It’s what I had worked for my entire high school and college career.
I always knew I wanted to be a reporter – tell stories, deliver news, get to know people and peak into lives of people I’d otherwise know nothing about.
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk. (Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows)
Sonder isn’t even a real word, but it’s a word that drives much of what I do and what I love. I’m fascinated, truly fascinated, with people and their stories.
But going out of college into real life was seriously a rude awakening. I had no idea where I would work – I guess I expected to just hop right into a reporting job and it would be fabulous and fun. Wrong.
I got lucky enough to land a job at the station I interned with, WAFF 48 in Huntsville, through some UNA connections, and I was excited, thankful, but I soon learned it was nothing like what I imagined.
The news business is tough – you can’t be sensitive and you have to fight to stay afloat and move up. I can’t tell you how many days I didn’t think I could make it. I wasn’t reporting, I wasn’t doing what I’d always wanted to do, but I was working in news and that was a start. I had to remind myself of that last part daily.
I finally decided I probably would never report and never get where I wanted – and that was fine. I made some other plans, alternate routes, and tried to keep myself motivated and content all at the same time.
Fast forward about a year – I had prayed about my job more than I had probably prayed about anything, which is kinda sad.
My life had been changing and my relationship with God really started to grow and change and move. My attitude, therefore, changed too.
I was more confident at work and with myself and started really walking in the favor of God. June/July of 2015 came around, and I had been working at WAFF for one year. My bosses knew I wanted to report and I had been shadowing and working to show them I could do it- all attempts seemed to fail, but I kept trying.
Nothing besides the favor of God could have caused what happened to happen. I had zero experience, a weak demo tape, and I was at a top 100 television market. Some people start at a medium-sized market right out of college, but most don’t. By the books, I should’ve been in the middle of nowhere Wyoming.
But here I was in Huntsville, close to home, making friends and making a life, and my boss took a chance and let me try an on-air gig. The first traffic reporter at WAFF – our consultant said people wanted traffic, so we would give them traffic.
It was rocky at first, but I started getting the hang of it. And I liked it. It was fun. I felt like I was making a difference, and I loved the crew I got to work with. I had hard days, but at the end of every day, I was thankful for this opportunity.
Then, I asked my boss to let me report full-time. I thought there was probably no way, but a few weeks passed by, and I shadowed more reporters, and he ended up offering me a position and contract as a reporter.
Everything in my life was starting to fall into place, and after a REALLY hard first year out of college, I couldn’t help but just weep in thankfulness to God and to the people he had placed in my path.
I am a small dot on the map of the billions of people in the world, I’m not rich, I’m not famous, but I felt myself making a difference and I felt a difference being made in me – I was joyful, beyond joyful.
And this week, Feb. 29, was my start date as a reporter. (Leap Day – how neat!) But last Friday, my assistant news director kind of threw me in the deep end and asked me for a full news package from an event. That means video, interviews, voice overs, editing, writing… whole nine yards.
I didn’t do a horrible job, but I did not do a good job at all. I was in tears and worked for 12 hours on a Friday before I went out of town with some friends. I thought the day would never end. I couldn’t believe I ever thought I could do this.
It felt like turning a school project in just to turn it in and avoid failing and get like a C. But I turned it in and left and cleared my mind for the weekend. My AD talked with me, critiqued me, and told me he was proud of me for trying my best. He told me to get ready for Monday. I had a feeling this had all been a plan to get my feet wet, maybe my hands and face wet, too.
I started officially on Monday, and it was still tough, but so much better than Friday. Tuesday was better, and Wednesday even better. By Thursday, I was ready to do another full package, and I worked another 12-hour day, but this time I would’ve gotten at least a B, and maybe even an A.
I was confident, and proud, and still so thankful.
Throughout my first week, I just seriously learned so much about life. God showed me little things.
Things won’t always be perfect, and dreams take work, a lot of work. People won’t always be kind and encouraging, some of them will watch in hopes you’ll fail, but you have to believe in yourself and know Who is on your side.
You have to pick yourself up after every single fall, and there will be plenty. Life is not perfect. Remember that. Don’t expect it to be.
But there are days that make it worth it. In fact, there are moments in EVERY day that make it worth it.
I have only been covering small feature stories, but I have made connections and impacts at the schools I’ve been to, and man have they impacted me.
I’ve gotten to talk to people. Real people with real lives and ambitions. Most of these people were in small towns just like the one I grew up with, but that didn’t make them small people, they were big people with big thoughts and ideas and plans.
I even met people who I knew through mutual friends and saw old childhood friends – all through my job I had struggled with for more than a year.
And the week ended with my AD sending me to cover the story of a little boy who had been diagnosed with cancer twice. I was in tears the entire day talking with him, his teacher, his mother, and the people who had been helping him.
It was the perfect end to the week and the perfect big feature story for me to cover and tell. Again, I wept with thankfulness to God who had foreseen all of this.
If only I would have been still and trusted that He already had good things planned, that all things would work together for my good because I believe in Him and love Him. I would have saved myself a lot of time and trouble and worry.
In my first week of reporting, I learned a few main things:
- I matter.
- People matter.
- I can do all things through God.
- Everything always works out how it should.
- Confidence in myself and hard work will always pay off.
I also learned that life goes on, no matter what. And there are billions of lives going on at any given moment. They all matter. And what you do is affecting someone else, and they are affecting you. It’s cool really that the world turns because of every single person in it.
You might think your job doesn’t matter or that it will never matter or you’ll never get where you want to be. It’s a process, sure, but what you’re doing right this moment does matter and will matter. And even if this is where it stops, it’s important, and you have to wake up every day treating it like it is.
I’m thankful God is challenging me and helping me see new things every day. I am working hard to take a step back every day and thank Him for even the smallest things.
I hope I stay in awe of what He does and where He takes me.
My identity isn’t in my job as a reporter or who I’m friends with or where I live – it’s in Christ, and He allows all those other things to fall in place when I’m walking confidently in that.
I encourage you to do the same friends – it’s worth it, He’s worth it. You’re worth it.