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Does this job define you? (Long)

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Pulitzer Wannabe, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. Reading another thread where someone offered the time-tested aphorism: Your job is what you do. It's not what you are.

    As I begin to seriously ponder for the first time in my life leaving newspapering, and at the very least daily sports journalism, I'm having a lot of trouble applying that philosophy.

    I guess I HAVE let this define me for the past two decades, and now I feel kind of trapped. From the time I was 4 or 5 years old, I was the one watching the football game with the men on Thanksgiving while the other kids ran around playing with toys. I was the one who spent hours and hours sorting my baseball cards, and then writing cute little picture stories about the men on them. I seemed to be born to be a sports writer, and then that's what I became, and a relatively successful one at that.

    Which almost makes it worse, because sometimes - quite often - I feel ungrateful for even thinking about leaving this. But I want to try new things. Spend an entire year writing a book. Go back to school - law perhaps. Maybe circle back to this eventually if it truly is what I'm made to do. But here I sit in a hotel room in a great city on a road trip. Later this weekend, I'll spend three hours or so watching a game with a view and a seat and access that most people would only dream of. So even thinking about getting out feels like a betrayal of something. It would be easier if I really wasn't making it, particularly in others' eyes.

    This sounds dumb, but in a way I'm afraid that I'll lose friends and family if I stop doing this. Or at least baffle them. This summer, I told a friend what I said here - that I'm pondering other paths, at least temporarily. He lectured me at length about how, "You're a writer and a tremendous one. That's what you are." It feels like my identity is so tied into being "the sports writer" that there is no justification I can make for leaving that will make any sense to people. But life is short, and I am interested in a break from the route I've been on since I was a little kid.

    Anyone else deal with this when it comes to this profession? I assume so, as I recall, for example, the "There's the door" thread. And if you did leave, or else moved to news or found another way to practice this craft besides writing for a newspaper, how did you come out on the other end?
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    It defined me when I was younger... Now, not so much...

    People outside of the industry have no clue. I've heard the "That's what you are..." comments before and it's all complete bullshit...
  3. It's like ... because I collected baseball cards when I was 8, I must have found the perfect way to spend my life now.

    I know a lot of it is on me. I think I always used doing this as a social crutch - something to talk about with people. I didn't let them know much else about me a lot of times. Now it's tough to turn around and leave it because it's going to come off as some out-of-left-field mid-life crisis (it's not).
  4. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Active Member

    Yes. (short) [/smartass] :p

    In all honesty, I've struggled with these thoughts, too. Being a sports reporter is what I've wanted to do since ninth grade, and now that I'm fully immersed in the business, it's hard to imagine doing anything else. One thing that's kept me (relatively) sane is having a hobby that doesn't involve sports or writing, even though progressive steps up the newspaper food chain have left less and less time to enjoy it.

    I'll see your time-tested aphorism and raise you another: Life is too short to be unhappy. Do what's best for you. If your friends and family can't wrap their heads around that, then that's on them, not you. If they're any kind of friends and family, they'll understand and accept you for the person you are, not the job you hold.
  5. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    PW -

    You haven't really spelled out why you'd want to leave. You've suggested alternatives (write a book, go to law school), and suggested reasons for not leaving (family, friends).

    But what is it about the current job that's lately become unsatisfying?
  6. I think I'm extremely burned out on the pace of it. That and I'm someone who likes to always keep moving forward, and I feel like I've explored this to its logical conclusion for me. And I don't think it's grass-is-greener syndrome. I know news side isn't perfect. I know that law as a career has its drawbacks. As does authorship. Or whatever other career one considers.

    More than anything else, it seems that when I see that scrum develop around Joe Quarterback every weekend, or Joe Centerfielder in the summer, or whoever it might be, I find myself less and less interested in his answers.

    Also, and this is probably a big, big part of it - I feel like I've lost touch with the fan in me. Sports used to be such a fun escape from school while I was growing up, whether it was playing or watching. I absolutely couldn't wait for the day when I could just dedicate my waking hours to sports. But now I can't watch a terrific college basketball game without feeling like I'm at work, and I hate that.
  7. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    I'm hoping to get some smarter posters to weigh in here, but in the meantime:

    Are you burned out on the repetitious mechanics of newspaper writing?

    Or have you simply overdosed on sports?
  8. hockeybeat

    hockeybeat Guest

    I'm not one of the smarter posters here, but I do hope it's okay if I add my two cents.

    There are always going to be gang bangs around the Stud QB or Star Centerfielder. I think what makes the job satifsying is if you can find a story no one else has. A back up lineman. An anonymous middle reliever. The fourth-line winger from Flin Flon.

    That, to me, is when the job is fun. When you're going back and forth with someone the public doesn't know about and he or she tells you their story.
  9. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    That was excellent.

    You just have to do what makes you happy. Who gives a shit what others think. It's you and you alone.
  10. I would say in my younger days, this job defined me. I wanted to write two or three stories on my beat everyday, go to every game, talk to everyone, scoop everybody, etc. And at the time I was covering a team 300 miles away, and coverage was somewhat limited at times.

    Now, I'm covering a more significant team for my shop but I'm also getting ready to get married, start a family, etc. I still do my damnedest to do the best job I can, but my job doesn't define me and my daily life anymore.

    In a nutshell, I don't think anyone lies on their deathbed and says "I wish I covered more road games on my beat."
  11. Norman Stansfield

    Norman Stansfield Active Member

    I work to live, I don't live to work.

    There's a big difference.
  12. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Hey Pulitzer,

    Do what makes your heart happiest. After that, life gets much easier.

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