Friday, January 29, 2010

I Breathe Power

As many of you know, I am currently an intern at WSB TV, the ABC affiliate station in Atlanta. Can I just say this has been the most personally stressful internship I have ever taken. I've never felt more incapable. Yeah, I've had my share of crazy jobs. On a scale of 1 to 10, PINK Magazine ranks 150 on some stuff I'll never put myself through professionally ever again, but I finally found the one job I am so eternally passionate about, and here is my opportunity to make my bold entrance into the field. The problem is I am so anxious to make a good impression, I'm scared to make a bad one, which results in my not making any impression at all.

I am one month into the starting position of a lifetime, and I refuse to squander my opportunities, so I've turned to other people's experiences for a little inspiration.

Meet Robert Greene. I've been reading The Art of Seduction for maybe three years now (it's what I need when I need it), and I recently downloaded The 48 Laws of Power, so it's safe to say I'm a fan of his work. I am also, however, skeptical of anyone who claims to have life all figured out, and frankly if you follow his words, you'll beast this little world we live in. So I had to find out who he is, and because I'm just not that connected in the media industry, I found all I needed on his blog. Drink this nourishing excerpt below:

"When I was fresh out of college and starting my writing career at a magazine in New York, I will never forget a particularly lovely spring afternoon in which the editor of the magazine invited me for lunch to discuss my latest article. I thought it was a good piece I had written and was expecting some praise. Instead, he proceeded to dissect the article, explain why it was so bad, why I would never be a writer, and what other careers I should think about.

This of course shocked me. But instead of thinking of myself, I couldn't help study the man who was saying this. He was downing one gin and tonic after another, in the middle of the afternoon. The following image came to me, one I remember to this day as vividly as ever: this man was like a house that looked okay from the outside, but on the inside, all of the beams and supports were rotting and termite infested...from alcohol, from his own sad life. I also had the feeling that maybe some twenty years earlier another editor had given him the same ugly talk, and it worked, and so instead of being a writer, he turned into a dried-up editor, full of regrets. His way was not to help others avoid the same mistake, but to do the opposite.

I went home and thought about this, a lot. Yes, my writing could sometimes be a little chaotic and all over the place, but I was young, finding my voice. Deep down inside of myself I had faith. I was different and weird, and I would express it in words or go down in flames. But why was this man deliberately trying to sabotage me? Why not be constructive and helpful? It soon dawned on me that this was not an objective opinion on his part, but some twisted need to put down other young writers. Working with mediocre writers made him feel better about himself. With such writers, he could do a lot of editing, which was obviously his big joy in life. Analyzing it in this way, I felt I had absorbed my first body blow in the work world and had survived.

Over the years, I collected many more body blows from idiotic editors, manipulative bosses who took credit for my work, sadistic managers who wanted to show their power, saboteurs of all kinds (what can I say, I worked in Hollywood for several years.) But for some reason this first one has always stood out, because it taught me something I will never forget: there are ugly people in the world.

They manipulate, play political games, etc. Their first concern is not doing a good job but protecting their egos, assuaging their insecurities. It is not my role in life to figure out what their problem is, or what made them this way, or how I can help them. I am not a social worker. I will not get sucked into their dynamic, or allow my emotions to be entangled in their games. It is nothing personal. Their problems go way back, to mommy and daddy, no doubt. I will get out of their way, or I will find ways to protect myself, or even return their blows if necessary. It can be rough out there, and I am not going to whine about it or complain, I am going to succeed and have the last laugh in this life."

So this is obviously the worst case scenario in my mind. I think I would die if someone told me I should find a different career. This is what I want to do. And because it's in front of the camera, I'm leaving myself open for all sorts of scrutiny and judgment. No one has ever put me down at WSB, but if they do what will my response be? Will I run away and re-evaluate my entire life? Not anymore. And three New York Times bestselling novels later, I can see what quitting can prevent. I can see what self confidence can accomplish. I can feel what power promotes. All of my fear comes from within, and Robert Greene isn't more divinely favored than I am. I can reach my dreams too. Cue the Goapele.

Hell yes I need a lot of work to be where I want to be. Bring it on. Or better yet, I'm going to go find it. I am going to succeed and have the last laugh in this life.


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