Week 28: More than cool
I work at ESPN. I have a cool job. This much we can all agree upon.
Usually, when I tell someone where I work, I hear something along the lines of: “Woah, that’s awesome!” “You have my dream job!” “That sounds like so much fun” or, as I got this past Friday, “You are the coolest girl I’ve ever met!”
You know what, random drunk guy? You might be right: I might be the coolest girl you’ve ever met. But it’s for a lot more reasons than just the brand on my business card.
Recently, I’ve been realizing how much those reactions irk me — not because I don’t appreciate the enthusiasm and not because I don’t agree (my job is fun and cool), but because none of those communicates any sense of respect for what I do.
Now don’t get me wrong: I realize I am not changing the world. I am not a teacher or a counselor or a doctor or a lawyer. I am not shaping lives or curing cancer. I make a difference only insomuch as people need to know whether Mike Trout hit a home run last night (he did, in leading off the All-Star Game. Dude is ridiculous).
However, in sports journalism, we regularly deal with matters of race and gender and sexuality and class and politics and crime and ethnicity — heavy stuff our society struggles to find ways to talk about. At its best, sportswriting allows us a medium through which to have those conversations and see more of the world. Not to mention, I think I bring people information they want and entertainment they need, and at the end of the day, ESPN makes a lot of humans happy.
Another thing: I regularly work remotely, and I can have TV on while I work. I often feel like those two facts make my job seem easy or trivial to others. That’s just not true. The flexibility and the binge-watching are reflective of the nature of digital media today (I can work anywhere) and my brain’s superhuman ability to multitask (it’s not normal) much more than they are indicative of how much focus and attention my job requires.
Sure, my job is small potatoes in the grand scheme of world-changers and difference-makers, and I regularly do my work while on the couch in sweatpants. But this doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. What I do involves three jobs in one, juggling many tasks at once, meeting deadlines, thinking critically, marketing information, thinking creatively, protecting our readers, thinking visually, handling sensitive news, catching errors, fixing grammar, packaging stories, staying informed, paying attention to details and more. My brain is constantly buzzing and stimulated and bouncing around while I am working (that’s one of the many reasons I love what I do).
I do appreciate the excitement and love that people think my job is awesome. But once in a while, I would like someone to be impressed by my actual work more than the fact that the work is for the worldwide leader. I would like to feel someone respects all the things I handle, the fast pace at which I work, the volume of things I have to know and think about, the two degrees I have earned in my field and everything I have done to get where I am today.
At the same time, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I know I work hard to earn my paycheck and I have fun at work every day. My job is cool and fun, but it’s also interesting, challenging and engaging. How many people can say that?
Currently watching: Suits, latest episodes
Currently reading: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Song of the week: Wes Mack’s “The Way You Let Me Down”
Plans for the weekend: Not much as of now. Looking forward to relaxing a bit, hitting the beach and catching up with some friends.