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What To Do When Your Dream Isn't "It"

Allie and I met at a networking event during my first year back in Greenville as a YoPro. When we realized we were involved in many of the same groups in the city and were living in the same apartment complex, we became friends and I quickly learned what makes Allie’s career so inspiring. Now in the nonprofit world, Allie wasn’t always interested in getting into this field. Once a journalism major on a straight path to reporting, Allie shares her story today about why change is inevitable, so don’t just limit yourself to one career path.


I was the 10-year-old girl who knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. So much so, I would “practice” every weekend with a make-shift desk in my basement. I'd have two stacked mattresses as my anchor desk and scribbled words on wide-ruled notebook paper as my teleprompter. Sometimes my dad would let me borrow the video camera. Other times I’d pretend it was there. Imaginary or not, those things were all I needed, when striving to be the best news reporter in Cumming, Georgia.

That passion never faded. I proudly chose to attend the University of Georgia, knowing exactly what my major was going to be, promising my parents that I would never change it. And I didn’t. After countless hours spent in the UGA newsroom and a couple of unpaid news internships, I was on my way to living in the real world as a reporter. I knew I was destined to be a news reporter when I walked across the graduation stage to receive my degree in Digital and Broadcast Journalism.

After what seemed like two years searching for jobs (it was just two months), a news station in Alabama called me to invite me for an interview. It went well. A few weeks later, I packed up my life in Georgia and moved 400 miles away to lower Alabama by myself. I didn’t know a soul but that didn’t matter, because my dream…was happening.

For about a year, I was "living the dream." But then during that year, something began stirring inside of me that didn’t feel right. Maybe that feeling was triggered by the many times I was called at 3 AM to cover a homicide, flood, or fire, all heartbreaking. Was this the dream I had been hoping for all along? I wrestled with that feeling and tried to push it away, but it only grew stronger. I won’t use the word "nightmare" because that seems dramatic, but there was a pivotal moment in my career where I realized that what I had worked so hard for was not what I thought it would be. I realized news reporting wasn’t glamorous and it never will be. Simply put, the job was really hard, emotionally, and physically. I didn’t want to be that annoying millennial new employee who complained about work and wanted to go home. I had been through too many other things to give up on this profession. I signed a 3-year contract and planning on sticking to my word.

I stayed three years, but knew deep down, the last two years had shown me news reporting wasn’t for me anymore. Detaching myself from a news-reporter-identity was harder than the job itself. Questions swirled around in my mind like, "If I can’t do this, what can I do? If I’m not a reporter, who am I? What are people going to think if I’m not a reporter anymore? and what other jobs are there, anyway?"

It was torture. I hadn’t bothered to learn about any other jobs because I had been laser-focused on ONE. And then that fell apart. With this, my identity had been so wrapped up in being a reporter, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I couldn’t separate who I was from what I did. My crisis led me to an inevitable transition to another job and another work field.

To present-day. I now work in marketing at a local non-profit. It honestly scares me because I’m learning through experience instead of in a classroom. It’s light-years away from what 10-year-old-Allie thought she would be doing at 26-years-old. Leaving the news industry seemed nearly impossible. How could I leave behind all of the back-breaking hard work I poured into news all those years? After moving to Greenville with my husband, I remember struggling to write a resume that wasn’t filled with news jargon. Non-journalism job descriptions seemed like they were in a foreign language. I nearly caved and applied to the local news station because I truly believed there was nothing else I was capable of doing. But I knew I would have been miserable. My hardships led me to dig deeper into learning about my faith.

So, here’s what I learned from my experience as a reporter and from transitioning out of that identity:

    Your job can’t be the only thing that fulfills you.

    Chasing more work for satisfaction is like being on a hamster wheel. You’ll go around and around until you’re worn out, and you’ve gone nowhere.

    Learn about yourself. Spend time with just yourself in doing something you love.

    There has to be something else in your life you like more than work.

    There’s nothing wrong with being successful, but there is something wrong with measuring your worth by your work success.

    Whatever you do in this world, it will matter.

    You must detach yourself from work every day. Some parts of your day (when you’re awake) should be dedicated to you.

    Your skills are transferable. Everything you learn in one job can help you in another.

    Change is inevitable. It’s ok, just roll with it.

Life looks different through the lens of a young professional. The stories I covered in news broadcasting made it very clear for me to prioritize understanding my humanness. I make mistakes, I don’t always know what’s next for me, and I can’t predict the future. As a type-A leader, that’s a hard pill for me to swallow. I don’t regret trying my best to become a reporter. It taught me that I’m a daughter, wife, friend, and human-being before I’m anything else. It also taught me how to be ok with change. No matter the position, all jobs help us discover our given talents. And now, my coworkers see me for my talents and not for how much work I churn out. This life wasn’t my lifelong "plan,” but it’s wonderful.

So, if I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d tell her this: “Keep rehearsing that show. Keep striving towards your dream. Keep trying your best. Things may change but whatever your goal is now, give it your all. It’s worth it to be the best version of yourself.”

The YoPro Know's Takeaways:

– Look at other job opportunities; don’t just fixate on one

– Your job can’t be the only thing that fulfills you

– Change is inevitable and that’s okay, just roll with it

Connect with the author here: Allie Van Dyke

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