It was 10 years ago this month that I left my steady job at The Globe and Mail to try something new. As the newspaper’s marketing reporter, I had been writing a lot about the infancy of social media and how brands were using tools like YouTube, blogs and MySpace.
I had the chance to join a mid-sized public relations company to launch a social media practice and I jumped on it.
My exit couldn’t have been better timed. In 2007, nobody could have predicted the implosion that was about to rock the worldwide newspaper industry.
But I was also happy to be leaving a career that had changed me more I anticipated when I’d started reporting a decade earlier.
My personality had always been rational, and I never accepted anything without proof. But I had allowed journalism to harden me. It had become more difficult for me to see the good in the world.
This is nothing against journalists or journalism, a profession I continue to respect immensely.
But it is extremely difficult not to be hardened in a profession where, to be successful, you have to:
- Assume everybody you are interviewing has something to hide
- Cover murders, floods, plane crashes and other tragedies without letting your emotions get in the way, and
- Avoid being a fan of whatever you are covering no matter how noble or fun.
Journalists prided themselves on being detached, sober and skeptical. To be a “hard-nosed journalist” is a badge of honor. But there’s a fine-line between being hard-nosed and being unhappy.
“Of course, it’s cooler not to be too happy. There’s a goofiness to happiness, an innocence, a readiness to be pleased. Zest and enthusiasm take energy, humility, and engagement; taking refuge in irony, exercising destructive criticism, or assuming an air of philosophical ennui is less taxing.”
There is magic in the world. But it’s hard to see it when you’re living in a world of skepticism.
Every job I’ve had has changed my personality in ways good and bad.
At the PR agency, there were times when I felt so happy and energized from a job that felt so fun. But there were also deep, depressing lows.
Working as the social media lead for a large corporation, I needed to go out of my way to be outgoing and positive for the team I was leading, and that made me feel more outgoing and positive.
And although running my own business – a small publishing company with no co-workers – can be lonely, it is also extremely satisfying and energizing to create something amazing all on my own.
What’s your experience? Has your profession changed who you are?