Category Archives: Proffessional

A bridge over troubled water

I don’t remember the first time I heard the song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It may have been in my Dad’s hunter green Tahoe listening to a “Golden Oldies” radio station. It may have been in the living room of my grandparents house listening to an album on their record player. (That I now proudly own, *humble brag*)

It’s a song I just… know. That many, many people know. From the mega famous to the ordinary. It spans generations, continents and cultures.

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all

The London Gay Men’s Chorus sang it in solidarity with the community of Orlando at a vigil held this week in London.

For obvious reasons, this video moved me significantly. I watched it several times. Thinking about Orlando. Feeling heavy hearted for lives affected, and my own. How my life right now seems like a deep, long stretch of troubled water.

I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

I have struggled to put into words what I have been feeling for months on end. I’ve written several unpublished drafts on this blog. Searching for the right way to explain myself. It’s a lot of confusion and hopelessness. Feeling unworthy of opportunity and acceptance. I have felt angry with myself for failing to achieve certain things professionally — and for failing to be someone I am proud of.

I feel lost. All the time. I never seem to know if I’m making the right or wrong decision. I keep looking for “answers” in people, ideas and things… Expecting to have a moment, an “a-ha!” A “now I understand the workings of the universe” epiphany. But after a talk with my mom that went something like this: SOMEBODY SEDATE ME. She told me I wouldn’t understand any of this until I was on the other side.

I’ve heard that being in your 20s is a rollercoaster. I’ve heard it’s for exploration and self-discovery. I’ve heard it’s for dating and traveling. I’ve heard it’s the time to f*ck up before it really matters.

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street

But I hadn’t heard how painful it would be.

Then Orlando happened. And instantly, I am hit with a sweeping wave of guilt. Guilt for failing to appreciate the life I’ve been given. Failing to remember my “troubles” pale in comparison to others. Like the 49 mothers and fathers who will never hear from their child again.

When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you

Last weekend my brakes went out in my car and I hit a wall. Like an actual wall. At a grocery store. And that’s just the first *real* wall this year, the irony isn’t lost on me.

I’ve hit many “walls.” Walls in my personal life, my professional life. Walls that I keep hitting over and over again. I feel like a windup toy, stuck in a maze. I keep making the same mistakes.

I grew up about an hour outside of Orlando. It’s a city where people vacation. It’s the home of the “happiest place on earth.” It’s a family town in many ways, with pockets of charming neighborhoods and lakeside porches. The highways are flanked with lush green grass and palm trees.

It is no place for the largest shooting in U.S. history.

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around

I’ve seen pretty gruesome things during my short time working in news. I’ve seen the worst of humanity, not personally, but close enough to rattle my organs and make me question what my purpose is in this life. Questioning the very industry I work in at times — wondering, what is the point?

As journalists, we are committed to you. We are committed to explaining what is happening in the world. And during catastrophic events like Orlando and Paris, we work long hours. That sometime require talking to a deceased person’s family. Keeping accurate counts of death tolls. Verifying pictures of the dead.

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around

We are not doctors or nurses or first responders or police or trauma surgeons. But we see things in exquisite and alarming detail.

In some ways, we are the bridge over troubled waters.

There are times when I resent my job. There are times when I curse those 3 red letters. There are times when I’m *so pissed* I have to to go to work. But there are times when I talk to people who have done extraordinary things, and I’m reminded of the wonderful humans in the world. I come across stories everyday of people demonstrating remarkable kindnesses, and those are only the ones that get reported.

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by

When I read a tiny thing about a tiny person, in a tiny town, that made a tiny difference, it’s like a lighthouse in my brain. Almost instantly, I’m like, “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!” Those stories are the bridge over my troubled waters.

Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine

It’s so easy to think that the world is against you and that the only people here are bad. That people live to see you fall… But I would argue, and I believe in the rawest part of my heart, that they don’t.

Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

Life is brutal sometimes. It’s one lesson after another. It’s a struggle. It’s a climb. It’s one that constantly changes when you need it to be still. And it’s one that’s still when you need it to change.

One of the most comforting things to me have been seeing my fellow colleagues, even if silently, work next to me. We are all doing the same thing. We are all tired. We are all, I assure you — heartbroken.

And sometimes during this life, all we can do, is be a bridge.

For each other.

I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

How #ONA15 helped me face my networking fears

Do you like meeting people?

I’m going to be really, really honest here — I don’t. I hate it. (Keep reading.)

Earlier this year, I bought myself a pass to go to a conference in Los Angeles — the Online News Association’s annual gathering for digital journalists and badasses to come together to share industry knowledge — and talk to each other. 

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What the hell was I thinking? I can’t even drag myself to a professional event in Atlanta, let alone fly across the country to do it.

I’m an introvert. Before you dismiss that claim because you’ve heard my extreme laugh, hear me out.

I am easily overwhelmed by crowds and I generally err on the side of, uh, complete avoidance when it comes to socializing with people I don’t know.

In the days before the conference, I didn’t have much to say about it. “I’m mostly stressed,” was my answer when questioned. I spent most of the night before my flight thinking, “What have I done?”

How was I going to deal with this? How would I survive this mortal combat known as  — “networking?” I gave serious thought to completely ditching it for the sake of “saving money” — and my scared and fragile psyche. But it was a trip to California, for God’s sake. I wear a compass around my neck with a map of Los Angeles pasted to the back of it most days. (It’s cuter than it sounds.)

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There was only one option — a one way ticket to getting the hell out of my comfort zone. So I committed. I packed my favorite blazer, an enormous stack of business cards —  and an attitude synonymous with “Long Black Road.” They used to tell me boy you ain’t goin’ nowhere…

On Wednesday, after a painfully early flight (of sideways sleeping and freaking out) — ONA hosted a Google event in Venice Beach. There was going to be a presentation, preceded by the scariest words in the English language — “light refreshments and mingling.” Oh. God.

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Now, normally, the mention of a mixer would have sent me running for the hills. With my head on fire.

And I didn’t have to go to it. I was tired. So exceedingly tired. I could have just showed up for the presentation and crawled into my plush hotel bed. But I forced myself to go.

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And at first, yeah, I felt really freaking awkward. As expected, I didn’t know a soul, and I just kind of wandered around the room like a lost little kid. Like maybe this cement wall will strike up a conversation with me? I prayed.

But I remembered a simple piece of advice I’d read earlier in the week while prepping for the conference — act like a host, make other people feel welcome, instead of focusing on how weird you feel. So I found someone who wasn’t talk to anyone, and we had things and people in common.

(Funny thing about media conferences, you’re bound to have something in common — you know, like, everything?)

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Once that conversation ended, I picked up another, and another after that. And that’s really all it took. One conversation with one stranger to propel me to have more conversations with more strangers.

I learned a ton of stuff at ONA — including how to negotiate a salary, how to write more engaging content, how to effectively use Snapchat, what the HECK Yik Yak is…

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But the biggest thing I learned was how to face a really tangible fear in my life, a fear that has interfered with my success and growth as a person and a professional — a fear that manifested into a lie about myself that I started believing: That nobody cares or wants to know me.

But they do — and they did, and I want to know more of you in return.

So thanks to all of the people who made me feel welcome, and thanks to the Online News Association for forcing people like myself to face of some of their silliest hangups. It was worth every penny and every anxious thought.

I read and finished Into the Wild during my flights on this trip for the first time. I both admired and pitied Chris McCandless for his bravery, his brashness — and his fear and distaste for intimacy. But we have to assume near the end of the book, as his health deteriorated beyond repair, he began to crave human relationships. Days before his death, he wrote in the margins of a copy of Doctor Zhivago — “HAPPINESS ON REAL WHEN SHARED.”

Indeed.

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Fashionably right on time

Embarrassing confession: I like the new Justin Bieber song. It’s like really catchy, right? Like OMG I might have set it on “repeat” on my iPhone.

I heard it first on iTunes, and then I watched him sob through it at the VMA’s. Poor Biebs. He’s obviously going through some rough stuff. Maybe he feels bad for being a punk, maybe he regrets his side bangs — maybe he’s still pining over Selena.

Either way, Justin Bieber is 21 years old, and he’s worth millions.

I’m 25, and I’m worth, er, not that.

Obviously, this is an outrageous comparison. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we thought it was “outrageous” to compare ourselves to ‘normal’ people, like our friends?

Ah, but we don’t. In fact, we obsess over what other people are doing. That’s what Facebook is for – just post after post, a stream of reminders of stuff we don’t have. A kick ass job, a solid group of friends, airbrushed wedding photos, a baby. The Facebook “timeline” is just an alarm that buzzes, “Hey! You are really, really behind (527 People Like This)”

At some point or another, I think we’ve all established a timelines for ourselves. You know, “I want to be X by 27, Y by 32, and Z by 38.” I know I have. And to a certain point, this can help us meet our goals. But all too-often, the timeline (internal and Facebook) becomes the enemy. It makes us feel really crappy.

It can be a hard pill to swallow, to realize you aren’t where you planned to be at age-whatever-you-are.  There are things I thought I’d be doing at this point that I haven’t even thought about trying to do. And there are things I’ve been trying like hell to get that just aren’t happening.

But that’s because the time is not right. The real timeline had other plans.

But the idea that we have “deadlines” based on a million unknowns is crap. We are programmed to think we should be at certain points by certain ages, based on how we were raised, who we are friends with, and what the world deems as successful. 

What about your values? Your highest ambitions? Your deepest desires? Those things, your purpose for living, don’t deserve deadlines. They deserve to take all the time in the world.

As my mom would say, “There are two ways to skin a cat.” Which means, there’s more than one way to get somewhere and accomplish something. Sometimes that requires taking an alternate route – and it could take a little longer. But you’ll get there, if you want it bad enough. In the meantime, pack up your road map, your check lists, your Pinterest boards — everything that fills you with anxiety, and get the heck out of there.

You are running on your own time, the time meant and created for you.

That’s why you have goals, so you have something to work toward. And if you have any goals at all, you’re already halfway there. Just because you haven’t met them yet doesn’t mean you won’t. In fact, they’re probably just around the corner.

You’re not behind. You are not stuck. You are not fashionably late — you’re fashionably right on time.

Professional jealousy & why it’s the WORST

Jealousy.

We all lug that ugly beast around in some form or another.

If you don’t, you’re a saint, move onto something more your speed — here’s an article about kittens. But I’m all about sharing the good the bad and the ugly.

So without further ado, my name is Jamie, and I’ve probably been jealous of you.

The green-eyed monster, for me, lives mostly in the workplace. Which is basically the worst place it can live. It’s embarrassing, and it’s something I really struggle with.

Here’s some background:

When I started interning a bunch back in college, I was super focused on getting a job in media after graduation. But the media industry is ridiculously competitive, so I developed a mantra.

“If odds are one in a million — be that one.” I wrote it at the top of my agenda every week.

I was super ambitious, but relatively raw. When I got my first big “intern” gig, I was clueless — like what’s a “SCOTUS?”

But I worked like a maniac (quickly learned what SCOTUS was) and found myself learning at an aggressive pace. I was like a brand new horse trying to stand on its hooves for the first time. But evenutally I figured out how to stand up on my own, and it turned into my first job.

For about a year afterward, I lived in a continuous state of feeling “bad.” Beyoncé “FLAWLESS” bad. I developed an ego that rivaled Kanye West and Kim Kardashian combined.

But that sense of pride and accomplishment quickly turned green. Puke green.

I thought I was entitled to success, and I developed an overly inflated sense of my self. I thought I was better than I was.

Working in digital media, being surrounded by superstars is a given. I have a lot of crazy successful friends.

I’m talking about a new species that can write, code, and shoot video in under 5 minutes using an app they developed over a craft beer after the game on Saturday. Millenials are no freaking joke. You wanna feel like a lame-o? Just sit in a room with a journalism major from the University of Georgia for half a second and you’ll run home crying. (Trust me, I’ve done it.)

So despite all my premature success — I came to the abrupt realization that I wasn’t “one in a million,” rather, I was just one in a sea of a million badasses.

Every time I see a friend or peer achieving, I’m happy for them, but I wince with envy deep down in my heart. As shameful as that is, it’s true.

But writing helps me sort out my problems. Which is part of the reason why I air my dirty laundry on this blog. It helps me gain clarity and perspective on things I can’t seem to figure out. It keeps me honest.

Often my editor hacks out some of my favorite lines in the stuff I write for CNN, and though I can’t control that, I can control this “jealousy” thing.

Treat people like they treated you when you got your first job. Revel in their successes, not their failures. Work hard, be nice to people, quit talking a bunch of crap.

Just because your peers are succeeding doesn’t mean you aren’t — and just because your rivals are killing it, doesn’t mean you can’t.

“Jealousy’s a weak emotion.” – Jay-Z

25

I turned 25 last week. Which is, by all accounts, not a big deal. But this particular year of my life involved a LOT of change. I’ve learned a few things, and I’ve grown up a bit. In fact, yesterday, I went to Target to buy hair conditioner and a mop. And I left with ONLY hair conditioner and a mop. I didn’t buy any clothes, shoes or wine. And that, is an accomplishment.

Life isn’t that serious.
I’m sort of a drama queen. Not in the sense of necessarily causing it, just in my reaction and overall delivery. I’ve got an arsenal of facial expressions and hand gestures to fire off in any given argument. And I have a tendency to go straight to “doomsday” mode when things go wrong. In middle school, I brought home a progress report littered with B’s and C’s. My parents went ballistic. I wasn’t allowed to bring home anything less than an A. They scheduled meetings with my teachers, suspended my dance classes and gave me about 25 lectures, a piece. I knew that day, that the world was over. I still haven’t mastered the art of “settling down.” But I AM beginning to recognize when I overreact, which is I think at least a step.

Not ready? It’s okay.
Not ready to get married yet? It’s okay. Not ready to make that big career move? It’s okay. Not ready to move out of your parents’ house? Eh, it’s still okay. Move at your own speed, because if you try to keep up with everyone else, you’ll exhaust yourself, and you’ll be miserable. Do what feels right. You have nothing to apologize for.

Your truest self arrives in the form of a gut feeling.
We’ve all got an inner voice. It pings us when someone seems fake, it encourages us to dream big and it generally steers us toward the greater good. We do one of two things with “the voice,” we follow it, or we ignore it. Too often, I think we ignore it because we doubt its legitimacy, or we convince ourselves that it’s impossible. Dreams and convictions don’t just surface out of nowhere. Could it be possible the voice leads you to your purpose in the world? I think so.

Be fiercely loyal to your loved ones. 
I keep my family and closest friends really close. I’ve only got a handful, and the older I get, the more I want to be totally loyal to them. The people that have clung to me at this point in my life are probably going to stay there. Be good to the people who care about you most. Listen to their boring stories and be available to them no matter how busy you are. They’re the ones who are will carry you when you can’t carry yourself.

Making decisions out of fear is a terrible idea.
How many times have you made a decision because you were scared of the alternative?
I don’t want to break up with him because I’ll never find anyone else.
I have to stick with this job because I won’t find a better one.
I can’t move far away because I’m scared of getting home sick.
These fears, for the most part, are irrational. But they’re unbelievably believable. Especially that first one. If you’re unhappy in any given situation, it requires change. And if the change scares you, it’s a good thing. You’ll be much better for it in the end, even if the light at the end of the tunnel is but a twinkle.

Believe in something higher than yourself.
Knowing there is a higher plan in place makes me have a lot of hope. At age 25, your entire life is one big unknown. Chances are, you haven’t found your dream job, or your soulmate. But chances also are, if you believe, you will.  If you’re finding yourself in a total rut — this is temporary. If you believe in the steadfast power of the universe to align with your deepest hopes and dreams, it will. You’ll find a way. You always will.

Be fiercely loyal to yourself.
Loyalty comes from a deep place of respect and often love. I think a key part of living successfully involves loving yourself. When your core beliefs and values reflect what you’re doing, and you’re succeeding — you start to like who you’re becoming. There’s nothing in the world more gratifying than exuding confidence because you know exactly who you are, and liking it. You become unapologetically genuine when you love yourself, and there’s nothing more likeable than authenticity. One of my absolute favorite compliments in the world, is when people tell me, “You’re so real.” That’s when I feel I’m my best self. So be loyal to the person welling up inside of you. If you love yourself, the world will love you back.

And that’s just fabulous.