I gripped my red reporter’s notebook and sat rigidly in a leather swivel chair at the end of a conference table. I jiggled my leg, anxiously waiting for Doug, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter.
He knows I’m young, I thought. He knows I’m a newbie. Truth was, I often feel more like a glorified news clerk than an actual reporter. Working only part-time at my paper, I often write briefs and club notes — and I don’t have my own beat.
I was excited for my one-on-one mentoring session with Doug. It was a chance to talk about my story ideas and develop my reporting skills. I hoped he’d give me advice on where to go with the stories, angles I wasn’t seeing, people I could talk to.
But Doug complimented my ideas and then said, “These are out of your reach.”
I felt like my chest swallowed itself.
I was hurt because Doug confirmed what I already I knew knew was true. My dream story ideas were too big for me to tackle as a part-time reporter.
But I so badly wanted Doug to tell me to go for it anyway.
I wanted to be further in my career as a reporter. I’m never satisfied with where I’m at — which is good in the sense that I want to better myself. But it’s bad because I never appreciate where I’ve been and what I’ve been through.
I wanted to be tackling the big stories now. I didn’t want to wait.
But after his devastating words, Doug told me about the simple stories and briefs he had written, particularly early on in his career. He told me about times when an exciting story came out of something that initially seemed so simple.
He told me I have a unique opportunity to capitalize on the simple stories I’m assigned. Even with only my simple stories, I now felt challenged.
I’m thankful for Doug’s brutal honesty. It helped me remember it takes years of experience to become like Doug; it doesn’t happen overnight.
Doug’s words might have felt suffocating in the moment, but he spoke truth when I was hoping for a self-gratifying answer.
Appreciating the Journey
So I’m not a Pulitzer prize winning writer like Doug. I’m not even a full-time reporter. But that’s OK.
It’s OK to be young and new and unsure. It’s OK to start something exciting and then fall on your face. It’s OK to want more of yourself. That’s not the point.
The point is that when you’re growing and learning and searching to figure out new things, you can appreciate that phase. We can take a moment to recognize where we’re at, so that when we do grow and thrive, we’ll look back and appreciate where we’ve been.
Before college, I wrote everything in a research paper-style — yeah, boring. But after working with writers and editors in college, I learned to make shorter sentences. I learned to use language people actually understand. I learned to observe and write down details.
Maybe you’re frustrated in your job. Maybe you feel like you’re stagnant and not progressing. Maybe you look around and see friends on social media broadcasting their success and unique opportunities that you would only dream of having.
But maybe you’re focusing on the things you lack, rather than where you’ve been. Maybe you’re like me, focusing on not having the resources to write a Pulitzer prize-winning story, instead of recognizing that I get the opportunity to write every single day.
The learning curve is exciting because the future is uncertain. We can go so many places with our goals, talents and desires. But I’m also learning not to lose sight of where I’m at now. And I’m learning to appreciate where the Lord has taken me.