I Am Bradley Manning

I start this week’s 20Something entry with this thought: Why write if you can’t piss anyone off? What if you write the truth that makes some incredibly angry? You are informing them- isn’t that what proper journalism is about?

I wanted to be a journalist since I could remember. From watching Peter Jennings on ABC’s Nightly News as a toddler to a more recent me reading Anna Wintour’s monthly “Letter from the Editor,” I’ve always been memorized by the intriguing and moving lives of journalists. As I step further into my own writing career, addressing everything from bad press releases to local mix martial arts fights, I know that my career experience hasn’t been filled with drama or danger. There are days, though, where I wish that I was penning articles that could sway minds and could possibly get me in trouble (my thoughts and words, not my grammar and spelling- future editors/employers), how the things I write can make a difference on lives and laws. Writing pieces about bands and places to grab lunch is great- they help expand my resume and pay the bills, but lately, I feel like I haven’t been doing enough. I want to uncover deep secrets and help people see the truth.

Bradley Manning was a solider in the US Army when he reportedly shared government secrets. He was arrested in May 2010 and charged with 22 offenses, including aiding “the enemy.” Edward Snowden worked as an intelligence contractor when he allegedly shared government secrets with Wikileaks. Snowden is currently in hiding; his whereabouts unknown. Online publisher Juilan Assange, the founder of the site Wikileaks that publishes global classified documents and other secret intelligence media, resides in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he still manages his infamous website. Journalist Michael Hastings died in a car accident in Hollywood a week ago. A few days prior to the accident, he emailed his colleagues, saying that the FBI was following him. Conspiracy theorists claim the FBI killed him before he came on to a big, incriminating story. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but to me, these men are my heroes.

The first thing I learned in Journalism 101 was to report the truth, whether you’re someone like Stephen Glass or a government informant. Why tell lies, especially when your readers want to read the truth- the truth that is hurting innocent people and could possibly be stopped? Why are we so scared to reveal these truths? To learn and understand them? Why don’t we really want to see what is going in front of our rose-colored glasses? We have a freedom of speech and a freedom of press so why don’t we use it and persecute those that do? According to Manning, he only wanted people to see the truth; without the truth, one cannot make informed decisions as a public.

True, some information can get into the wrong hands and be exploited. But I do firmly believe as an American citizen, we have the right to know what is going on in the world. In OUR world. I salute those who are brave enough to uncover the truth- those whistleblowers, journalists, hacking bloggers- risking their everything to share the things that know with others. Thank you.

Being Human

“Where do I belong? Where do I fit? Who are my people? Where do my loyalties lie? We all choose our tribe. It’s that need to belong. To live within boundaries. ‘Cause it’s scary on the outside; on the fringes. Some labels are forced on us.  They mark us, set us apart ’til we’re like ghosts, just drifting through other people’s lives. But only if we let the labels hold. You can piss your whole life away trying out who you might be. It’s when you’ve worked out who you are that you can really start to live…”

It may be a silly television show about make-believe characters (a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire) but I have learned a lot about people and about life from “Being Human,” a SyFy Channel series (I highly recommend the show- check your local listings for airdates). I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’ve felt like an outsider most of my life, venturing among different groups looking for my own special place. I can identify with Aiden’s, Sally’s and Josh’s plights- them trying to find their place in the world as they deal with their own set of unique problems. Granted, I’m not a demon (even though I still hang on to my high school fantasy of being a vampire slayer) but lately, I have been struggling with my placement in this life, trying to figure out exactly who I am – am I a devoted ex-girlfriend? A unconcerned daughter? A friend who really doesn’t have friends? A journalist who can’t find work? A lazy dreamer? Who really am I supposed to be? Someone loving and sweet? Someone great and powerful? Someone who is just… human, plain and simple?

I realize that the descriptions that I mentioned above as the labels that I put on myself. Yes, not all the labels stuck on me are negative- I do have a lot of good ones. But it’s those labels that we focus on that, in the end, don’t mean anything. And in the end, I’m Andrea. I’m just Andrea. And that’s enough to pay attention to.

And if anything else, I’m just going to focus on the sexy bloodsucker on my TV screen.

The People in Your Life

“Depend not on fortune, but on conduct.” -Publilius Syrus

Job hunting, well, sucks. It’s a job on its own- spending a good chunk of the day on the computer, searching and emailing; venturing out to random locations to give a 10-minute interview and never hearing back from that interviewer. I’ve actually been lucky this time around. I’ve been getting a bunch of interviews since my searching begun. Last week, I landed a few interviews- one at a semi-fancy restaurant that supports a local non-profit. The interview for the waitressing position lasted a while as we talked about my travels across the country after the questions about my employment history. I left the downtown coffee shop afterward feeling great- I was convinced that I landed the job.

My interviewer emailed me later that day, writing that I was overqualified for the position. However, he was impressed with both my resume and my story and thought that I was too talented to ignore. So, he forwarded my resume to his friend’s public relations firm who had a marketing position open (long story short- I applied for that position but I didn’t get it). Nevertheless, I thought the act of forwarding my resume was an incredibly kind and generous thing to do and I was grateful.

I listened to this Ted Talk a few weeks ago about expanding your circle and keeping in contact with people you thought you would never be friends/acquaintances with. These people might help you along in the quest of life in finding work, forming a future romantic relationship, etc. I remember once introducing an old co-worker to a friend-of-a-friend and now, they’re married with two kids. It helps to be friendly and open-minded. You may never know why that person is in your life, after all.

Sure, there are people come in and out of your life for a short moment. We must remember that they come in for a reason- perhaps to assist you in some way or another by giving you love or friendship (or an employment opportunity!). There’s also the lessons that we learn from those who do come into our lives. Think about how valuable those lessons truly are- I think about the lessons I just learned today: do your best to remember names… Don’t waste a sunny day… Kindness towards your barista can result in a free muffin.

I encourage you, dear reader, to be like my interview last Tuesday and do your part to spread kindness and help someone’s journey. I just hope that one day, I can pay the kind gesture forward- maybe just by sending a simple email.