestly, being a journalist is much like like every other job out there. You put in the hours, do the research and then spend countless hours in front of a computer screen developing a product.
I look back at my 13-year-old self and wonder if she would consider me a failure. After all, I didn’t do any of the things that seemed so important to her.
I snagged a few press association awards last year, but that’s hardly a Pulitzer. My house is certainly bigger than a standard New York flat, but I doubt that it could be called “trendy” even by the kindest interior decorator. My passport has very few stamps in it and not one is work related.
But I’m happy. Our publications may not garner national interest but I’m proud of them. My byline may not read “Staff Reporter for the Times” but it’s still a byline. And you know what they say: Find a way to get paid for what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
So I guess I’m on vacation.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.