News & Classical Music from Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Essay: Fast-Paced Life

A while ago, I met a young reporter at Interlochen Public Radio and we became friends.

At lunch one day, I asked about her plans for the future. I assumed she was on her way to a bigger station in a bigger city.

Her answer surprised me.

“I don’t want a fast-paced life,” she said and I almost objected, almost said, “But you’re so talented, so good at this job. You can really go far.”

Instead, I asked her to tell me more.

We expect young people to be ambitious, focused on success as defined by money and status.

Certainly that was expected of me. “You’ll make it,” my father often said which meant I hadn’t made it yet, which meant I had to keep climbing.

There’s an assumption that everyone’s career goal is a promotion—with more responsibility, prestige, power. Nobody asked me how I defined success, not even me.

Now I’m listening to this young reporter who knows so much more about who she is and where she’s going than I did at her age.

“I want a small house and a big garden,” she said. A year later she had left the station and the area.

Sometimes I still hear her on the radio, but I hope she’s mostly in her garden.

Karen Anderson is a writer who lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan. She was a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 30 years and published two collections.