What I’m Not
A few months ago, I was taking stock of what the next step should be in my career. I seriously considered getting my master’s in journalism.
But when I asked journalists whom I trusted, they advised against it. They told me I could be a journalist without getting an advanced degree. It wasn’t worth the money that would be spent on the education.
I was torn. Having #studentdebtlikewhoa, not spending more money and still going after what I wanted was appealing. And I have long respected journalists, probably both those with degrees and those without. But for me personally, journalism has always felt like a foreign language. And I am not very good at learning new languages. In 2012, I started a website called The Bomb Shelter that featured good and surprising news. It was supposed to be fun and off-the-cuff. And maybe it was for readers, but writing it felt like pulling my own teeth. Which, surprisingly, I have never enjoyed. I did write some pieces I was proud of. One on the art of dumpster diving and another on the Real, Live Lorax. But I couldn’t not interject my own personal stories in the narrative. I just freaking love talking about myself!
These last couple months have been rough. We, in the #nevertrump camp are mourning. Part of me wanted to disengage and log out of all social media channels. But another part found comfort in comforting others. Krista Tippett tweeted right after the election that “those of us safe enough to muster gracious and open hearts must do this on behalf of those of whom that is too much to ask.” I read that as an empowering call to action. I spent the first 36 hours post-election attempting to do just that on Facebook and Twitter. But I also felt compelled to write outside of those channels. I wished I was a “real journalist.”
In a podcast titled, “How to Think about the News” Rob Bell talked about the difference between journalism and media. Journalism is a sacred, necessary act of truth-telling and exposing truth, lies, and corruption. Media, on the other hand, he described as a “billion dollar hairball.” Sounds about right.
Listening to him, I realized something that felt incredibly freeing: I am not a journalist! That’s not my lane. I am an inspirer. I’m a truth-teller of a different sort. Mostly, I tell truths that have bubbled up from my own stories and seem like they might be relevant to more than just me. Neither one is better or worse than the other. BUT, here’s the funny thing: when I try to be a “real journalist” without having done the work of learning how, I slip dangerously down into the media hairball landslide. Which is gross, if nothing else.
And so, I’m stoked. I am excited to go and do the work that is mine to do. Which, it turns out, includes talking about myself!
What is not your job? What is? In the aftermath of this crazy election, what are you here to do? What other gig might you need to let go of to do it? Cheers to THAT.