There are two buried leads in this story.
My past editors are probably not surprised, because they always yelled at me for burying the lead. But I always thought: Why give away the best part first? Because if you do, the reader has no reason to go on. It’s like eating all the marshmallows in the Lucky Charms box — after that, everything else is disappointing.
It’s about hope, though. When you know something better might be coming, it makes the journey more exciting. So when I buried leads, I thought I was motivating my readers to get further into a piece by creating hope for something better.
Anyway, here’s my first buried lead: I’m going to grad school.
Again, it’s about hope.
About a year ago, I graduated from NYU and, by my childhood standards, I had a dream job: working for ESPN. But as I got deeper into the sports journalism world — which wasn’t been very deep at all — I realized I didn’t want to be stuck here. Not yet.
I felt like a rabbit going into a tunnel. I could’ve kept on going and been fine. But at some point, turning back would’ve been harder. With each step, the number of places I could go would shrink exponentially. And the opportunity for surprises — buried leads — would diminish.
I’m being overanxious, I know.
While I was in school, I always felt like I had an unlimited number of options: At first, I thought I could be a basketball player. Then I thought I could be an artist or a surgeon or a lawyer or a jazz pianist. There were so many things I could do — so many directions I could take my life. But somewhere along the way, I lost that freedom. And, for now, that is where hope is: in that mystery box.
Perhaps this is naive — actually, I know it is. Because I can’t poignantly tell you why I’m doing this; there’s more wisdom to be had. I just know that, for now, my hope is still that vague idea us young people have of how something better is coming. And maybe that’s enough of a sign that I need to go back to school for more skills. That way, I can dig myself sideways, from tunnel to tunnel, looking for more buried leads.
I don’t regret the last year. I’ve met some great people and written some fun pieces. (Perhaps, if circumstances allow, I can keep writing for ESPN.) But, most importantly, the last year directed me to where I am today: I wouldn’t be going to grad school if I hadn’t gone through these struggles and triumphs.
A year ago, I was one of those kids who swore he’d never go back to school. I thought grad school was dumb; I figured I didn’t need more schooling to be a good writer. But the last 11 months helped me clarify my goals. And if something else happens in the next year to changes my mind again, that’ll be OK. It’ll just be another buried lead — another interesting twist.
Speaking of buried leads: Next fall, I’m going to NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. ITP is a master’s program that describes itself as the “center for the recently possible.”
I want to keep telling stories, but with different mediums. My goals of storytelling are the same: I want to make people laugh, cry and think. And the ultimate goal is the same: helping others.
I don’t exactly know what I just wrote about hope, rabbit holes and buried leads — this is all too new for me to digest clearly. But I do know this: I’ve never been so excited for a next stage in my life. And I think that’s enough of a reason to do this.