Last night, I was reminded of who I am: a journalist.
I’ve been out of the newsroom for years, but that didn’t matter when I attended the j-school reunion of my alma mater, Eastern Illinois University. I thought I’d feel self-conscious, as many of my classmates are still working at dailies and have advanced in their careers. They’ve worked at several papers, on several different beats. They’ve won awards for their reporting.
Six months ago, I became a columnist for my hometown newspaper. I’ve been a blogger for just shy of a year.
And everyone I met was equally supportive and excited about what I’m doing– there was no egos or judgement about my long “sabbatical.”
My former classmates were happy to see me– it wasn’t about my resume. We reminisced about our classes, working together in the student newspaper as staff writers and editors. About going to parties. My former professors and the new faculty were encouraging. They didn’t ask me where I had been in the gap years– but where I wanted to go.
Journalists are dynamic, articulate, inspiring people. They challenge you, and ask the tough questions. They aren’t deterred by obstacles.
I was shocked by how easily I fit in.
All I could think was, “Why did I wait so long to come HOME?”
I thought journalism was dead, and I had missed my chance.
But I met recent grads who are still as hungry I was once was. Yes, the game has changed.
But I can still play.
I’m reminded of a quote from my favorite Stephen King book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” :
“If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?”
I’ve run out of excuses.