There comes a certain time for almost every university student when you question if you’re in the right program. After all, it is natural to ask: Is this something that you’re really going to want to do with the rest of your life? Will you get bored? Are you any good at it?
These are questions I posed to myself a couple years ago and I didn’t necessarily like all the conclusions I came to. But what those conclusions were, and what I’ve done since in response to them are subjects that probably don’t belong in an editorial piece, at least not this one.
However, in the broad realm of journalism, the importance of which seems to have increased tenfold every year over the last three years, there is another question that I’ve started asking myself. “Do I deserve it?”
Now, of course, I would never want to seem like I’m taking advantage of the upcoming holiday season as a means to adopt an overly sentimental tone in these words but the fact is, when the time comes to spend time with family and friends, certain things in life become a lot clearer. What has become clear to me is that I don’t have the unrelenting desire to educate the world about the most important of global issues as I thought I would have seven or eight years ago.
There have been nights where I’ve gone home after a long day of work on this very publication, sat down in front of the television and turned on what has become one my guiltiest pleasures in life, CNN. There were a couple of times where I caught one of those five-minute “A day in the life of an American soldier in Fallujah” pieces and it truly terrified me.
I wasn’t really scared for the soldiers. I, like most of you, have friends who are involved in the military, and while I would have deep concern for them and the paramount role they play in society, I can’t help but feel detached. No, I was scared for the middle-aged looking woman who, for whatever reason, was imbedded in what is arguably the most dangerous city in the world, putting together a report.
Why? This was the only thing that I could think. What would possess this woman to put her life on the line just to get a close-up at the business end of a missile launcher, moments before it blasts a hole in the building across the street, likely killing at least a couple of people that had been firing on them moments earlier. That’s when I had my moment of panic. Had the last three years of my life been a monumental waste? Had I spent all this time preparing for something that I couldn’t follow through on?
My sense of doubt wasn’t spawned out of the sudden belief that to be a real journalist I had to put my life in danger, although sometimes seeking out an ultimate truth about something can prove hazardous. Rather I was and still am worried that the direction the world is going in is one that will leave little room for those who aren’t chomping at the bit to explore every angle of every negotiation and conflict. It seems that the day is not so far away when putting one’s life in danger and undergoing military training will be regarded as prerequisites for entering the field.
I realize the stark contrast between what I want to do with my future career and what is becoming more and more important in the world. When those two things don’t match it can leave quite an empty feeling inside.
For instance, when Christmas rolls around that same woman might still be imbedded somewhere, completely justified in her belief that if she does a good job then it will all be worth it and that it will have made some difference, even if it’s just a small one and she’ll get satisfaction from that. I, on the other hand, will be looking forward to sitting on a couch with a bunch of my friends watching the Miami Heat and Los Angles Lakers basketball game.
Even more troubling is that if you ask me what I’d rather be doing ten years from now, I have to admit that I’d probably still take the game. I feel an even greater sense of uneasiness admitting that with the passing of Jailed Journalist Support Day, which was on Nov. 24.
So do I deserve it? Years from now I’ll hopefully be doing exactly what I want to do and if someone asks me then, I would tell them that every person deserves the right to do what they want to do. But something about that answer will always seem just a little too easy.