It took me six years to find my real passion.
I thought I had everything figured out in high school (what high schooler doesn’t think that?) when I found the school newspaper and broadcast news. I did everything I could to gain experience and eventual admittance to the University of Missouri’s prestigious School of Journalism.
Once there, the determination didn’t wane, until my senior year, when I got a bit burned out. I took some advertising classes to fulfill my electives and loved them. The professor was encouraging and the class interesting. However, after graduation, it seemed all I was “qualified” to do was work in the news industry.
My first job was as an education reporter for a newspaper in Southeast Missouri. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. My fiancÃ© at the time (now husband) got a job in San Antonio and we moved. There I was an education reporter for an even smaller paper. It was at that paper that I got fired for sticking to my journalistic ethics. I then worked for the FOX station in San Antonio. The hours were awful, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
After nearly two years of those hours, my husband and I knew it was time for a change. He wanted to go to graduate school and I was ready to be closer to our families. We packed up and moved back to Missouri. Where I was unemployed for about three months. During those three months, I did a lot of soul searching. I made lists about what I liked and didn’t in each previous job and looked for trends.
The statewide radio network in Missouri offered me a position as an anchor and reporter and I accepted. Despite looking at my list and knowing it wasn’t a good fit. I wasn’t ready to give up on journalism yet.
About five months after accepting the position, the company implemented tiered pay cuts and a few other cost saving measures. That was the end of my journalism tenure. I then worked for a physician recruiting firm writing cover letters, resumes and working on their website, social media and public relations efforts. At the end of the day, it was the last three that I loved the most. I started looking for a way to combine those three things (which were ironically on the now three year old list) with my desire to work for something bigger than myself.
When the Online Community Coordinator position at the Missouri State Teachers Association came open, I almost thought I was dreaming. I had taken a class to begin the teaching certification process only to realize that I couldn’t work full time and get my certification. The job was the perfect way to combine my support of education with my love of communicating. I could also keep all the things I loved about journalism, without the parts I disliked.
I never felt as lucky as I did when MSTA offered me the position.
Since then, it’s just kept getting better. That’s not to say I don’t have occasional days where I feel defeated, but unlike in other jobs, the feeling comes from me not meeting my expectations, not me not living up to someone else’s expectation. The truth is that feeling is rare. There are far more days when I feel like I did my absolute best and made a difference. This is the first position I feel completely supported and part of a team. Where my colleagues want me to succeed.
If you are lucky enough to find your passion or to narrow down what you love, don’t discard that. It might take time to find a way to incorporate your passion into your job or a position that works for you, but you will find it. Even if it takes six years.