I never thought I would be a reporter. In fact, I actively avoided it throughout the winding course of my schooling and career. It just wasn’t for me.
I came to realize that when I was just 11. At the time, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I also knew that my job options were limited. (This was a long, long time ago, before “social media guru” became an acceptable career path.) So I job shadowed one day with our local paper – and, oh god, what a torturous day that was. I mean, what could be more boring than the news?
I mean, I liked the prospect of knowing some juicy tidbit before everyone else did (yeah, I’m nosy), but the thought of walking up to strangers and asking them questions was more than my shy, introverted little self could bear.
My second experience with journalism wasn’t much better. There I was at my aunt and uncle’s funeral, minding my own business – crying, probably – when a reporter came up to me and started asking me questions. My mom rescued me, thankfully, but that moment has always stuck with me. What kind of person approaches a 13-year-old kid at a funeral?
So with journalism firmly out of my mind, I decided on a college course in professional writing. I had no idea what I would do with my education when I was done it, but I knew I wouldn’t be a journalist. Journalists go to j-school, after all.
Over the years, I’ve worked many jobs – transcribing phone interviews for a market research company, writing and editing a magazine, planning and strategizing in corporate communications roles, even researching bylaws and policies.
And it’s only now that I’ve realized that the hands-on experience I’ve gained in the course of my career – along with my personal propensity to ask a lot of questions – have led me to a perfect career.
As a reporter.
Every day, I get to do all of the things I enjoyed about my other jobs – interviewing people, transcribing sound files, researching issues, and writing articles – with less of the stuff I didn’t enjoy. And with my short attention span, writing articles on a two-week cycle gives me enough variety and short-term results that I never get bored.
Talking to new people is still scary sometimes, but as a reporter, you get to ask all sorts of questions, and people just answer them. Like, really. It’s made me realize I can do that in my everyday life and learn so many interesting things about people I know or have just met.
And I have the added benefit of working from home – an introvert’s dream, let me tell you. I’ve never been cut out for office politics, and there are none when your closest co-worker is an hour away (and, also, a lovely human being.)
No, I never set out to be a reporter – I even hesitated to make the career change – but life has a funny way of pushing you to just where you need to be.