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And the shouting

There’s this famous Ira Glass quote about closing the gap. And I’m paraphrasing here, but generally: it’s the feeling that you know what you want to do and the struggle is you work and work at it, but you create something below that expectation. There’s a chasm between what you want to create and what you are able to create. Only through repetition and dedication do you approach meeting those expectations. Not to be all journalisty here but it’s kind of the premise that balloons into Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour theory.

Anyway, I was thinking about that Glass quote today. And I felt genuine envy. Because I haven’t felt the gradual inch forward in a while. It’s not the feeling that I can’t see the forest from the trees, it’s that I’m on the edge of the forest, trying to clear a path in. I’ve left journalism grad school, idling by, hoping for a job—just the chance to turn the gears forward, to become a journalist, a writer, an editor, a something. But here I am, tapping away, drinking awful homemade iced coffee on the porch of my parents’ house.

It’s really easy to fall into self-pity or cynicism when idling. Hell, the last paragraph certainly sounds like it. But here’s the thing: I get it. I get why I’m stuck in neutral. Does it suck to send out 30 applications and receive one response (a no)? Sure. Does it feel like chucking your resume into a fire pit would be a quicker means to the same end as applying to a job? Certainly. Do I feel like I completely deserve the jobs I’m applying to? Nope (well, a portion of them, anyway). But I’m asking someone to take a punt, and that’s fine.

I’m a restless person by nature. I need something to do, and when I feel engaged by that something, I move at the end goal with force. Leaving J-School and not immediately finding work corroded at my internal engine’s churn. It feels clunky. But I hate growing cynical about where I am. In J-School itself I met some great people and some genuinely inspiring professors. But going into grad school you imagine coming out with a degree and the secret password that gets you a job. Like, I imagined getting out, walking up to a publishing big wig and saying flamingo, monopoly, abierto and boom I get a job.

This whole thing isn’t about being unemployed and depressed about it, really. It’s not about the smashing your head into a brick wall feeling, really. Okay, I’m lying, a little bit of this rambling is about that. I hate the feeling of waking up, unfulfilled, undirected. But one of my favorite professors from grad school taught us that every good story has a universal truth, a sneaky little thing that swims underneath the surface of the narrative. Here’s what I think Glass, and Gladwell, my job search, and going to grad school all have in common:

People talk about the pursuit of happiness, that we all have this fundamental right to be happy and I think that’s a misguided pursuit. I heard this theory somewhere, that happiness is hard to get and it’s fleeting and it’s a momentary feeling. Contentedness, the calm knowing of your position and feeling okay with that, is more permanent. I think I’m searching for the calm of being content with my progress. I feel like a car stuck in neutral and I’m slamming the gas pedal to the floor and I’m not getting anywhere. And the thing is, there’s only one way to change that: action.

So I’ll keep sending out resumes, and I’ll keep hoping on hope something will go right. But until then I can make my own hours happen. I can work toward something, even if I’m not sure what it is. I can write down words and hope a few stick. To me, The Tumult is a place to throw the thoughts down, to drive forward, to build stories again. It’ll be about sports, pop culture, politics, personal lives and miscellaneous tidbits. And knowing the writers, we will probably feature love letters to hot wings and tacos. We’re going to throw words at you. We hope they make sense.

Writing this, I felt that gap that Ira Glass talked about. I imagined this perfect little narrative in my head and it came out all disjointed and not at all how I pictured it. And that’s frustrating. And it’s a start. So here’s to The Tumult.

–Tim.

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