A flippant decision
I decided to become a journalist as a 16-year-old, and 10 years later I’m still doing it. I wasn’t mature enough to make that decision, but it’s the decision that has framed my adult life. After that moment, I never had to figure out what I *really* wanted to do, because I’d already filled out that line on the form. It was a flippant decision based on how much I loved seeing my own byline. I’ve been lucky to have enjoyed it as much as I have.
So a year ago when I got a job at the Boston Globe, I was ecstatic. But the decision to take that job had already been made a decade earlier. It was as if I was a few steps away from the peak of a mountaintop, and I didn’t have to think about taking the next few steps; I didn’t have to think about whether it’s what I really wanted, because it was so close that I might as well.
I think about friends who are trying to climb the career ladder, trying to reach the top. It may not be enjoyable, but the next rung is so close — and the one after that, too. It’s as if that ladder exists for the same purpose mile markers exist in the marathon; it’s a fabricated feedback that keeps us just happy enough.
In a month, I am moving to New Haven with no job in sight, and for the first time I’ve had to ask myself what I really want to do — what I want to contribute to the world. It’s scary and it makes me anxious. But it’s an opportunity to make a conscious decision about where I will take the next few steps, without the overwhelming temptation of progress or the misleading pressure of survival.