I never felt so glad to be let-down. Had life given me what I so wanted, I wouldn’t be where I am now. What we want isn’t always what we need or what’s best for us, even if we believe wholeheartedly that it must be. When things don’t work out, it’s so easy to sulk in disappointment, to dwell on “unhappy circumstances” instead of looking ahead to a future moment of understanding where we will be glad we didn’t get what we wanted. It’s hard to imagine such a moment could even exist, but then, somehow, at the right time, it just does.
A few weeks ago as I walked down King Street in Olde Towne Alexandria, Virginia, it brought back memories of my last semester of college in Washington, D.C. My friend Amanda and I would walk from our dorm to Union Station and take the metro to Alexandria for dinner and a walk around the downtown riverfront where we would talk journalism and bash politicians, gazing out over the river where we could see the top of the U.S. Capitol Building. The Chesapeake aroma of wet wooden docks and old bay seasoning coats that street down by the Potomac River, bringing me back to nostalgic days of summers on the Chesapeake Bay before our family’s shore house in Wildwood, New Jersey. As I made my way down the street, I couldn’t help but notice The Alexandria Times out front of many storefronts and homes. In September of last year, I had gotten a chance to interview for a reporting position for the paper. I was so excited because the interview went so well and I thought it was certainly my chance to get back to D.C. I had later found out that the position had been filled, and not by me. At the time I was so disappointed and letdown. While I kept walking down King Street I came across a Real Estate office with some homes for sale posted in the window. There was a photo of a small, two floor home, with a little yard and lawn. There was nothing particular or interesting or even unique about the house at all, as the photo depicted it sitting quietly in a normal suburban neighborhood of Alexandria. The home cost $609,000. It literally made no sense. One could purchase beach front, bay front, river front, mountain view homes cheaper than that. But this was Alexandria… home of the nation’s corporate and political elite (with the exception of Manhattan) It was in that moment that I thought to myself, wow… would I really would have wanted to write for that audience? The know-it-all’s surely wouldn’t want someone like me reporting for their town… and God forbid you ever slipped up, or misspelled a word, or forgot a comma, or offended someone. Whew, what pressure and anxiety, yet I didn’t even think of it that way or realize it when I so badly wanted the job.
There were instances in my few months of waiting and wondering what step was next to take in life when I just wanted to uproot myself completely and move back to D.C. or Chicago or Los Angeles… I had friends and connections but there weren’t necessarily any doors that were open or beckoning me or leading me in a particular direction. I could have done it, but it would have been selfish in a sense… instead, I continued to wait until a door opened that would really direct and guide me. Keeping faith and trusting God is no easy task sometimes, but then, one day when I was on my way to Toms River, New Jersey, to help out with a volunteer group that was rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, I got an email that would change everything.
Finally, a job offer. And not a freelance, project-based job that I had become accustomed to, but one with a steady salary. With years of freelancing and unpaid and paid internships in the hopes of finding something full-time in my incredibly struggling field, it finally happened, and from where I would have least expected. Back in 2009, when I first started writing for various newspapers and magazines, I emailed Dorothy Kulisek, the publisher of the incredibly unique, retro, nostalgic Sun newspaper in Wildwood where I was spending my summers. Little did I know that Dorothy and I would become great friends over the years and that she would give me an abundance of stories to write and events to cover. She would always overpay me and go above and beyond for me, taking me in as if I were her own. Dorothy gave me the experience I needed to go on through college and to get the various internships and job opportunities I would have. She also gave me complete and utter creative freedom, hardly ever editing my stories and allowing me to take any angle I wanted. She trusted me and as much as I’d like to think I earned that trust, I think she just gave it to me right away, as if she just knew she could. I can’t say enough good things about Dorothy and her genuine heart.
So, as I made my way to help out with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, Dorothy emailed me asking if I would be interested in a full-time position as the Managing Editor of her sister publication that had just started last year, The Ocean City Sun in Ocean City, New Jersey. It came at just the right time, when I was taking a break from focusing so intently on myself and my search for a more steady job that was in my field. The Jersey Shore had always meant something to me, ever since I started spending my summers there as a kid and it had broken my heart when my parents finally sold our family shore house. Having stayed at my aunt’s condo in North Wildwood for Hurricane Sandy, I watched firsthand as the storm devastated the coast. My heart went out to the people in these shore communities and as thrilling and fun as experiencing the hurricane was, I was still sad and it was never a question that I was going to go help rebuild.
After reading the email I was amazed… surely it was not at all what I had been expecting. I thought for sure something was going to open up in D.C., Philly or maybe Chicago. Some staff writer would have to die or retire or move or get another job at some point, right? You’d think… But here I was, blindsided, but in a good way. All of a sudden, instead of seeking a job as a staff writer or a reporter I was bumped up to Managing Editor, something that takes writers years to achieve, and only some actually get there. After I accepted the position I got another job offer in New York City, one that paid the same amount but I was only a writer, one that had to produce at least ten stories a day for a popular Internet based news site… sounds draining, right? Instead, I was the Managing Editor for a magazine in a beach town, where I was free to write on anything I wanted, including short fiction and even poetry. I had a deadline, but not the pressure of producing so much in just a day only to wake up and do the same thing the next day, in the same office, slaving away for a company that wasn’t owned by me, so that other people more higher-up I make money (as well as me) but not nearly as much, of course. Instead, I was offered the position of boss, in a beautifully unique and history-filled barrier island beach-town that I had visited, but wasn’t totally familiar with, but could claim as my own. The decision was easy.
Although I surely don’t condemn acting on impulse in some instances, I was so glad that I didn’t in this case. I was so ready to uproot myself but instead, I struggled through trusting God to direct my path and open the right door at the right time and exactly that happened. It wasn’t at all where I expected to be or where I even necessarily wanted to be, but I much rather take the path that was specifically set before me, might I say destined for me, rather than just forging my own out of nothing other than selfish ambition. Now I have an amazing team of hilarious, passionate employees, found a beautiful, ideally located apartment that suits me perfectly, and a job that gives me the flexibility and creative freedom to do something I absolutely love as well as maintain my own projects like blogging (this post you’re hopefully reading now) and being able to continue traveling, instagraming and writing. Yes, sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe that it’s actually true, that such a job even exists. All of the other jobs that I thought I so desperately wanted would have never allowed me the freedom I have now with this one. It never felt so good to be so let-down.