A few weeks ago, Schreyer for Women took a “field trip” to see Lynsey Addario speak, in lieu of our usual weekly meeting. I meant to blog about this the week it happened, but my thoughts got away from me. Lynsey was awesome – no other word for it – and although I’m not interested in being a photojournalist, I took a ton of good career and life lessons away from her experiences. She was so inspiring that I’m currently reading the book she centered her talk around called “It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War”. I’m so excited that this was the Penn State Reads book for this year, as it truly embodied what it means to pioneer your own path and confront challenges head-on.
The pieces of her story that struck me the most were the moments where she unabashedly and bravely just “went for it”. She moved to Argentina to kick start her professional career and had to beg the Buenos Aires Herold for a job for weeks. I think there’s a tendency for women to feel like their bothering people when they repeatedly ask someone for something. Just this week, I felt weird and nervous calling an employer back after I hadn’t heard from him. In the future, I’m going to channel my inner Lynsey and never hesitate to pick up the phone and call. It’s naïve to think that the things we want in life will come to us; Lynsey’s story showed me that more often than not we have to persevere and work for them.
Another small yet impactful story was how Lynsey snuck into Sudan to cover a story. She showed up in Chad and hopped into the back of a pickup truck to ride across the border to meet a group of rebels on the other side. She mentioned this as an offhand comment, and it seemed crazy to me. Her mix of spontaneity, bravery, and pure guts makes her so good at what she does. It makes me think about where my strengths are as an adventurer and how I can leverage those to make my career impactful both for me and the populations I serve.
Lynsey also made some great points about balancing work life with love. She has an inherently risky job, and every time she leaves her family there is the chance it will be awhile until she can reunite with them. As I start to transition out of college, I’m starting to feel the tension between taking an opportunity half way across the world that is exciting to me and staying closer to home and the people I love. At the end of the day, it comes down to what I want and what the opportunity could mean for me in terms of personal development.