“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
—Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
I blame my absence on the holidays. I feel like I was sucked into a vortex mid-December and I’ve only just now managed to stumble out. As a welcome back to PSA, here’s another life update:
When a new year rolls around, people have a tendency to look ahead. A new year means a fresh start. Resolutions are made at an unhealthy rate: “This year, I’m going to lose 50 pounds, I’m going to find a better job, I’m going to meet the man of my dreams!” (Those may or may not be mine.) We’re so busy looking forward that we forget to look back. And that just so happens to be my favorite part of December 31.
In looking back, we can see how far we’ve come. In January 2013, I was living with my grandparents in New Jersey. They’re darling people, but they lead very boring lives. I had cabin fever when I wasn’t out covering an assignment. I was starting to show symptoms of what would become my quarter-life crisis in precisely four months’ time. I’d been a freelance reporter for an online newspaper for nine months and I was beginning to realize that I hated it (YOU try living off of $15-25 assignments). But I’d already re-located, so what could I do? Stick it out, of course. That only lasted another month before I started job searching again. I lucked into a part-time staff writer position for a cluster of papers—I had my own desk in a big, beautiful, bustling newsroom! In my third week (my TENTH day), I was unceremoniously fired. Don’t even get me started on that bullshit. That was in April. They’d made me quit my freelance job and I had done so in a manner that didn’t do me any favors with my ex-boss, so I couldn’t go back. I was stuck. Thus began my quick descent off the deep end.
My life took a 180 in July when I got my new and present gig. I’ve mentioned the middle bit before: the unemployment, the moving back home, the car, etc. I think it’s safe to say that was my crisis. It was my rock bottom. I was 25 and lost and miserable. But I’m proud to say I survived.
My modest little job now has changed my life in leaps and bounds. I’ll forever owe a debt of gratitude to my boss, a mere three years ahead of me in life, who took a chance on me and changed the course of the dangerous road I was headed down. (You don’t think unemployment depression is a thing? Oh, but it is.) This particular newspaper may not be something I’d look twice at if I didn’t write for it, but I’ve still poured three years’ worth of pent-up ambition and creativity into it. I’ve met incredible people and it is literally the joy of my life when I get to tell their stories and see that my work has had a positive impact on their lives somehow—like the runner trying to raise money for brain-injured children who called to tell me he finally started receiving phone calls from people wanting to sponsor him after the papers went out. Or the man who organizes an annual motorcycle ride to benefit Dream Come True in memory of his deceased daughter, who wrote me to say that my words brought him to tears. Or the woman desperately trying to bring suicide prevention awareness to her town because she lost her son six years ago and still doesn’t know why; she told me she reached out to a number of media outlets in the area, but I was the only one who responded.
Every time I sit down with someone and they tell me their story and I then turn around and tell my current little corner of the world, it reaffirms what I’ve always believed: this is what I was born to do. I felt it when I was 8 and I still feel it now. And I’m incredibly lucky to be so sure that I’ve found my purpose in life.
But it hasn’t all been sob stories. I’ve also gotten to do some really cool things, things that can only happen when you #PartyLikeAJournalist. I got a free motorcycle ride, attended a media party at Eastern State Penitentiary, flew in a tiny airplane, and much more. In fact, I’m getting a free palm reading this upcoming week from a “psychic.” All in a day’s work. 😉
That’s enough for now. Throughout all the ups and downs of 2013, one thing has stayed the same: my love of entertainment. Who do you think kept me company during those months of misery? My girls, Lorelai and Buffy and Topanga, that’s who. And who made those long summer nights fly by? Why, the Walker clan, of course. I’ll be getting around to posting PSAs on the reg again hopefully this week. I’ve got some great ideas and I’m excited to write some fun stuff.