GUEST COLUMN: Students, be true to yourself
There is one lesson I didn’t learn in high school, didn’t learn at CMU and, for decades, didn’t learn in life -- anxiety can eat you alive.
I arrived at CMU in the fall of 1987, and from the start, saw myself as an overachiever.
I was in the Marching Band (Fire Up Chips!). I worked at the library media center. I worked at News Central as a writer, reporter, anchor and producer. I was vice president of the National Broadcasting Society as a sophomore and president as a junior and senior.
Journalism is a great career for an overachiever. You can work 24 hours a day if you want. You can hang out at stakeouts all night long. You can chase breakers any time day or night.
If you want to be the best, you do this. You do it for pride. You do it because it’s in your blood.
I have had an extremely successful career as a journalist. After graduating CMU in May of 1991, I was a reporter at an NBC affiliate in Traverse City, a producer at a CBS affiliate in San Diego, a producer in the big city of Chicago at WGN news at 9, an executive producer of the 10 p.m. news at CBS and a platform manager and content producer at NBC.
I won six Emmy awards and countless nominations. I actually taught broadcasting classes at the College of DuPage. I guest lectured at Notre Dame, Holy Cross, UM-Flint, Northeastern and North Park.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this overachieving, I realized something. I was freaking out. I had placed such a burden on myself that keeping that expectation alive was literally killing me. My anxiety was out of control. I began to fear the things I had been great at.
My advice to you, the student, is to be true to yourself. There is such a thing as pushing yourself too hard— and you will pay for it. If you think you need to see a doctor to talk about your anxiety, do it. It doesn’t mean you are weak, it means you are smart.
If you need a “me” day to lock yourself in the basement and play your guitar, take it. Life is short … and depression can ruin it.
I have had nothing but success because of CMU. The work ethic this school instills in you more than prepares you for real life.
CMU is a wonderful place. Unlimited opportunities are all around you. But, the most important lesson you can learn is to love yourself. You are not a machine. Breathe. Live in the moment you are in, not the past, not the future.
I loved my time at CMU, and I have loved the career CMU has afforded me. But I wish someone had taken the time to teach me to love myself. You matter. Just the way you are.
David Parrish, a 1991 CMU alumnus, is a six-time Emmy winner and platform manager and content producer at NBC 5 in Chicago.