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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why I Didn't Choose Journalism

This is a blog entry that I consider to be one of my most personal ones, because it addresses a question that many people have asked me. For the longest time, I couldn't really come up with an answer that made a lot of sense. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that I had the answer all along, but couldn't quite figure out how to word it until now. And, I guess in some way, my answer was found after reports of a celebrity death began to surface from the West Coast of Canada.

July 18, 2013

As many people well know, I love to write. I try to do a little bit of writing every day so I can learn a little bit more about myself. After all, the more blogging I do, the more I learn about who I really am. It's been a great method of self-help for me because it's helped me come to terms with the painful memories of my past and it's helped me discover exactly what I need to say in order to replace that negativity with positivity. It hasn't always worked out that way, but in the instances in which it has, I'm a better person for having worked through those demons and slaying them once and for all.

And if I don't feel too dorky, I do a little Final Fantasy style victory fanfare!

Okay, enough of that.

Now, because I'm beginning to feel more comfortable with myself and my own skin, it allows me to be a little bit more open with people. And, this allows me to share more of myself than I ever thought possible...

...well, in the VERBAL sense, that is.

So, I'm going to answer a question that people keep asking me.

You see, at my workplace, a lot of people read this very blog, and they tell me that they are kind of surprised that I haven't pursued a career in the field of journalism. Some have even encouraged me to try and follow that career path because they feel as though I could excel in it.

And you know what? If I put all my cards on the table and really put forth the time and the effort to get that degree, I probably could have gone on to be the next Tom Brokaw, or Dan Rather, or a masculine version of Connie Chung, if you like.

It's not as though I haven't pondered with the idea to become a journalist before. It was the program that I initially wanted to get a post secondary degree in. I even volunteered to write and edit one of the two student-run newspapers on campus. It was something that I really felt passionate about, and although the experience didn't have the happy ending that I had envisioned, it was still a mostly positive experience, and I am glad that I did it.

So, why have I decided to not pursue the career of a journalist?

Well, I'll be honest with you. There are several reasons. And, to begin with reason number one...well, it happens to be linked to a recent event that took place this past Saturday.

Now, I'll be doing a special tribute to the character this man played on the hit television show “Glee” tomorrow, but I wanted to talk a little bit about Cory Monteith. Unless one has been living in a cave in the middle of nowhere, by now everyone has heard that the 31-year-old Canadian actor was found dead in a hotel room on the afternoon of July 13, 2013. The cause of death was a reported lethal combination of alcohol and heroin. It was revealed that Cory Monteith had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Monteith himself admitted in an interview that he started doing drugs at the age of twelve.

I suppose the worst thing about this whole thing was that Cory Monteith died at a time in which his professional career was really beginning to take off. He was starring in a couple of movies, and “Glee” had been renewed for a fifth season. His relationship with his “Glee” co-star, Lea Michele was beginning to blossom very well, and I think that he was well on his way to having a bright future in the entertainment industry. I think that's why many people were so shocked by the news of his death. Certainly he had drug problems in the past, but it seemed as though he had it all under control. While there was a stint in rehab earlier in 2013, everyone had believed that Cory had finally kicked the habit.

While we may never know how Cory ended up dying of a drug overdose...we do know that it was a very unfortunate end to a promising career.

Of course, Cory Monteith died five days ago, yet hearing all of the media coverage that is still being reported on, you would have thought that it was still a breaking news story. The media coverage has been absolutely relentless. They want to know EVERYTHING from what Cory was doing before his death, to how Lea Michele is coping, to harassing other “Glee” stars as they arrive at airports...and you know what, enough is enough.

Cory Monteith is dead. Leave him be. Leave his family, friends, and fans to grieve his loss in their own way.

That's just one of the many reasons why I opted not to pursue a career in journalism. I understand that it is important to cover a breaking news story, and certainly the sudden death of one of the biggest stars of the television series “Glee” is one of those news stories. At the same time, I believe in letting those closest to him mourn his death in private. I would never climb over bushes to get closer to the hotel room where he died. I would be very uncomfortable getting up close and personal to his co-stars asking him if they were okay, and whether they believed that Cory had relapsed.

Truth be told, I have been a little bit disgusted with paparazzi and overly eager journalists who would do anything to get their story. Even if it means breaking laws and shattering the privacy of actors, actresses, singers, and politicians. True, many of them are in the public spotlight because they want the attention. But I think there are ways to get that attention without being a complete jerk about it. And, I'm sorry to say it but I wouldn't survive in the world of investigative journalism because I tend to get too emotionally involved in stories...which is a bit no-no given that the journalism industry tends to reward monotony and robotic movements – neither being things that I have.

I have to say that I admire those journalists who go out into the world to cover the news. At the same time, I don't see myself going out into the middle of a hurricane to cover the damage it is doing to a community. I would be scared out of my mind. Nor could I cover the aftermath of a brutal storm that has wiped entire villages off the map. I would probably find myself crying alongside those people who have lost everything. And, I would be a nervous wreck if I had to go over to a war-torn country and witness people getting shot in the middle of the streets. I guarantee you that I would be suffering the after-effects of that visual for years afterwards.

I applaud those people who have the courage to face danger in order to bring the truth to viewers...I just know that I couldn't be one of them.

I would also have a really hard time keeping my composure when it came down to interviewing someone who I could not stand. Let's just say that hypothetically speaking, I was a journalist and one of my assignments was to go to a state prison and interview somebody who has admitted to abducting and killing a dozen children. I would find it incredibly hard to keep calm, knowing what this person has done. I would not necessarily be able to hold my tongue while interviewing this person. I would more than likely tell this disgusting piece of filth what I thought of them. And, that would not be very professional from a journalistic perspective.

I honestly don't know how some journalists do it, you know? Interviewing some of the people in the world who have admitted to corruption, greed, violence, theft, and murder. I would have a really hard time even being in the same room as people like that, let alone asking them questions over why they did what they did while keeping my best poker face on. I would find it damn near impossible!

Of course, those reasons are miniscule compared to the real reason why I didn't become a journalist.

If you want to know the real reason...well, it's simple.

When I was growing up, I didn't know it at the time, but I had suffered from social anxiety. In some ways, I still have feelings of social anxiety buried deep within myself. Granted, working a current job in retail has helped me get over the social anxiety on a professional level. But socially? I still struggle.

I mean, occasionally I'll watch an episode of Entertainment Tonight Canada (and yes, Canada does have its own version, and yes, it is far superior than the American version in my own humble opinion), and I see the hosts interviewing celebrities and media figures without any problems whatsoever, and I think to myself...I would love to be able to do that myself but for whatever reason, I find myself being a complete amateur. Some people find it easy to go up to a person and just start talking to them, but I have always struggled to even say the word “hello” to them. Dealing with social anxiety is something that I would not wish on anybody. Social anxiety is one of the worst things to cope with. It certainly is a rather lonely way to live, and I have done everything in me to try and rectify that.

I think social anxiety is something that not a whole lot of people understand. I didn't quite understand it myself. I always saw it as being this freaky disorder that nobody really talked about. It's like that embarrassing uncle who gets drunk every Christmas and you find him passed out with the turkey on top of his head. You acknowledge the fact that he exists, and that his DNA is forever connected with yours, but you don't really want to admit publicly that he is a part of your family out of fear that people will judge you based on his actions, and not yours.

Well, social anxiety for me is like that drunken uncle that nobody talks about. I know that I was afraid to talk about it for the longest time because I thought that it was something to be ashamed of. I was ashamed of the fact that I had symptoms of what is known as social anxiety disorder. Why would I go and blab it out to the world? I was too afraid to approach a stranger on the street!

The thing is...I want people to know about it. I want people to understand the struggles that I endured. I want people to know that while I am getting better at coping and dealing with it, it still remains the little skeleton in my closet. One that I hope I can disassemble and donate to a high school chemistry class before it becomes too late.

If I can find a way to get rid of, or at the very least control my social anxiety...then maybe I can find the courage to try new things.

But not journalism. Maybe a talk show, but not journalism.

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