For so long, I wanted nothing more than to go to grad school for journalism in New York City.
I worked my butt off to perfect my applications so I would get accepted to Columbia, CUNY or NYU. I took my personal essays and rewrote them tons of times, each time filled with even more dread and anxiety.
And then I waited for several months, heart in my throat, for the response. I vacillated between certainty that I would get in and the absolute knowledge that I would be rejected from every single one of my dream schools.
Until the emails started coming in: CUNY, yes; NYU, yes; Columbia, yes.
I cried. My dreams were coming true. Within a few months, I accepted NYU’s offer of admission, packed my belongings into a bunch of boxes and drove from South Carolina to New York City.
My dream was coming true.
And now I don’t know how to go forward.
Because I don’t know if I can do this, after all. I don’t know how to be unafraid, how to go after a story like a hound dog and not care who gets in the way.
I’m terrified, every night, of failing. I’m filled with anxiety, wondering if this is really what I’m supposed to do with my life. Perhaps I’m better suited to a simpler life, a life with fewer hardships and less angst.
I got into journalism because I wanted to tell stories. OK, that’s not exactly true. I got into journalism because I liked writing and wanted another avenue; and the more I learned about it, the more I got into it, the more I discovered the possibilities. Journalism offers a chance to tell people’s stories when they can’t do it themselves, to give hope sometimes and yes, to uncover injustice and lies and generally bad things.
The longer I spent studying journalism, the more passionate I became. My first “real-world” work experience was at the Sochi Winter Olympics, when I spent nine days putting together video packages with other students. As hard as that experience was, as many blisters as I got and as many late nights as I lived through, I would have stayed for weeks and weeks longer.
Then I did a summer internship, and that just set my passion into stone. I got to cover events and tell stories of incredible people and that’s when I knew, that’s when I knew for sure, that I was going to pursue this for the rest of my life.
And now I don’t know. Now I’m living my dream and facing the prospect of that all coming to naught. Because what if my fear is going to keep me from doing this job? What if my instinct to believe people when they say what they’re doing is good will actually keep me from being great at the job I’ve dreamed of for so many years?
What if I’m standing in my own way?
Maybe I should have just kept to creative writing. I shouldn’t have gotten into such a demanding, high-pressure field.
Maybe this is why The New York Times keeps rejecting my internship applications: they sense, in the way that I can’t, that I’m not suited for this career. They’ve seen through the facade and understand that I’m not going to add anything to their newsroom, because I have nothing to add.
I’m in the midst of an identity crisis. For the past four years, I’ve been a journalist. Sometimes a student journalist, sometimes an intern and sometimes a freelance journalist, but always a journalist. I don’t know who I am if I’m not that anymore.
More importantly, I don’t want to give it up. This is what I’m passionate about. I mean, I’ve dreamed of this for such a long time! I want nothing more than to be a successful journalist living in New York City.
I know the field is hard, and the city is hard, and the person I am today is too weak and untested to survive either.
But I’m not willing to give up my dream just yet. I’m not willing to let a few blows knock me out completely.
I will keep pursuing this career as long as I can, until I’m bloody on the ground and unable to get back up. I will fight to be Karis Rogerson, journalist extraordinaire. Nothing can keep me down.
This is my dream. I’m scared of continuing to pursue it, but for once in my life, I’m not going to let my fears keep me down.