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Passion.

Do you ever feel like you’ve forgotten why you do what you do? You just go through the motions, you get lazy, you settle for mediocrity.

And then something just kicks in — BAM! — and you’re back.

That moment came not too long ago when I was glancing at my friend Clay’s photoblog (if you haven’t check it out, you should, because he is awesome). In my reminiscing ways, I clicked on the “previous posts” button until I got to last summer’s work. I found his list of 100 things he loved about his job, which reminded me of my own 100 things I loved about my job.

I reread it. I laughed at memories. I wished I could have some days and some assignments back again.

And it made me think. Why did I get into this business in the first place? Why did I want to be a journalist? What came before the idealistic “I’m going to help save journalism” rants and the college journalism woes and the industry/future job prospects worries?

I had become boring in the last six months. I went through the motions. I did what was expected, but I didn’t strive for something more. But why do I have to strive for something more?

Flashback. I pick up a copy of the December 2003 issue. There it is. A simple byline. “By Jessica Estepa.” I’m 15. It is an awful story about National Compliment Day. It doesn’t really have a point to it.

But it’s mine. It’s something I produced, something I’m proud of. I had told a story through pen and paper (or rather, a tabloid-sized school newspaper). People would going to read it. Maybe someone would care.

Another flashback. My final column of my junior year in high school printing in the last issue. I declare we students were going to go through the firsts of everything, from cars to jobs to disappointments. A friend comes up to me. He tells me that he had cried when he read my words, that his class had been touched.

Yet another flashback. I grab a couple papers to drop off for the mother of a soldier I had written a story about. I arrive at her house, knock on her door. She opens it, grin on her face.

“Thank you,” she says. “Thank you.”

Final flashback. Wednesday morning. Glancing through my e-mail. I receive a message from a representative of the Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada. She thanks me for my story of the “sexting” town hall meeting the night before. She says she’s impressed by my coverage.

I smile.

I remember.

At the end of the day, I remain a storyteller. I want the stories I tell to connect with people. I don’t care if those stories are through words, picture, video, audio. A story is a story, and if it your story or my story or a stranger’s story, then it deserves to be told.

Journalism is my passion. Good journalism is my goal. No amount of PR work will kill that part of me, and the lack of job prospects won’t make me quit. I chose this path years ago, and I’m sticking to it.

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