Today was my last day at work. And as I prepared for this day, I have checked in with myself repeatedly. I kept looking for fear, but the only thing I kept finding was joy, exhilaration and this otherworldy sense of calm.
In fact, I’m more nervous about writing this post and sharing this decision with the world than I was when I made it.
After 11 years of newsrooms and deadlines, I am no longer a journalist. At least not in the traditional sense. I plan to sustain myself with freelance writing and editing projects, but chasing politicians, and lately generals, for quotes is no longer on my agenda.
I’ll miss many things about the day-to-day grind of the news business, but I’m more excited than I’ve been in a long time about anything.
If I am honest — and honesty is something we place high value on here — this decision was a long time in the making. Over the last half of my career there has been this gnawing sensation that I had I strayed away from why I became a journalist. There was also that feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else.
As you can imagine, Reese and I talk extensively about what we want out of life, what we value and what we don’t. Increasingly, I was frustrated with the amount of personal and professional energy it took to do my job and with how the news business, in general, is changing. But more importantly, what I believed about who I am and what I truly valued was changing. So much of my identity and who I believed I was had everything to do with being able to say, “I am journalist.”
Over the course of the last year and a half — a time frame in which my best friend died at 32 and my 56-year-old mother was diagnosed with earlier onset Alzheimer’s — I realized being a journalist wasn’t who I am, it was what I had been trained to do. My identity was no longer tied to what I did for a living. The passion I had for the work had slipped and that was starting to show on the job no matter how I tried to cover it up.
After a couple of very uncomfortable conversations, I carried the burden of the choices I had before me to Shenandoah National Park hoping that the quiet of nature would allow me to hear the answer I needed from the universe. On our first night there, thinking about all I needed to do to redeem myself at work left me so frustrated that I struggled to see the quirkiness of Front Royal, Va.
But on the next day, as we prepared to hike and reached a fork in the trail that offered us the option of going left or right, an alternative to redemption at work built in my spirit. “I could quit,” I thought. I quickly tried to dismiss that thought. But it would not let go. I couldn’t even think of doing anything else. When I finally decided to surrender to the decision to resign, the sense of relief and peace was instant. When I told Reese about it and she said she knew it was coming, my peace was confirmed.
Deep down I knew that this was an opportunity that I was only going to get once. This was going to be my one and only get out of jail card. If I chose to keep going down the path that I was already on, I would regret it. All of this is hard for me to say. I’ve invested a lot of blood, sweat, tears and years in being a journalist, and to go off into the world without any guarantees is so unlike the me I used to be. But the new me has faith that no matter how this plays itself out, whether it ultimately looks like a success to me or anyone else, is not what’s important. What is important is that I realized that life is far too short to not pursue more of what I love and less of what I’m good at. Life is too short not to take a chance, to step out on faith.
Conditions for taking a leap of faith are not perfect. But they never are when you do something like this. That’s why it’s called a leap of faith. I’m going to have to make real money to pay real bills — an adventue to be sure. But a favorite rhetorical question of mine is “What would you do if you could not fail?” My work on answering that question starts now. I’ve got a plan, but I’m sure what God has in store is better than anything I can imagine.
Because something in my spirit is asking, “What if you take this leap of faith and you are successful beyond your wildest dreams?” There is only one way to find out.
Wish me luck.