Life outside of work

Miranda Dotson is an Emmy-award winning news producer with WRAL in Raleigh NC. Previously she worked as an associate producer and then as a news producer at WLOS in Asheville, NC. Miranda received her Master’s in Technology and Communication from UNC’s School of Media and Journalism, and her B.A. in Communication from Wake Forest University.
As you start a new job in any field, nurturing your off-work time is just as important
as excelling in your new career. It can be difficult for anyone to maintain
relationships, friendship and otherwise, while balancing work demands – and that’s
even when you’re off work in time to meet people for happy hour. With the crazy hours and schedules in news, you really have to be creative.

Your family will always be your family, but they need to know right away that you
just won’t be able to come home every holiday or call at 6pm each night. Managing
expectations is key, and it can help avoid some hurt feelings when the holidays roll
around. They won’t be mad at you, per se, but they also may not understand when
you tell them you don’t have a choice in your schedule right now.

With friends and relationships, this is where things can easily get dicey. My best
advice is to not give up, and don’t let your friends give up either. Often times
someone may ask you to hang out, and when the answer has to be “no” enough, the
invites just stop coming. Don’t let that happen! Make sure people you meet know
that you hate missing the time, but tell them to please keep asking. You may also
have to take things into your own hands and start doing the asking when you’re free.
It shows your friends you mean it, and reminds them not to forget to invite you to
things.

How exactly do you meet people? The answers vary, of course, but joining a gym or
going to workout classes can be a good way – or become involved in something you
enjoy. Run clubs, book clubs, you name it and they exist. Think about volunteering
for a cause you care about! Organizations may need someone who’s available those
hours when few other people are. Also check out http://www.meetup.com. Groups there
range from interest, to networking, to singles groups. Meetup is free, unless you’re
attending a specific paid activity, and you can choose to go or not go when you’re
available. I found some good friends this way, and if nothing else, it puts you out
there in the social world a bit. It’s a great jumping off point to connect with people
and then start hanging out with them outside of the organized events.

As for relationships, we’re back to managing expectations (see above). Don’t be
afraid to try out some dating apps or websites – Hinge, Tinder, Match, eHarmony,
etc. It all depends what you’re looking for. I met several great people online, with the
same issue as me – we all had demanding careers and were struggling to find time to
balance the dating scene, too. At the time, I was working nightside, so that meant I
had to tell any potential dates about my odd schedule right away: lunch, anyone?

Everyone I met was really accommodating and wanted to work with my schedule,
and who doesn’t want to date someone with some understanding? So yes, I went on
a lot of lunch dates. And it was really fun! Even with people I only met a few times,
just putting myself out there socially and trying new places around the city was a
good experience. Plus, I found a great guy who actually puts up with the hours and
stress of news, and hasn’t run away yet; can’t beat that.

The biggest risk you face, I think, is to resign yourself to a less-than-ideal schedule
and sit at home alone every day. Not only is that boring, it can lead to bitterness and
burnout very quickly. Balancing your personal and your work time ensures you
enjoy yourself in a new city, get to know your surroundings, and have some fun both
at and OFF work.

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