“There’s something really horrible about not knowing what you’re doing for a living.”
You graduate from college at the height of your game: diploma in hand, possibly a job lined up and nothing but opportunity ahead.
And then reality sets in.
In these few months since graduating from college, that reality has come barreling in into in ebbs and flows. These months have been full of new beginnings for my peers and I. In the five months since I moved my tassel to the left, I moved from Los Angeles to New York, went from intern to full-time reporter, closed the cross-continental gap of my long-distance relationship, and moved into my very own studio apartment in Manhattan.
I’ve watched my classmates and friends on Facebook and Twitter post statuses about the big tech companies that have hired them and the prestigious graduate school that they’ll be heading to. I’ve seen them enter into new relationships, some have moved back home to save money and others have relocated to the other side of the world for that unknown experience that might wait.
Within the promise of this newness, I’ve felt that I’m not quite where I need to be – wherever that is. I’ve seen my friends lament and express those same sentiments.
And in the middle of all this commotion, I have turned to Grey’s Anatomy to help center my world onto something familiar: Shondaland. Showrunner Shonda Rhimes’ series have played a role in my life all throughout college, ever since Scandal premiered in 2012. Yet, I had never watched her marquee show Grey’s.
Now that I’m deep into season eight I have no idea what took me so long to hop on this bandwagon. The show that follows the development of doctors from interns to residents, traces their relationship woes, their professional struggles and emphasizes the bonds of friendship that carry us through every thing in between feels like my story of trying to come into my own as a young reporter in a New York city newsroom.
It is the show that I didn’t even realize I needed.
“There’s something really horrible about not know what you’re doing for a living,” Rhimes said a decade ago, explaining her reasoning for making the main characters of Grey’s start the show as interns compared to full-fledge doctors.
A lot of the time at work I feel like the doctors on Grey’s do: flying by the seat of my pants. Like these fictional doctors who I’m assuming went to fictional medical schools, in reality I also went to a school that trained me for the profession I’m in. Yet, the more time I spend out of school, the more I realize that there’s so much to journalism that J-school just can’t prepare you for.
(I mostly think about this when I’m fumbling my way through Terminal functions to bring up stock shares, but that’s for a different blog).
In Grey’s, the interns look up to the chief surgeons. They vie against one another as to win the attention of the surgeons who in turn will take them under their wings, teach them the craft and allow them to perform more surgeries. In the same way, this is how I’m approaching the newsroom.
These first few months are about identifying what I need to learn, soaking in that knowledge from those around me and not getting discouraged if my first surgery – I mean, article isn’t the work of God. Being the best takes time and effort, with a healthy dose of self-confidence.
The show’s Meredith Grey and Christina Yang didn’t reach their peak in the first season. (Or even the eighth for that matter). Nor will I (but I’m sure it wouldn’t take me anytime – that’s that self-assurance I was talking about earlier).
But this also means I’ll have to work toward my goal every time I walk in that newsroom.
Not knowing what you’re doing for a career is certainly horrible. But what’s worst than not knowing what you’re doing is having no curiosity of finding out. Last week when I celebrated my one-month work anniversary in the newsroom, I felt conflicted at the milestone. I was upset because it didn’t mean anything to me.
I hadn’t set a goal, so there was nothing to look forward to. I’m changing that going forward. I want to feel the triumphs of pitching an enterprise story on a challenging topic. I want to learn from the setbacks that feel debilitating at the time but realizing they’re crafting me for something even better down the line.
Grey’s has reminded me that despite what happened the day before, you have a responsibility to keep getting up in the morning – at the crack of dawn! – and sharing your talents with the world.
Because who knows, it might save a life like it does on Grey’s. But in the meantime, I’ll keep writing.