Eight years ago, I came home and told my mother that I didn’t think I wanted to be an architect anymore. I was in the seventh grade, but I remember telling her this with a sense of urgency. “I have to decide what I want to do for a living soon, mami…”
On that kitchen facing the living room television we had many important conversations. We had a little routine: I would set my backpack down, she would heat up lunch, we would discuss our concerns and share our days, and then sit down and watch the news. That day, like many other days, CNN was on. Just when I thought she wasn’t listening to my precocious career rant, she turned to me and said, “What about that? Journalism. You could be a journalist.”
I don’t think I said anything. Just stared. And that was it.
Whenever I consider the difficulties and uncertainties of this field (yes, I’ve had moments), I tell her, “Pudiste haber sugerido cualquier otra carerra!” (“You could have suggested any other career!)” But she tells me, you would have probably ended here anyway. I just gave you an early start.
I’m privileged to have that memory stored in my mind, and I think of it as the moment when I became a journalist. After that, everything I did more or less centered around this idea of who I wanted to be in society. I consumed news like I ate meals, read a lot, and never stopped writing. Later that year I would find myself highlighting an issue of the newspaper I would eventually intern at.
I know I won’t ever fully understand the significance of that moment. Even now, as I sit in a row house in Washington, D.C., less than twelve hours away from walking through the doors of CNN for the first time.