Remember when you were little and you were caught doing something you shouldn’t have been? Something so bad that your parents would shake their heads and say; “We’re not angry, we’re just very disappointed” and you felt completely and utterly crushed at the mere mention of the word ‘disappointment’? We all do, because that is probably one of the worst things a parent, guardian or someone in a position of authority or trust can say to another person: “I am disappointed in you.”
Of course, being disappointed is something that does still crop up in life; I was disappointed when my long-term relationship ended, I was disappointed when I found out how much post-graduate training costs, I was disappointed when I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. All these events were very disappointing, but nothing hurt more than those long hours I wasted watching that Indiana Jones sequel, where I spent almost the entire time in the cinema thinking: “Aliens! This had better not be about bloody aliens. OHGAWDIT’SABOUTALIENS.” It was so traumatic that I vowed then and there to never watch it again. I even considered trying to find somewhere I could hide, somewhere this terrible film wouldn’t be able find me. (I’m lying, of course, the breakup was the worst; when that happened, I felt like I was full of shattered glass; it coursed through my veins, cutting through me, every breath hurt, but I digress.)
In journalism, you must expect disappointment. You will not always get that interview you’ve been trying to secure for months, you might get passed over for a promotion, you might find that your work somehow gets published without your byline, and of course, you won’t always get to write about the things that you want to write about. You might get yourself an internship or secure a place of a work experience programme that doesn’t lead anywhere, but remember, it’s all part of the learning process. After I had a particularly disappointing internship last year, that turned out to not only be very expensive, but also pretty dull as the journalists there were reluctant to give me any work to do, a former friend of mine snapped, “Oh, you had one bad internship, get over it.”
As dismissive and as unhelpful as her remark was, it got me thinking about the nature of disappointment, especially in the journalism industry. Trying to avoid the inevitable crushing pain of disappointment is useless; it’s going to happen at some point in your journalism career, so learn to roll with the punches. A few months ago, I wrote about rejection in journalism, something which even the best journalists in the world admit happens to them too. Don’t simply attempt to get over it; get angry, channel that anger into something positive, there is no point bearing grudges against people or publications. Don’t waste your anger on others, they don’t deserve it. Use it to better yourself, and change your feelings of disappointment into something much more useful; belief.
Journalism is a competitive industry, an evolving industry, but one that has so much potential for the next generation of journalists.=, and there will be a place for you in it.
Believe in yourself. Don’t give up.