In some way, I feel like every Black female journalist can relate to the life of Mary Jane Paul on the BET series Being Mary Jane. The tug between family, work, deadlines, finding love, and self discovery that Mary Jane experiences is all too familiar, and it can hit home for journalists like myself. For more than a year, I've been waiting to see what's next for the series since Season 3 left Mary Jane reevaluating everything that happened in her life in Atlanta, and deciding to make a big move to New York. In my mind, at least, Mary Jane's decision to get a change of scenery is something from which all journalists should take inspiration.
We all know what it's like to feel that you need a change of scenery. Sometimes you just know deep inside of you that a major life change is needed to push you forward in your life and career. In 2012, for instance, I made a big decision to move from Houston to Los Angeles to further my education and career. It wasn't an easy choice, because I was raised in Texas, went to college in Texas, and had a career in Texas. But when I turned 23, I knew I needed to expand my life beyond the Texas border, just like Mary Jane chose to move to New York for greater opportunity.
However, if you do decide to make a big move, there is a big chance that you won’t have total clarity about it, and find yourself going back and forth about the decision. As a journalist, a lot of the things we do are calculated, well-researched, and made using rationality. But making a major life change requires emotional thought, too, and it can be difficult decision. In Mary Jane's case she went through a year that saw the suicide of her best friend, Lisa, as well as her niece Niecy getting tasered by the police and then getting fired from her job for speaking out on police brutality. So for Mary Jane, the decision to start fresh and somewhere new was both an emotional and rational decision.
And I think it'll turn out to a good one. Personally, I believe that every journalist should experience some part of their career in a different city. Just like it likely will for Mary Jane, this will bring a new fire to your reporting and story ideas, by giving you a blank slate in every aspect of your life. You'll also feel a sense of freedom, as moving to a new city is like finding a new, reinvented version of yourself. You get to start afresh and present your new environment with a more seasoned version of you, and you get to rid yourself of bad mantras, habits, friends, and family. This freedom will allow you to build up confidence, both in your everyday life and your work as a reporter.
You'll also get to experience new friendships. A new city will open up your world to a diverse mix of people and cultures. This will help you understand the city, and seeing different perspectives and experiences will help you, as a journalist, develop your voice. Your outlook on life will become enriched, and when your comfort zone widens, so will your ability to tackle different genres of journalism. You'll find yourself becoming interested in subjects that never suited you before and start to see how important it is to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. It will speak volumes for your career, but most importantly for your character.
Just like Mary Jane is doing this season, your choice to go out on a limb and take responsibility for your own life can be an incredibly powerful experience. Listen to you gut and chase destiny by making decisions that will help you discover or rediscover what made you choose journalism in the first place.