Monday, November 16, 2009


An interesting article in Psychology Today brought back memories of graduation, specifically the morning after a rousing party with some of my peers in J-school.

The hangover had firmly set in, and a friend popped by to pick up ... okay, here's where the hangover-cloud comes in ... a cake? Yes, I believe it was the tray on which a celebratory cake of some sort had been consumed from the night before.

This friend, who shall remain nameless, always held a very esteemed place in my mind. The go-getter, the organizer, the one with lofty goals. AND she was NICE. (One time I even revealed my envy -- I mean, esteem -- for her to one of my teachers, who kindly said that this student had a lot of support from family in the city and we're not all that lucky. I've tried to hold on to that consolation in the years that followed, but as I watch her Skype location dart from one exotic locale to the next, it sometimes feels like just that: a consolation.)

So, in my alcohol-induced half-day depression, and with a bright-faced go-getter at my door, I collapsed. I let this girl hear my sad story about how I don't think I'll actually make it out there in journalism 'cause I"m just not... her. Not willing to file innumerable forms and put in countless years for a permanent position with a national media company. Not willing to volunteer my summers away in the hopes that I outshine the other unpaid interns. Not willing to trust that the future will all be fine if I just buy a pantsuit and keep my nose to the grindstone.

I can't remember what she said but it really didn't matter. She was nice, the hangover wore off, and I continued on with my own, unique career path. It hasn't been completely boring, but it's not a bio that would rock anyone's world, either.

But Psychology Today came at me today with some good news: the bad economy doesn't foster skyrocketing success, so we should just lay back and enjoy ourselves!

In A Vacation From Your Dreams, Judith Sills, PhD. argues: There's a hidden bonus in our mass loss of net worth ... It's a respite from ambition.

For Sills, the news her own competitor (well, a slacker she knew in high school) had lost his job meant a relief from the rat race:

"My own practice has felt the sting of this economic downturn and, if Marty has it worse, maybe I don't have to scramble so hard. Maybe I can just be grateful to be where I am."

She also points to an increase in the barter system and a genera 'giving up' when it comes to meeting annual sales. All of which sidelines the sideways glances. Sure, it's being replaced by communal fear -- but at least we're in this together.

Of course, it can't all be R&R, especially if you're the type to read Psychology Today. Use the extra mental space to do some big-picture planning. Go back to school. Or just step up to plan the Christmas party.

I do love the way she finishes this advice:

"Being forced to stand still can help you figure out if your ambitions truly coincide with your strengths and passions, or if they represent a younger, different you -- a restless you who will always want more.

Now, I've already changed career tracks once in this decade, so I'll stick with journalism (for now ;). But within these slow(er) afternoons, there's definitely room for cogitation.

1 comment:

Colleen said...

Great post D! It brought back angsty memories of j-school and made me glad I'm not there anymore. I used to feel obligated to make a real difference as a journalist. Not so much anymore. Now I just want to do work that is mostly satisfying, pays the bills and leaves me ample vacation time. Is that so bad?

I so wish you were closer! Think of the all the coffee and conversation we could enjoy!