DO you remember what it felt like when you broke up with your first love?
The sleepless nights, the heartache, the long staring sessions at the ceiling wondering if you made the right choice. The random bursts of tears, not wanting to leave the house and the calls to your best friends asking “did I do the right thing?”
I felt and experienced all those things when I decided to leave my first, longest and most important relationship.
Breaking up made me feel like I was losing a part of my identity and for the first time in a long while, I felt lost and life was aimless.
That’s how I felt when I broke up with journalism.
MY FIRST LOVE
But in order for you to understand our deep love, I have to explain why we fell in love.
My favourite thing about balik kampung was watching the news with my grandparents. They would sit in their armchairs (black for grandpa, maroon for grandma) and I would sit on the floor between them.
We’d watch hours of CNN and the BBC, with pauses when it rained because of the service distruption.
That’s how I first discovered the world, learned about its infinite places, and watched its pain and pleasures. I witnessed Princess Diana’s funeral, reports of the Asian tsunami in 2004 and the inauguration of George W. Bush, all in my grandparents’ TV room.
I loved the stories but was mesmerised by the storytellers.
One day, we were watching Christiane Amanpour and I said to my grandma, “I want to do that one day”. She looked at me and said: “Of course you can, but I don’t think it’ll be very safe.”
I ignored the second half of her sentence and firmly decided that I was going to be a journalist. My grandparents were going to watch me on CNN one day and I’ll be telling them stories about the world. Click, I was in love.
OFF TO J-SCHOOL
This obsession fuelled the next 10 years of my life until I was accepted into one of the most prestigious journalism schools in Canada. My grandma passed away the year before I left for Ottawa so she never got to witness how she impacted my dreams.
I thought about her even more than usual during my first day on Carleton University’s campus. I was sad but journalism consoled me — we were beginning a new chapter in our journey together!
I started j-school (that’s what the cool kids call journalism school) with barely any friends and the conscious feeling of not being good enough constantly hovered over me.
I drowned in a room of 400 incredibly smart kids — all who looked, sounded and thought differently from me. I had no background or knowledge of Canadian politics, history or culture — I was lost.
First year was particularly tough as I tried my hardest to assimilate to Canadian life (the snow is no joke) but I found a good gang of friends who taught me the ropes.
Journalism and I had the time of our lives in Ottawa. I had the opportunity to write amazing stories and speak to incredible people.
I spoke to Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev (leader of the Soviet Union during the Cold War) for a story I did about how the Cuban Missile Crisis affected present-day politics.
I filmed a short documentary on Jim Watson, the mayor of Ottawa. We followed him around for a day. I interned with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). I will forever be grateful for all these and countless other gifts that journalism gave me.
Every year before we started a new term, our professors would ask us “who in this room wants to be a journalist?”
I had my hand up even though every year the number of hands in class dwindled. I was determined that journalism and I were going to make it through.
We were going to forever be a dream team. I was going to be the first Malaysian who was an international broadcast journalist on CNN. No doubt about it.
Journalism and I had many sleepless nights fighting over what angle to take with a story. We went through countless vats of coffee and I sought comfort in it on sick days when I’d watch hours of news in bed.
But some time before graduation, Journalism and I weren’t feeling the same way about each other anymore. I was tired by the constant energy and enthusiasm it needed from me. It mentally and physically drained me. It also did not help that other dreams and ambitions were flirting with me.
I should stand strong! How could I abandon it? We had been through so much together. We have big goals stretching ahead of us. I owed journalism the chance to try and make it work between us.
As graduation loomed, my classmates were applying for internships, jobs and contracts with news outlets and media agencies, and all I could do was stare at blank application forms night after night.
Had our love fizzled out? Is it possible that I no longer love journalism and our relationship has run its 14-year course? Why am I giving up now?
I had wished for something, thought about it every day and yearned obsessively for it. Suddenly one day, when it was so close to being mine, I stopped and asked “Is this it? What I’m wishing and working for?”
I felt like a failure when I admitted to myself that this was not going to work. I felt crappy. I constantly thought: “What is wrong with me?”, “Is it wrong that I don’t love it anymore?” How could I just slam the door on journalism’s face after all it has given me?
After weeks of reflection on what I should do, I simply realised that dreams change.
Life is about moving forward and that means constant change, big and small. I was not the same person I was 14 years ago. I was a 24 year-old with the world enthusiastically banging on her door.
I could either try and make an old dream work just for the sake of saying “I did it” or I could leap forward and chase new dreams and goals.
I kissed journalism a soft sweet goodbye. It had been good to me. It deserved to live on well in my memories.
I decided to take the plunge and not apply to any journalism-related jobs after graduation and instead took up an executive assistant position with an amazing role model and mentor at Carleton (I love you, Kelly!)
Dreams shift. Mine certainly have. Though journalism was a strong, passionate and worthy relationship, it’s something that just didn’t work out. In life, you have to let things go. I am thankful that I have now found new loves, discovered happy spaces where I can grow, find bright dreams and go as far as they’ll take me.
**THE IMANDATORY READ
As assistant to fashion icon Vivy Yusof, journalism graduate Iman Azman finds herself thrown deep into the fashion world, a universe once foreign to her. Here, she muses about her work, finding balance in life and shares what it’s like having a front row seat in the fashion industry. Follow her journey on Instagram @iman_azman