Fridays can be the worst day of the week.
On these days I am assaulted by a heavy and emotional laundry bag, stuffed to the brim with soggy feelings such as lousiness, apprehension, and insecurity. While everyone celebrates the coming of the weekend, I contemplate the dialectic of pursuing journalism.
It has become so hard to write. There is pressure here to be the deadliest writer, to be an assassin who can kill silently and swiftly. Journalism is a lot about speed. Every week I pump out dry, monotonous articles able to put any reader to sleep. Sometimes I try to stir up my old, almost-forgotten literary style but words get stuck in my throat. A few of my peers apply description and rhythm to their news stories so well it makes one want to curl up with the article on a bed. Duplicating that process is like forging diamond out of carbon – beyond the power of self.
In a profession that requires inquisition and a restless tongue to ask questions, snipers loom over our heads in discussions. Shoot those who stay reticent! One thing I know myself best is that I’m no talker. A passing observer would call me a conflicted hermit, duped into a profession with many facets, of which only one seems compatible with my personality.
Students in the school receive a newsletter called ‘Lede.’ Right at the bottom are links to published articles (in the real world) written by Columbia’s students. The makers of the newsletter advertise it as awareness and exposure of what fellow journalism students are accomplishing, but under its skin is a confidence-deflating tumor, grown out of deceitful pride that is famous in the journalism industry. We all want to see our names on the bylines, no matter how some will defend their altruistic intentions. Seeing familiar names getting mentioned in all sorts of publications such as the popular Huffington Post provides both selfless joy and betrayed pain. My article couldn’t even make it online onto ColumbiaJournalist.org during the school-wide election coverage.
Seems like almost everyone is getting published, except me. And when job applications land, the desert is sparse on clips. Come May, I may very well be among the increasing number of unemployed in America. After spending all this money on a graduate program, why hasn’t the outlook changed? I came to this school to improve my chances of being a journalist, and now doubts gnaw on my confidence to even be one.