Here’s the story so far: right before Christmas, I left my job at a business newspaper. It was a very good job: I got to write and report all day, got to meet new people and learn all kinds of things, for which I was paid. It was, in many ways, a dream job.

But as I said, I left.

Below are some words for my parents, family, mentors, friends and colleagues who may be concerned that I have made a Huge Mistake.

Since graduating from college almost two years ago, I have had the opportunity to have a series of excellent reporting jobs. I got internships – (some of them paid!) – then I was hired as a reporter despite my lack of formal training in the field – and then I got a Full-Time Job! I have been very, very lucky. But I’ve also been doubting myself. While my peers were hiking the Appalachian trail, touring Turkey and biking across America, I was doing my best to get behind a desk As Soon As Possible. Like many decisions in my life, this is something I soon began to regret.

I also felt like I was missing the chance to jump into the future of journalism – I love being a reporter, but there are a lot of changes happening in the field and I want to take part in them! Me me me!

And so I decided to do something about all of these “me” problems. While working over the last few months, I’ve been trying to figure out what sort of things about which I want to learn more. I read a lot of blogs: delving into the Generation-Y blog community and the Future of Journalism online community. I conducted some informational interviews with people who do things I thought I might try. I made up a list of some stories I wanted to tell and skills I wanted to learn. In the fall, I finally set a date that I would take off and start doing this “exploration” full-time.

And here we are.

This notebook is where I keep my lists.

For the past three weeks, I’ve been “on vacation” trying to both relax and plan my next steps. I have a big list of new things I want to try, and I have (finally) prioritized them (somewhat). What are the big ones?

  1. Make an album with my band.
  2. Learn how to make a web application & learn enough of a language to do a sample project. Do the same with web design. (You’ll note I’ve already started to go a little WordPress crazy on my family…)
  3. Make a documentary (with filmmaker Martin Vavra– one of my informational interview subjects)
  4. Take classes in computer programming.
  5. Train and volunteer in community radio.

With some of those things – the documentary, radio, and website skills – I’ll be working on new kinds of journalistic storytelling. I’ll also do that with freelance writing. We hope.

While we’re on the topic of lists, I also have a list of “New Year’s Resolution”-type goals that I’ll hopefully keep track of:

  1. Write and send letters
  2. Try writing fiction
  3. Learn how to cook
  4. Throw more parties/events
  5. Plan and take travels to: Grand Canyon, Alaska, Prague

There is another set of goals that I’ve created for my band for 2012, mostly involving songwriting, aforementioned album, and using “touring” as an excuse to see more of ‘merica. The band has a couple less “concrete” goals, as well.

  1. Do it because you want to. Have fun. (As long as we are following this rule, I don’t consider us to be “selling out”.)
  2. Support awesome artists/local practitioners of music, photography and graphic design when possible.
  3. Spend time with the people we meet who are awesome. Play a lot of games.

With all of that in mind, the goal is that at some unnamed future date – perhaps the date that I run out of money – for me to have a better idea of what I would like to do with the rest of my life, or at least a little bit of it – and to feel like I’ve explored and discovered and had some good (wild?) times in my 20s. Next year, will I be a web developer/musical comedian/radio journalist/documentarian/writer? Or will I still be a freelance explorer? That is the question.

Thank you all very much for your support! If you want a letter, send me an e-mail (angela.webber.w@ gmail.com) with your address. I’ll plan to keep you updated (but you’ll note that blogging is not on the top 5 priority lists – so feel free to track me down on Facebook or Twitter if you’re just dying to know what I’m up to.)

update 1/18: Added a photo of my “first day of exploration” to provide “visual interest.” Added e-mail address.
Advertisements