Thursday, August 16, 2007

Priority Disconnect

I spoke with somebody who has a relatively revered position in my office last week. She's an accomplished journalist and I am really interested in her job--in the theoretical, academic sense. So, I asked to meet with her. She readily agreed. I wanted to talk about her job. She wanted to give me career advice.

Okay, career advice can be useful--except when the career advice goes something like this:

Never take a job for the hours or the location. If you have to work 4 to midnight, then that's fine. And you should go somewhere far away and crazy, somewhere west of the Mississippi but not the West Coast [translation: somewhere in the middle of nowhere]. Maybe Denver or El Paso or San Antonio. Have an adventure. And don't, under any circumstances, fall in love. You're not in love already, are you? I cannot tell you how many women I know who got married and had kids right away and at 27 thought their lives were over. I got married at 34, and I think that's about the right age. Not before that. And you have to work at a newspaper [as opposed to a wire or a magazine or a trade publication] because that's the only place you'll learn anything. And don't worry, I knew an Orthodox Jew who worked at [a newspaper in the middle of nowhere] and she was terrified that she woulddn't get married, but she got married at 40 and had step-children since she couldn't have children of her own, so don't worry.

So, essentially, she told me that my most recent decision was dead wrong and that I should make my career my only priority and relentlessly pursue it. And maybe it worked for her--she, I think, is very happy with the way her life turned out. But that is not my priority list, cannot be my priority list, should not be my priority list.

It, nevertheless, did not put me in a particularly good mood. I never liked how she does her job anyway.


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