OPINION COLUMNS

Keeping Austin Weird: Shoot your shot

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, February 16, 2019
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Taking the plunge into the unknown for the sake of passion is a scary thing.

Some jump and get smacked by the cruel, unrelenting fist of reality. Others leap and find themselves riding high along a rewarding pursuit of doing what they love.

Austin Jackson

This week I met stand-up comedian, William Lee Martin, who gave up a career in advertising to pursue comedy.

He lost his house and his truck at the start, but he stuck with it, eventually creating a career doing something he loves.

For the past 23 years, he’s made it. The start was dicey, but since taking the leap, he’s done specials on CMT and opened for country music stars in front of 75,000 people. He’s a working comic.

Success and fame wasn’t why he did it. He did it because it made him proud of who he was. For the first time, after nine years of working a desk job, he said he could stand to look at himself in the mirror again.

In 2012, he founded a nonprofit that gives cowboy hats to kids battling cancer, an inspirational act that has made the world a little bit better place for more than 8,000 kids. You can read more about that on page 1. But as I was taking notes, I couldn’t help but be wowed seeing someone take the plunge and stick the landing.

I’m midleap myself – a fellow jumper, who took the plunge for an endeavor into the unknown.

On my walkabout between Baylor University and the University of North Texas, I was completely lost. I had been an accounting major, an entrepreneurship major and I had a little political science/pre-law stint as well.

I struggled. I just couldn’t envision myself in that suit and the shiny shoes. It showed in my grades and attendance. But a career as a waiter didn’t seem enticing either. So I went home and did some soul searching.

I started taking classes at a commmunity college and took a shot at a creative writing class.

The feeling of putting words on paper and having strangers read them and not immediatly gag or fall asleep became a rush, an addiction I couldn’t kick.

The rush followed me as I walked across campus at UNT to switch my major from general studies to journalism, and then resulted in enough brazen confidence to choose print and digital media as my focus.

Now, after getting a few jobs in journalism, I feel like the leap was worth it. I shot my shot, and the fist of reality hasn’t smacked me yet. I get to do what I love.

Considering the widespread layoffs across news organizations, I’m sure a career in this field will be anything but smooth. But so far, I think it’s worth taking the leap, truck and house be darned.

Austin Jackson is a Messenger reporter.

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