Former TV Reporter’s Letter to Self

Dear future Joyce,

A month ago, you left your dream job. It still feels surreal. So much, that it took you this long to tell many people about it.

As of this writing, you’re in a good place. You just got a new puppy. You’re in a very happy relationship. And you’re finally able to take your much-needed break. But somehow, you also feel very anxious about leaving your first love and starting a new chapter.

First love

In an interview before joining Solar News Channel (now CNN Philippines) about ten years ago, your former bosses asked you if you could see yourself spending the next 20 years of your life as a journalist. Very quickly— and with conviction— you said yes. You couldn’t see yourself doing anything else. They asked you why you want to be a journalist. You said because you want to help educate the public. You want to help them make better informed choices through your stories. You believe it’s your life’s purpose: to make this world a better place, one story at a time.

Solar News and, eventually, CNN Philippines allowed you to live your dreams. Every day, you got to listen to and tell the story of the Filipino. From feel-good stories about people who survived this pandemic by helping each other, to heartbreaking ones like the deaths of so many people killed senselessly.

You especially enjoyed covering politics. You were always in your element when you were doing fieldwork in Batasan or in the Senate. It thrilled you to ask politicians difficult questions that made them stammer and uncomfortable. You passionately enjoyed speaking truth to power. There were even some very lucky moments, when you were able to break some exclusive stories that set the agenda and landed on the headlines of other news companies.

But there were also a lot of dark moments. There were times when you got very depleted, when both your stories and capabilities were questioned, when you were told you’re not responsible enough, not mature enough, not good enough. You wanted to fight, but the fire in you was slowly fading. During times like those, you always went back to your ‘why’. Why you wanted to be a journalist. You always told yourself it’s not about you, it’s about the people around you. Then the fire would start to glow again, and you lived to fight for another day. Over and over and over again.

Until nothing was left of you. The dark moments turned into a dark period. Eventually, you were diagnosed with Anxiety and Depressive Disorder. It was a long and difficult battle. You wanted to hold on and keep fighting. Which you did. Many times, you succeeded. But many times, you also fell and struggled very hard to stand up again.

And that was when you knew it was time to leave.

But of course, saying goodbye wasn’t easy. How do you even say goodbye to your first love? How do you say goodbye to your bosses and superiors, who believed in you since Day 1? How do you say goodbye to your beatmates-turned-friends, who made every excruciatingly long legislative hearing fun with their mere presence? How do you say goodbye to your colleagues who became your chosen family through the years?

You initially wanted to write a goodbye letter to all of them – to bosses, colleagues, friends, and even to your hopes and dreams. But you couldn’t. Then you figured, you didn’t need to. Because you plan on keeping them all with you – the lessons from your bosses, the happy memories with your colleagues, the meaningful bond with your friends, and the passion to continue living your hopes and dreams. You’re keeping them all, not just for twenty years, but for the rest of your life.

Leaving CNN Philippines was a difficult but a necessary decision. But for the first time in your life, you finally chose to prioritize yourself. You finally learned how to say no. And you finally saw your true worth. And I hope you don’t ever forget that.

Love,

Joyce

April 1, 2021

PS. A couple of days from now, you officially start a new career. People will no longer see you on TV BUT you get to tell their stories again. And you’re very very excited!

About the Author

Joyce Ilas joined the media industry immediately after college in 2010. She started as a reporter for RPN from June 2010 to April 2011, then joined Solar News in June 2011 until it transitioned from Nine News to CNN Philippines. Joyce specialized in political journalism, covering the House of Representatives beat and the Senate beat. She also played a major role in the 2013, 2016, 2019 election coverage of Solar News and CNN Philippines.

She now works with the Ateneo School of Government, leading the Communications Team for Project Participate. It’s a non-partisan, non-profit movement dedicated to engage and strengthen political participation in the Philippines, especially this coming 2022 elections.

Joyce has a Master’s degree in Public Administration, Major in Public Policy from UP Diliman.

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