As I read Peter Jones’ front page story about Andi Melick and Eleanor Womack hunting for jobs and going down paths they never envisioned for …
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As I read Peter Jones’ front page story about Andi Melick and
Eleanor Womack hunting for jobs and going down paths they never
envisioned for themselves, I’m reminded of many conversations I’ve
had with old friends from college and high school throughout the
I can remember sitting at a party in particular 10 years or so
ago with friends of mine from college. It was one of those
“remember-when” parties where we rehashed stories we all remembered
differently hoping that one more beer would bring the true record
back to us.
As things go at such events, the discussion got serious for a
few minutes for no reason at all. Out of the blue, one of my
buddies started telling me how proud I should be that I was a
journalist. His point was that I had actually gone through college
with that sort of career in mind and was living out that goal while
he, well … most of the people I went to college with to be honest,
did not end up working in the field they studied.
I thought that was odd. Sure, I was an editor for a number of
newspapers. I was also single, broke and living in a
600-square-foot apartment that was furnished with many of the same
eclectic pieces (for lack of an accurate and family friendly term)
that adorned the mobile home I lived in my junior year of college.
The guy who was talking to me, on the other hand, had a wife and
kids and all the things I felt were conspicuously absent from my
life at the time. Yet there he was, telling me I should be proud of
my career with a not-so-subtle hint of jealousy about him.
Another buddy of mine from the same group of friends who may
have been at the same party (the details are fuzzy) followed pretty
much the same career path I did the first 10 to 12 years out of
college, except he is a software engineer who pays a lot more taxes
than I do.
Over the years, we’ve talked a lot about our paths compared to
the ones the other guys took. Yes, there is a certain amount of
pride we feel about setting out in a certain direction as young
college students and still seeing it through all these years later.
But there is a flip side to it that we both recognize is not as
flattering. That side is dominated by a suffocating, paralyzing
fear of failure. He’s been neck-deep in code for as long as I’ve
been worrying about newspapers and we’ve both done it so long now
that we wonder if we can do anything else. We’re not alone. There
is a bunch of people out there that defines themselves by the work
they do instead of using some other standard.
For people like us, the unemployment stats we read about are a
scary proposition. It’s not just our income at stake, it’s our role
What a silly and powerless way to look at things. What a
completely unnecessary burden so many people will haul through the
already tough task of finding a new job.
I think Andi and Eleanor have more to be proud of than they
probably give themselves credit for at times. They are moving
forward and exploring new opportunities they never considered and
there is something inspiring about that in and of itself. I
appreciate their willingness to talk to us and share their
Join the discussion by visiting my blog. Find this column on the
opinion page of this newspaper’s Web site and click on the Jeremy’s
Take button. I look forward to hearing from you.
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