THE BLOG

Reporter's Notebook: Why I Became a Journalist

09/10/2013 12:24 EDT | Updated 11/10/2013 05:12 EST

I didn't always want to be a journalist. My first memory of considering what I wanted to be when I grew up is of when I was about eight years old. We had to fill out an "about me" sheet at the beginning of the school year and in the blank following the word "career" I wrote "artist." I had always been told I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be, and I really loved to draw and paint.

By the time I reached high school, my dreams of becoming the next Van Gogh had waned. (I was rather fond of all my appendages and wasn't quite as good with a pencil and paintbrush as I had initially thought.) Now I figured I should be something that mattered, do something with my life that made a difference. I thought about being a doctor. I considered going to law school (not all lawyers are money-grabbing scumbags like the stereotype says).

And then I remembered the feeling I got when I was writing: pure bliss.

But were my feelings what really mattered? Was that really giving back?

I recently found out that it absolutely was. Because what a journalist does involves more than just writing. It takes a keen eye to spot the right story. It takes time and dedication to chase down the facts and figures. It makes a difference to tell someone's story.

I got an email earlier this week from a woman in New Jersey who works with victims of domestic violence. She had read my story for USA Today about a new project in the Brazilian city of Vitória that gives women with court-ordered restraining orders against their abusers a panic button. She wanted more information. She thought the idea might be able to help some of the women she worked with too.

Writing that story really mattered to me. It gave me pure bliss to think that my job, in that moment, was to share an idea that was helping so many others have a better life.

So always do what makes you feel pure bliss. If you do, it will make a difference.

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