Dream Jobs Are Still Jobs

Dream Jobs Are Still Jobs

I thumbed my press pass as I sat in my car outside the newsroom. It felt like my cells were humming; someone was paying me to write full time, I had a beat I loved and best of all, I could finally call myself a reporter.

The sun shined through the treescape, blanketing the pavement in sweeping intricate designs. I sipped my coffee and tried to absorb every detail. Insects chirping. Traffic zooming. Beads of condensation slipping down my cup.

It was absolute peace.

Almost like the calm before the storm.

I glanced toward the door. A dull, solid color that seemed to suck the green out of the surrounding shrubbery. My cells slowed, my excitement tinged with exhaustion.

Being a reporter meant being “on” all the time. You had to know who was doing what and why as soon as it happened, whether on the other side of the planet or down the road.

I thought my dream job would mean covering crimes happening next door, not my desk-neighbor’s missing hot sauce and the ensuing bitter retorts tossed about the room. I thought it would mean focusing on the world around me, not Spyin’ Bryan two desks down that liked to write down and track every move I made. (He would then send that info to my boss, as if my bathroom break was going to ruin the whole operation.)

I thought it would mean being a part of a team that worked together to let the community know what was going on at boring meetings, why the highway was completely shut down, what happened to that dude who killed his neighbor’s cat and more.

I didn’t think I signed up to deal with passive-aggressive “no, I definitely texted you to be there, it’s not my fault your phone didn’t work,” a never-ending stream of emails demanding responses despite my late shift or for the pressure that comes with never missing a shift, meeting or moment.

But I did.

Being a reporter comes with a few stressful givens: constant meetings, writing on deadline, rude sources, cruel social media comments and a dozen other things.

I didn’t realize it also came with office politics, a never-ending stream of requests to do more with less and a constant, gripping pressure similar to that of anaconda whispering sweet negative nothings in your ear 24/7.  

I didn’t realize it would exhaust me, causing me to drag my butt out of bed really only excited for coffee and breakfast. I didn’t realize it would make me feel tired and irritable from time to time. I didn’t realize it would stress me out so badly that some nights I come home and burst into tears when asked to recount my day.

I didn’t realize my dream job wouldn’t be all rainbows and sunshine after the storm that was my life leading up to it.

I didn’t realize my dream job would still be a job.

I had this vision in my mind where I could be this Earth’s Lois Lane, earning enough money to buy nice clothing while only writing hard-hitting pieces that changed lives. Bonus points if I managed to leave the office in time for happy hour.

I didn’t realize that no matter what you’re doing or where you’re doing it (unless you work alone for yourself on a tropical island), you’re going to have that one co-worker that asks you so many questions you’re tempted to send over a “How to use Google” guide.

You’re going to have to figure out how to balance life and work.

You’re going to have to learn when to say yes to more responsibility and when to say no.

You’re going to have to learn how to be early to every meeting.

You’re going to have to learn to avoid burnout.

You’re going to have to learn to not eat at your desk.

You’re going to have to learn to turn your phone off and take advantage of the Do Not Disturb setting.

You’re going to have to deal with imposter syndrome.

You’re going to question whether this is right for you.

My gaze drifted back to the pavement and the ever-changing patterns of light. I felt the icy cup in my hand and the heat of the sun on my face.

I looked at the shrubbery. It was still vividly green.

I felt the press pass in my hand.

A dream job is still a job, but it will make your cells sing with possibility now and then.

And that’s worth it.

I got out of my car and headed toward the door.


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