on loving — but sometimes not — one’s job

July 13, 2011

I’ve had an interesting experience over the past few days.  First of all, I had a migraine.  This in and of itself isn’t interesting or new.  The degree of severity, new symptoms, incredible duration, and lack of response to my prescription drugs exhibited by this migraine were definitely all interesting and new, if by “interesting” you mean “dear god make it stop.”  Let’s just say for brevity’s sake that I definitely have a doctor’s appointment for next week and I was laid up on and off to one degree or another since last Friday.

What was most interesting, though, was how much my opinion of my job turned around once I started feeling better.  Towards the end of last week when the headache was impending and finally hit, I was feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and undersupported, and a few times I felt like I was right back in grad school.  Monday and Tuesday of this week, I felt even worse, and hated myself for failing to get things done well, and taking so long (in newsroom time) to get them done at all.

But today, I felt like I was queen of the newsroom.  My editor and I talked about a story I’d been struggling with, and he wants me to expand it into a big piece that will totally indulge my nerdiness.  Better, when I fessed up to him that I had no idea what I was doing and was really afraid of stories like this one where there are lots of pieces to stitch together, he told me, “this is your chance to get some experience and get better — use it!”  Yay supportive mentors!  And finally, when I picked up a story for tomorrow at 1 p.m., I did all the reporting and had it to my editor by 6:30 p.m (reality check: this is slow for experienced journalists, but a record for me, at least for a story more complex than “the smoke blew in from the east today, and meteorologists say it will be gone tomorrow”).  Plus, it was a really cool story.

Basically, today I was able to communicate effectively with my editor, do my job efficiently, and I enjoyed the crap out of it the whole time.  I couldn’t do any of that when I was feeling shitty.

It really makes me wonder if I would have felt better about grad school if, well, I’d felt better.



  1. My confidence level and how much I like my job are very, very strongly influenced by how well I feel. Many of the migraines I’ve had in the last few months have been low-grade enough that I could work through them, but I haven’t gotten much done because I was depressed and all of my insecurities magnified.

    The same is true of other jobs I’ve had. I try to judge a job based on how much I like it on days that I feel well. Writing code and grant proposals on a good day is pretty awesome. Doing tech support on a good day is meh. At the same time, I have to balance the demands of the job with the demands of the migraines – Will I have to miss sleep to make these deadlines? Can I eat often? Do I have to be under harsh florescent lighting a lot? How flexible is my schedule?

    The point of that was – I don’t doubt that you would have liked grad school more if you were better, but that doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision when you left.

  2. I definitely don’t doubt that I made the right decision, but I find it saddening to think I could have been a lot less miserable.

    I’d definitely noticed a lot of what you describe in grad school, but this was the first time I’d ever had such a dramatic swing from “this is perfect!” to “I am doomed.” It was really quite startling. I was never quite that ill in undergrad and right afterward, so I didn’t have the same flip-flop experience, even though I loved my education job then for sure.

    But no, I never quite had that “this is perfect!” feeling in grad school (and frequently had the “I am doomed” one), so I have no hesitation in saying that I did the right thing.

    And I hope things get easier for you in your new, more atmospherically stable location!

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