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Walking Into the Fire?

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For the last half of my life, I’ve been certain that journalism is the career path for me.

I think I’ve written that sentence at least 500 times since I turned 16.

It started off as a younger me finding it incredible that people could get paid to talk about baseball on television, but it’s only evolved and grown since then. I love to write and keep myself up to date with the world around me, but most importantly, my curiosity has only grown to explore and find out more.

I’ve always questioned everything (to the annoyance of my mother and everyone around me.) I’m not sure why I’m like this; I don’t think this makes me unique, but much like the campers at my summer job (camp counselor), I always want an answer. The difference, I feel, that sets me apart is that if I can’t properly receive an answer, I get annoyed and/or upset.

That’s why journalism, despite being one of my greatest sources of joy, has also been one of my biggest uncertainties.

Am I creating my downfall?

Perhaps that sounds doomsday-ish, and it is, but let me explain.

It’s no secret to anyone that has known me what I want to be. This has become my identity to my friends and family; everyone knows I will be a writer, and that’s how it will always be.

I went from Steven the kid to Steven the writer in a blink of my eye, and I like this, but I question if the pressure I’ve put on myself to make it has made me sad and distressed. Honestly, I’ve been a quitter my whole life; I’m a doer in the sense that I’ll try anything, but the moment a stressful obstacle comes in the way, I’m out the door.

Barring my relationship and writing, I don’t really have much to ride off on in terms of long-term success. Again, I’m definitely downplaying myself, and perhaps I’m wrong, but this is how I feel, and nobody can take that away from me.

“I want to enter a dying field that pays complete shit; what the fuck am I doing?”

I say those words to myself every. Single. Day. I even stay up sometimes and just go in a circle about it.

On one hand, I live in a capitalist and work-driven, “strap on your boots and get a real job!” mindset, but if anyone knows me personally, that isn’t really me. But through years of high school (and college), that thought has been pounded into my head.

Combine that with people looking at me like my ambition is just a phase before I get a real job, it makes it hard for me to believe in myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m a terrible and unoriginal writer that hates interacting with people that doesn’t have the drive and ambition to succeed. But despite all of these feelings, I still never want to leave this.

Journalism, in the weirdest way possible, gave me one of my first lessons in true love; sometimes, you need to take a step back and reflect, because things aren’t always what they seem to be.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this honestly; If I could give Tales of an American Redhead a description, I think that would be it. I guess when you don’t really have a lot of friends and don’t like most people, you’re inclined to bottle shit in, hence why I’m talking to a computer instead of people. It’s like my little pity party!

Society has pitted me into a war with myself, what do I weigh more: having an enjoyable life or making money?

My heart has always told me to follow my writing; I want to be like Orwell or Hemingway (without the early death and/or suicide.)

I wrote about this for my college essay, which also won me the Nassau Reading Council’s Best Young Writer Competition (I bet the pictures are somewhere on the internet.)

I was trying to find a quote to share, but I absolutely hate to read my writing; it stresses me out and does nothing but make me obsess over things I can’t change. But here’s a quote anyway:

“‘Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.’ I look at the quote again, it’s definitely the right choice for me, it’s how I want to be remembered. I want to change the world with my words; I want people to read my work and feel something, whether that’s happiness, sadness, or anger, that’s not for me to decide. I’m not sure if I believe in fate, but I know one thing: I want to be a journalist.”

When I read those words to a half-empty crowd at Molloy College, I feel like I signed a contract; this was my life now. The expectations are set, and I’m not afraid of not meeting them, but I’m afraid of succeeding and then still failing after all the hours of work because of factors that aren’t in my control.

Love or money? That’s the greatest question I ask myself.

I could easily change everything I’m doing now, become a high school history teacher, join a boring union. Have a nuclear family. Make a nice middle of the class salary with an average house and boring life. But that has never and will never be who Steven Keehner is. Everyone has told me that this big change would come, but despite all of my fears and self-doubts, I’m still fucking fighting for my dreams.

I guess I’m making a formal declaration to myself, I will follow my heart despite everything my brain has ever told me.

I know that I’ll get by if everything fails, but I don’t believe I could ever live a truly happy and enjoyable life if I didn’t take a chance here. And this is a big chance.

If you’re still here, thank you and I love you for listening. I want happiness; in the stress of everything, I know that I can achieve it. I’m only going to get one chance at this, so let’s see what happens.

I know that I will need to be a step ahead of everyone around me if I ever want to carry out my goals, but no one ever changed the world by playing it safe. This includes me too.

About the Writer
Steven Keehner, Associate Editor

Steven Keehner is a media studies major with an unhealthy addiction to coffee and the British band, Oasis. Hailing from the mediocre town of Oyster Bay,...

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Walking Into the Fire?