Today, I am unemployed. Last night, with my brother leading the sports efforts, I put the paper together then to bed. I wrapped up my career at the Capital Journal quietly and quickly.
My job at the newspaper was just supposed to be a side gig. I was going to write a few stories, edit and help the paper build its social media presence. I wasn’t going to let reader comments bother me or let the workload consume my life. It would just be another job, nothing monumental.
I set these parameters because of this on-going love-hate relationship I have with journalism. I can’t settle on whether I want to be a journalist or not. When I am doing it, I hate it. When I am not doing it, I miss it. Journalism brings out the best and worst in me and I can’t quite make a decision on what role I want it to play in my life. Do other people struggle with their chosen professions this way or am I insane? I assume the latter. Peace Corps was supposed to be a break from it, time to make the decision. Then, when I came home, I thought working at the newspaper temporary would give me clarity. But I had to not let it consume my life.
My job would not become my life.
Then the flood happened.
Then 70-hour weeks. Then nagging emails about each little mistake made under my byline (always grammatical, never factual). Then the guilt to write every story and release every bit of information. Then the feelings of inadequacy that I would and could never be a great journalist.
It did become my life. Again, reporting was my identity.
Despite the internal struggle, I did produce some pieces that I’m proud of. And, I can’t count the number of times I was stopped by figures from my childhood who just needed to tell me, “I love your writing.” To be told that as many times as I was this summer is a downright gift from God.
Now, it’s over. Four months felt like 12. The distraction of work is no longer there, hiding the giant fear of Lesotho and returning to the Peace Corps. This morning, without a job to attend to, my spinning thoughts woke me up. Worry over money, the never-ending to do-list and how the hell I am going to get on plane and start this all over beat me down. With work, I could put it off. But the reporting has ended and the countdown to departure is now more real than ever before.
Four years ago, when I graduated college, I would’ve thrown rocks at you if you told me I would one day be at home reporting for the Capital Journal. It’s an experience that I’m thankful for. I worked with a wonderful group of people to make a difference. This is how I was meant to spend my time between services, and a way, I could see this job as partial reason for my return.
Looking back at the flood, I realize that I couldn’t have just filled sandbags. I would need to be in the thick of it, telling stories. Because no matter if I pursue a journalism career after the Peace Corps or it ends here, telling stories is what I do.