For a guy who (admittedly) has a horrendous memory, certain things remain as vivid to me as they were the moment they happened.
I still remember walking down the hall to the conference room. I still remember my legs shaking with each step. I still remember what I was wearing. I still remember the conversation when the hiring editor told me that after three-plus years as a part-time reporter, I had earned a promotion.
That was two years ago today.
I remember thinking, “My life finally has direction,” and firmly believing it. To me, this was the giant break that I needed for the things I needed in life — a livable wage, the ability to save even a little something — to become a reality. I had no clue what this change would mean for me in the long run, but I was elated to be in the moment.
Now, two years later, I don’t have the first damn clue where my life is headed. Part of me is frightened by that, while another part of me is eager and excited to see what’s in store.
People have asked me recently (more than usual) about my long-term aspirations. “What is your dream job?” “What can you see yourself doing?”
I have different answers to both.
To the first question: My “dream” job — which has an emphasis on “dream” — is something that will make me happy; something that will pay a wage that I can live very comfortably on; something that doesn’t make me feel like years of my life are being taken from me due to stress; something that allows me to reach some level of notoriety; and something that allows me the flexibility to have a personal life.
That may sound like a pipe dream, but then again, it is a “dream” job, and I honestly don’t think those are unrealistic desires.
To the second question: Honestly, there are a number of things I can realistically see myself doing.
I can see myself being a sports reporter for the rest of my life; I can see myself becoming a teacher or professor; I can see myself becoming a successful author; I can see myself writing a successful screenplay or television series; I can see myself becoming some modern-day Hitch; and I can see myself going into a new field entirely and being successful in that venture.
I do think I’m capable of many things, and I don’t think it’s cocky to believe that I can be successful in whatever path I choose to follow.
While these potential aspirations sound great on paper (and in theory) there is a reality attached to each one of them that I’m forever cognizant of.
1. Having a career in journalism requires one of two things to happen: (a) you either bounce around from outlet to outlet, or (b) you can roll the dice that you never get laid off from your current outlet. 2. I don’t have a master’s degree, or any graduate school experience. 3. Becoming a successful author is possible, but extremely difficult. 4. What are the chances of Hollywood even taking a gamble on something I wrote, much less it being a smash hit? 5. How can I separate myself from the thousands of dating coaches out there?
I’m on the wrong side of 27 and these are the dilemmas I face on a regular basis. But for all of the fear and uncertainty attached to them, there is this glimmer of hope that I will actually come out on top in whatever it is I decide to pursue.
This isn’t a, “Woe is me,” post by any means; if anything, it’s meant to show that no matter who you are or what you’re doing with your life, it doesn’t have to define you. I don’t have to be “Mike Zacchio: sports reporter.” I can be “Mike Zacchio: the sports reporter who also writes and talks about love.” I can be “Mike Zacchio: the guy who writes and talks about love, but also covers sports.” I can be “Academy Award-winning writer Mike Zacchio.” Or hell, I can be “Mike Zacchio: banker.”
I don’t know what the future holds, and that’s the honest truth. But I’d lying if I said I wasn’t terrified, or that I wasn’t anxious to see how things turn out.