On “leaving” journalism.

captureThis past Thursday, my new team members and I all went out for lunch. (Sushi buffet. If you know me, you know I was pretty stoked about that. And it was delicious.) I’d already met each of them in my initial orientation, but this was an opportunity to get to know them better now that we’ll be working more closely together.

On our drive back to the office, my new manager asked me a bit about my background, what jobs I’d had before this, etc. I started to explain my history of jumping from magazine internship to online reporting to editing newspapers. Then she asked:

“So did you purposely leave journalism?”

rachel-huh-face

And that struck a deep, deep chord, man. I fumbled with my answer a bit, saying I wanted to do something with my career that was a little more reliable and paid better, while still allowing me to write and also bring me into a cause I’m passionate about (helping the cute and fuzzies of the world). It’s the explanation I typically give people who ask why I made this particular career move. It may even be the explanation I gave in the job interview. And yes, it’s the explanation I tell myself when I wonder and hope that I made the right move. (I have very limited experience with marketing, after all.) But did I purposely leave journalism … that question stuck with me throughout the rest of the day. And I’m clearly still thinking about it, so I came here to hash it out.

Have I left journalism? Continue reading “On “leaving” journalism.”

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On rolling with the punches.

In my first week or so with The HSUS, after I really started getting to know who everyone is and what they do and got to see firsthand how the different departments work together and how easy it seemed to be to get to try new things and move into different roles, I thought … OK, this is really cool. Is this web thing really what I have my heart set on, nah, but it’s kind of fun and I’m learning new things and I get to do a ton of copy editing. Maybe after a year or two of doing this and coming out on the other side of this awesome redesign, I’ll start looking into moving around. Social media fiend that I am, it could be really fun to do that for a while. Or maybe a spot will open up with the magazines. I could be here a long time testing out all different roles and departments. Sweet!

Turns out, I didn’t have to wait long at all before that happened.

I hesitate to call it a promotion, per se, though I did blast that out over Facebook because it’s easier than explaining the actual situation. (If my salary goes up, it will be, technically!) I’ve been reassigned.
Continue reading “On rolling with the punches.”

On asking for help.

My dad (with a plethora of tools) was here for the past couple days, beautifying my apartment. I came home from work Friday afternoon to find my bedroom decked out in the exact same shade of rich teal that it had been at home. It went from feeling like a hotel room to my room almost instantaneously. We hung my curtains, some shelves, some posters and knick-knacks, and now I smile every time I walk in. (The living room is another story—no frills, no furniture, just my TV and a love seat I bought on clearance. That’ll be a work in progress for a looong time, but if you can’t relax in your own bed, that’s a bigger issue.)

Rapunzel-PaintingA friend of mine scoffed when I said my dad was painting my place. (Whatever, Jen!) And I get it—you get the big girl apartment, you should do the big girl home improvement by yourself—but I think it’s fair to know your own limitations and me plus a ladder plus nine-foot ceilings and the potential to make an obscene mess would just be the worst combination ever. Plus, I suspect my dad has been secretly waiting for me to get my own place just so he could come be Mr. Handyman. 😉 Right, Dad?

Asking for help is hard. I certainly struggle with it. Sometimes it’s a matter of pride, other times it’s about hating feeling like a charity case. When I need—and receive—financial help, it usually drives me to tears because it’s an uncomfortable mix of overwhelming gratitude and bitter resentment that I had to ask in the first place. I imagine feeling this way isn’t all that uncommon. I think people who struggle with it, like me, are the same type of people who struggle with feeling a sense of failure. If you have to ask for help, it means you couldn’t do it yourself. There’s no worse feeling to those of us who are fiercely independent. And as someone so attuned to that feeling, it’s sometimes really hard to follow my own advice, but I’m about to give it anyway—in this industry and this economy, you just have to get over that shit. Continue reading “On asking for help.”

On breaking out of your comfort zone.

I guess you could say I was sort of a shy kid. I had fun with my friends, but I suffered from some pretty intense self-consciousness when there was potential to embarrass myself in front of strangers, cute boys, or the “cool” kids. (Gym class, naturally, was a living nightmare.)

Today’s sometimes crippling insecurities are masked by a self-deprecating sense of humor and years of experience teaching me that more often than not, I am indeed going to embarrass myself so I should just learn to laugh about it. I wouldn’t call myself a klutz; it’s more that I just walk around with my over-caffeinated editor’s brain never quite turned off. Being so detail-oriented leads to more than a few *oops* moments—I’m so focused on the pretty leaves that I don’t realize I’m about to walk into a tree. Continue reading “On breaking out of your comfort zone.”

On introductions.

Let’s go back in time a bit, shall we?

I was born December 17, 1987, in Freehold, New Jersey … just kidding. Not that far back. No, I want to rewind just two months.

13557903_10100607022898548_1853962814130956190_nTwo months ago, in late June, I was spending my days lying on an idyllic beach in Aruba with my family. I woke up, had my coffee, wandered down to the sand with a good book, and wiled away the hours doing absolutely nothing. I’d been waiting for this respite from the daily bullshit for a long time—things at work were becoming increasingly unpleasant and I’d been waiting and hoping (barely breathing, to be honest) to receive news regarding a big-time job interview. So this break beneath the palm trees should’ve been everything I needed and more.

Instead, I found myself unable to ignore a nearly insurmountable level of stress and I say that as someone who happens to handle stress very well. When we flew home, I discovered that I’d inadvertently lost 8 lbs. on that island. (Some of which was probably from sweating so much, but still.)

13510876_1226719430681033_8972632654416934192_nI’d found out I was about to get fired. And I still hadn’t heard anything back from the job interview. It felt like my life was falling apart and there was nothing I could do but watch. Since this blog is just beginning, most of the readers here will know the details of that sordid story. I made a decision and did what I could to get the cards to fall in my favor. Clearly it worked or I wouldn’t be writing this now and there’s no point in ranting about it all over again. (But stay tuned for a future post about how to turn a potential termination into a swift resignation.)

Skip ahead one month to late July. One month ago today, to be exact, when I was introduced to my next chapter, having slapped the book shut on the last one (and set said book on fire).

Six years (six!) post-grad and finally living in my own apartment. I didn’t just move out, I moved out of the damn state. Close enough for visits, but just far enough to prevent surprise visits. 😉 I landed in a massive nonprofit. A national magazine? No, but a national organization with global reach—and they do have magazines. In fact, I’ve already written for one of them. Writing about entertainment? No, writing about animal welfare. Living in New York? Living outside of D.C. Life’s funny. You don’t always get what you want, but sometimes what you want isn’t what you need. Continue reading “On introductions.”