Finding Your Niche: Sometimes You Have to Give Up The Dream
By Elizabeth Green
I still have an “All About Me” booklet I made in 4th grade. On the “What I Want To Be Page,” I drew a picture of me on a stage with a microphone, talking to my live studio audience.
Since I was a little girl, I dreamed about having a fabulous career on TV. I imagined money, fame and a career that couldn’t possibly be more fun. I didn’t just dream though, I acted on it. I hosted the morning announcements, played reporter on our school news show, and participated in a public speaking club to hone my skills. I took home first place in just about all of those events, and was told time and time again that I should go to college for Broadcast Journalism, so I did.
Within two weeks of graduating college, I got married and started my first real job as a television news reporter. While most of my classmates were still sending out one resume tape after another, I quickly climbed the ladder and before long, was the face our community tuned into every evening at six and eleven o’clock.
I had the best spot in that small-town news station. But of course, I wasn’t happy. I wanted more. So my husband and I packed up and moved to a sunnier climate in a bigger city so I could start climbing the ladder all over again.
Two weeks into our move, we got quite the surprise. Yep, a totally unexpected, totally unplanned, and not totally but somewhat unwanted baby. I promised my new news director that it wouldn’t hold me back. And for a while, it didn’t. I worked overnight shifts on a second’s notice, while my morning sickness had me running to the bathroom at every commercial break. I was meant for this and I was not going to let a baby keep me from it.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but slowly, surely, things were changing. I was changing. I was climbing the ladder, but I still wasn’t happy.
And then came that day when I actually became a mother, when I saw the face of that baby that I hadn’t even wanted in my life yet. It’s so cliché, but having a baby really does change everything
After my planned six weeks off work, I called and asked for three more. Then called back and asked for the final three weeks. Everyone kept telling me, you’ll be so excited to get back to work. You will get back into the groove quickly. No. I didn’t want to go to work, ever. All the motivation, energy and dedication I used to feel for work, was now focused somewhere completely else.
The little girl who had dreamed about climbing all the way to the top, about becoming a Good Morning America anchor or maybe even becoming the next Oprah, now wanted nothing more than to be a stay at home mom. That wasn’t an option, so I knew I’d have to leave my career to find a more family-friendly one.
But what in the world was I qualified to do?
I had spent the past several years talking to people, asking some questions, and reading out loud for my paycheck, and I didn’t know any other career that was going to hire me for that. So I started examining everything I did in the day, and how it could carry over to another job. I realized I have excellent time management skills, thanks to (on more than one occasion) running out 45 minutes before a show to shoot an accident, interview an official, come back, edit the tape, put my makeup on, and be sitting pretty when the clock struck 6:00. I know how to be dependable. There is no “I wasn’t very productive today” in a newsroom. You do the same workload, and even more on some days. But never less. There is always 30 minutes of news to fill. I have great communication skills. Beyond being a really good reader, I know how to talk to people, whether their son was just killed, they’ve just been arrested, or they are a high profile community leader in some deep crap. And even bigger than that, I can make them feel comfortable enough to forget they are being recorded. I know how to work great by myself and with a team, both of which are done on a daily basis in news, oftentimes, when you want it be just the opposite.
Do you get the point? Just because I went to school for only one career, and had only done one job, I had lots of skills that could carry over into ANY career. I just had to discover them, and then market them.
It took several months, but I finally found a job that would let me spend more time with my son, while using the skills that I had spent so long fine-tuning. I became a spokesperson for a local sign company, producing and hosting videos for their websites. Signs? I knew nothing about. But I finally realized that didn’t mean I wasn’t qualified for the job.
Turns out, my boss eventually let me move my office home, so now I work as my little boy plays right beside me. And, that job gave me the training and motivation to start my very own business producing and hosting videos for even more websites. That now includes my very own website. I had never imagined, dreamed, or wanted to be a business owner. And I certainly never thought I was qualified to be one. After a little research, interviews with some business owners I know, and some encouragement that anyone can do it, I completely transformed the direction of my life.
I used to live and breathe news. Now, I don’t even watch it every day. Instead, I’m watching my son grow up, and my business expand. And even though it was hard to let go of a dream that I’d had for so very long, I’m now watching a new dream become my reality.
Elizabeth Green is a co-founder of EatingForBreastfeeding.com, a video-based site that gives nursing moms answers to their nutrition questions, straight from a registered dietician.