The hallway never looked so long.
As I descend it one final time, the images begin rushing through my head.
Walking out at 6 a.m. after an overnight shift. Running up the ramp at 8 a.m. after a morning yoga class. Chit-chatting with my friends while walking to Starbucks.
And the solo treks to Building 11, where I’d circle the desks of the people I hoped to be one day. The feature producers, the Emmy winners, the storytellers. After that, I’d go to Studio Z, seating myself in the anchor’s chair, envisioning telling the stories that moved people, that impacted them, that changed them.
Then, the trips to Las Vegas. The fancy hotel in New York’s West End. Standing on the field at Fenway Park.
Those were good days.
But, in today’s climate, for me at least, those days are gone. The circumstances changed. My future there, once full of promise, came to a screeching halt.
And that I cannot accept.
So, I’m leaving ESPN.
It’s not an easy decision. I’ve loved that place. I’ve sacrificed for it. I met amazing colleagues, got coffee with executives and worked on big shows with big, important people.
But it’s just not for me anymore.
Working until 3 a.m. and waking up at 9 isn’t right. I know what makes me happy. I need routine, consistency. I want to build my work around my life, not my life around my work. If no one else will put me first, then I have to.
I can’t be “on” all the time anymore. And the morning, that most sacred time for me? I need that back.
This time next week, I’ll be in Denver, waking up early, coffee in hand, writing. Or reading. Or stretching. That’s the point -- it will be my choice. No thoughts of an overnight shift later. No pressure from a national audience. My mind clutter-free and ready to attack things I care about.
I’d had that at ESPN. At one point, I was content. If the status quo remained unchanged, I might have stayed a decade, maybe two, taking my family to Disney World every summer like all the others.
I used to ask colleagues if they regretted staying so long, if they ever dreamt of doing what I’m about to do: give up a stable job and a reliable paycheck at a massive corporation. And to take a chance on themselves and start over.
Many of them said yes.
I can’t let that be me. I won’t let that be me. So, this chapter is over. I've got to move on. But my story? My narrative? It's mine to tell.
And no one else's.
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