Tag Archives: decisions

Journalism, or am I crazy?

Last week, I came home to news of The Sunday Tribune’s financial difficulties. The vast majority of my Twitter stream alternated between tweets about The Tribune and others about the impending closure of two Waterstone’s outlets in Dublin. While both pieces of news were as bad as each other, and reminded us of the real effect of this recession, the Tribune story struck more of a chord with me.

Not a week goes by anymore without someone asking me what I put down on my CAO or what I want to do with my life. I usually babble on for a minute or so about how I was torn between choosing a science course and a humanities course, but eventually disclose the dream of one day getting paid to write.

Each and every time I answer this question I ask myself where this whole journalism idea came from. The only relative of mine who ever wrote anything was my dad’s second cousin, who published two novels for pre-teens, along with a primary school textbook and a school play. So writing’s not exactly in my blood..

It’s hard to pinpoint when I first got this dream of being a journalist into my head. I suppose I always liked writing. Many a time as a young wan I tried writing a book, and for a few years there kept a diary religiously.

Being editor of the school magazine in TY is probably what made me seriously consider a career in publishing or the media. There were, of course, other people involved with the magazine, and there’s no way it would have ever happened without them, but I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t do a hell of a lot of work to get that magazine printed and sent off to The Irish Times before the deadline for the competition closed.

Having been taught the basics of InDesign by an art teacher in school, I spent my mid-term painstakingly putting the magazine together, bit by bit, before flying off to Paris for a school trip. Last year was much the same, only Paris was replaced by an even better trip to London. In some ways, though, last year’s magazine was a more influential experience. It’s hard to say which magazine was better overall, but if I had to pick one, I’d probably choose last year’s ‘Snap!’ While ‘Ink’ from the previous year was impressive, the bit of experience we had shone through in ‘Snap!’ Above all, I put together every single page of it, and maybe even more importantly wrote an award-winning article about Plugd’s closure.

I know that sounds quite conceited but it’s not. If I could write about Plugd for the rest of my life, then my articles would all be pretty good. It’s easy and enjoyable to write about something you know very well and love even more. And as much as this would be a fabulous career, I don’t think it’s very feasible. Having said that, if you know someone who’d like to hire someone (i.e. me) to write a regular column about Plugd, then do pass on my details.

I remember going to the school magazine awards in the Science Gallery in Trinity in TY. I think it was Shane Hegarty of the Times who told us a story of how his career in publishing started when he put together his 6th year yearbook. It was a nice story to hear because it reminded me a bit of myself, only my ‘career’ started even earlier, in 6th class when I designed the cover of out primary school yearbook. And it wasn’t that I was the only one willing to do it, because everyone in the class had to do one, and then there was a vote among the class. If, one day, I become a mighty successful journalist, this will be my story of my beginnings in journalism. I could embellish it a bit though, and claim that I knew from that very moment it was all I ever wanted to do. How romantic..

Now though, I’m eighteen and need to be a bit more realistic about job opportunities. I could have done the sensible thing and went for Medicine, but when have I ever done the sensible thing? I probably should be contributing to this whole smart economy lark, but instead I’m aiming for the most insecure career possible.

It worries me that I’ll spend my life writing the odd article here and there, struggling to find permanent work or make ends meet. I’m scared that I’ll regret choosing this airy-fairy future over a solid, well-payed, highly-sought-after job. The current vogue of blaming the Irish Government for everything doesn’t really apply here, unfortunately enough. The newspaper industry was changing long before the IMF arrived in the country, so I can’t go shouting at politicians who come canvassing to the door that they’ve ruined my chances of being a journalist. That’s a bit annoying really, because it would have been nice to have someone to blame.

Last June I spent one amazing week working with the Irish Times, and I’d have given anything to stay there and not have to come home and face the raucous music that is the Leaving Cert. When I do imagine my future self, it’s not in a hospital or a lab but somewhere else, less concrete, but there’s usually a notebook in hand or laptop in front of me.

I don’t think I’m in any way gifted at writing or English which sometimes make me reconsider this whole ‘plan’, if you can even call it that. Yes, I’m well able to ramble on and successfully bullshit my way through an exam, but this doesn’t mean I’ll be pumping out literary masterpieces any time soon. Or any time at all.

I may be deluding myself. More than maybe, I’m probably deluding myself. But I think I’ve got to at least try to achieve the dream first, and if it doesn’t work out, I can always marry a farmer…

 

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Guidance…

I don’t know why they call it guidance at all really. You sit there, listening to that ‘guidance counsellor’ drone on and on about how to apply and where you can do level 6 courses and blah blah. I know all this shit already, I need you to help me figure out to do with my life, not tell me that it’s good to get into the habit of filling out forms in black biro.
The prospectii that I already have at home are thrown at me, and I have to ‘research’ a course, research here meaning reading the brief course description that I’ve read ten times myself already. Everyone proceeds to scribble down banal details such as number of places, course code and where to apply. You people think I don’t know this already?!?! You actually think that just by reading the prospectus in the ‘Guidance Suite’ it will miraculously all become clear as opposed to reading it in the comfort of my own bedroom?
So every Monday, I leave the ‘Guidance Suite’ more confused than ever. I’m being told to do Arts or go to a post-leaving cert college. Not being snobby here, but I’m capable of alot more than a certificate, you people should know this. Or has the motto suddenly become ‘Aim low and you might eventually get there via the longest possible route just in time to have the degree you want to stick on the inside of your coffin’. I’m all for looking at different options, and trust me, I have. I’ve possibly looked at every possible area and course available to me. And to be honest, that’s the problem. I’ve too much choice. If I work hard, I can get however many points I want, so that’s not a huge issue. But where to start?
When I was young, very young, I wanted to be a vet. That dream lasted for a good while and I thought I’d never, ever want to do anything else. I even remember telling my parents that you could only do vet med in Dublin, and what would I do, not realising I’d be mad to move away when the time came.
I think Science came next, although maybe there was a very short period of time where I was interested in teaching. But yeah, from about 1st to 3rd year I was set on Science. I was looking at Biomed, Medicinal Chem, general Science, Biochem and so on. Then I contemplated Pharmacy and thought about Medicine, and to this day I still do. Law crept in round about third year, and is still a strong possibility.
Fourth year opened my eyes to the completely new (to me) area of media. Design, journalism and TV/radio suddenly fascinated me. This all happened for numerous reasons and I still have this idea of what I want to do. It’s an extremely idealistic view of what I’d like to end up doing, but everything starts with a dream. I think I love writing, and design too. I like organising and running events. I like the arts and culture. I like the Internet, newspapers, blogs, film and graphic design. I like Irish.
So right now, I have two vastly different options in front of me. I have the scientific one, which absolutely fascinates me. As gay as it sounds, I have a hunger for knowledge, and I like knowing the answers and understanding things. Science is modern and the key to our future as Ireland begins to focus on R&D. The option to study the human body and drugs and having such powerful knowledge seems exciting, and I know I would love studying medicine or pharmacy. It’s the job that’s turning me off. I don’t know how I’d like to be stuck in a lab on my own all day surrounded by test tubes and droppers. I’m not sure if I’d be able to cope in a hospital as contagious diseases scare the living daylights out of me. Being able to save someone’s life would be utterly amazing, but I just don’t know how I’d cope in a hospital, married to my job.
Then there’s option two. If I chose that route, there’s lots more choices to make after that. I was thinking of Law and Irish and if I had to fill out my CAO today that’s probably be number one. Law’s a very broad degree and I think that’s what I need, while Irish would allow me study something I love and use it to possibly get into media or something completely different. Journalism and New Media in UL is something I’ve been looking at too, although it’s a very new course. There’s a few in NUIG that interest me too. That’s the thing about UCC, it’s very ‘traditional’ course-wise. While other colleges are looking to the future and diversifying into modern areas, UCC seem to be holding back a little, and it annoys me, because I really don’t know if moving away is financially feasible.
So here you are, with me in the midst of making one of the biggest decisions in my life. This time next year, that form will have been signed, sealed and delivered. I’m merely a teenager, who still has to get dropped here and there by my parents, who can’t even legally buy alcohol, and yet I’m expected to know what I want to do with my life.
Mind-boggling, in more ways than one.

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The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

On the off-chance you’ve never heard that before, it’s by Robert Frost, not me, but I appreciate the sentiment.

I know I probably seem a bit obsessed with decisions, but I have big plans, and making decisions scares me. No matter what I ever choose to go with, I will always wonder what it would have been like had I picked the other option.

Regret is the worst feeling in the world. I know it’s easy to say in hindsight, but it’s awful if you’ve been that close, and willingly picked a different path.

I’m being very vague and wishy-washy here, but I did make a decision, but I’ll never ever know whether or not it was the right one. One’s memory is never perfectly accurate; you leave out the bad bits and remember the good bits. SO what if, when the time comes round for what I chose, it’s not as good as I remember? What if it hits me that I was ridiculously stupid and should have grabbed the opportunity as hard as I could?

I read this thing before, in the back of an old chemistry book. It was a story about a guy who went to a palace. The prince of the palace gave the guy a spoonful of oil, and told him to go around and admire the wonders of the palace, without spilling the oil. The guy came back, unsatisfied, as he had the oil, but had been unable to admire the treasures. Again the prince sent him off, this time telling him to just admire the surroundings. He returned, but with no oil.

The prince told him that in order to be happy he had to enjoy the wonders and treasures of the palace, but to never forget about the spoonful of oil. A bit like Frost’s poem, it’s just one big metaphor. The palace represents what you want in life, and the oil represents your responsibilities. The true secret to happiness is to go through life enjoying what you want, but always remembering your responsibilities.

It’s true I think. At first I was like, ah feck the responsibilities, but when I thought about it, I realised you can’t do that. If tomorrow I decided I was going to drop out of school, leave my family and friends, and just get away and do what I want, I’d never be happy. Aside from any financial problems I may encounter, I would forever have this niggling feeling that I should be getting an education and living with family and friends.

Coming back to my decision, I try to relate it to this. As much as I try though, I really can’t see how I would have been ignoring my responsibilities by seizing the day and taking that opportunity. That particular palace wouldn’t have made me spill the oil.

I’m making such a big deal out of it all, and I analyse my decision every single day. Chances are I’m remembering the palace as being alot more amazing than it ever was. After experiencing part of both options, I made a decision. That decision was influenced by others, I know that, but I still contributed hugely to it, so surely it’s what was right to do?

I hate not knowing. Sometimes I wish I could gaze into a crystal ball and see what the correct decision was. But life doesn’t work that way.

You can only learn from the past, and mistakes are the greatest teacher of all. It’s true, even if it completely and utterly sucks.

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