I never dreamed that when I started writing for a seemingly small food website by college students for college students 3 years ago, that I would be so wholly and deeply in love with it.
It was a learning process for sure — I learned how to use WordPress, I learned Oxford commas were a no no, I learned how not to take crappy pictures (shhh, don’t look at my earliest recipes).
I worked with people who are now some of the absolute coolest people I know: my fellow National Contributor Jocelyn Hsu, who’s now a Spoon advisor; Becky Hughes, whose photos for my very standard microwave chia seed oatmeal recipe looked good enough to get included in a BuzzFeed roundup; Rachel Williamson, who’s now killin’ it as the Social Media Director at Spoon HQ and our lovely co-founder Mackenzie Barth, who read some my of first articles and was instrumental in my learning process.
But beyond learning how to write in a different way and being able to express my love of food, I found a family. I found people who were as passionate about food and writing and society as I am, but also people who won’t judge when I’m taking forever to get the perfect Insta shot (because they are too).
And I found my voice. After struggling with an eating disorder, I wrote this article and emailed it to Mackenzie (on Christmas of all things — sorry!), never expecting it to even get published.
But it did. It gained over 40K views in the first couple of days, and the emails and Facebook messages came pouring in.
Not only did people thank me for being brave, but they found the bravery themselves to share their stories with me. And that, more than anything, helped me heal.
But beyond that, writing for Spoon made me realize what I truly love to do. I’d always wanted to be a writer when I was little: I was writing “books” at 8 and giving them to my teachers to critique. I was writing poems at 10 and getting published in the LA Times kids’ section. And, embarrassing, I was even writing fan fiction in high school (not that I’ll ever tell you what my pen name is). I wanted to be a writer, but I got told over and over again that it was a hobby, not a career.
“You won’t make money. So don’t do it,” people said.
So I majored in marketing. And I like it, but I’m always finding myself coming back to writing.
And still, people are telling me no. They don’t think it’s as awesome as I do when I say I write for a national food publication. They don’t obsess over page views like I do. They don’t wake up at 3 am and think of article ideas (and sometimes stay up to write it on their phone). When I say I’m thinking of interning at a magazine or pursuing a career in media, they have this look on their face: a look of silent judgment and quiet disapproval.
But I ask of them, of you and of anyone else who judges media as a career — why would you ask someone to stop pursuing a dream?
It’s not about the money (or potential lack thereof). It’s not about the fame. It’s about finding a voice, about having a voice. It’s about having the power to enact change through your words. It’s about doing what you love, and helping others do what they love as well.
If I stopped every time someone told me no in my life, I would not be where I was today. So what’s stopping me now?
Maybe it’s because I’m young, and I’m afraid of the future. Maybe it’s because a part of me thinks that maybe, yes, I could fail at this. And maybe it’s the classic love vs. riches story — do you choose to follow your heart, or do you choose to guarantee yourself a secure job and life?
I look back on how much I’ve changed (grown) and think about all the people I’ve met along the way who’ve helped shape my writing and myself: Brooke Hamroff, who taught me by example how to be a successful editorial director (and how not to write crappy headlines, holla); Andrea Jacobs, who helped Renzo and I start our very own Spoon chapter at Northeastern; Sarah Adler, who’s shown us all that you can be a killer CTO without majoring in comp sci; Dyan Khor, who is not only a best friend and a roommate but also an awesome article collaborator; and every single person in our Northeastern Spoon chapter, for helping me build this community of like-minded people.
I look back and think about all the amazing opportunities I was able to participate in because of Spoon, from the Brainfood Conference in NYC, to the Spoon Member Summit at Spoon HQ, to being flown out to Sacramento for the California Walnut Harvest Tour… the list goes on and on.
So here’s a thank you to everyone who’s supported me on this journey. Here’s to everyone who told me “yes” when everyone else told me “no.” Here’s to the family I’ve found, to the friends I’m sure I’ll continue to meet. I don’t know if I’ll pursue a career in marketing, or in writing, or in both, but now I know that whichever I choose, I have the strength to pursue it.
Don’t discount your passion because someone tells you it won’t make money. Whether it’s cooking, writing, acting or anything else, if you love it, then know that it’s OK to pursue it.
As Jessie J so wisely says, “It’s not about the money, money, money.”