By Lauren Tara LaCapra
Leaving something comfortable is a gutsy thing to do, even when you’re comfortably numb.
I’ve done it a few times in my life and career, and no matter how many times you do it, it never becomes less scary.
When I was a teenager, I packed up and left home because it was the only way I’d have a shot at success. It was extremely difficult to do: I was 17 years old without a clear idea of where I would live, how I would fund my existence or even where I’d put all my stuff. But I was surrounded by bad circumstances at home, and knew I needed to leave to make it on my own.
And I did.
I have been the sole caretaker of Lauren Tara LaCapra since then. I paid my way through college, with scholarships and multiple jobs. I got internships and built a professional network for myself. No one handed me anything. I was my own best advocate, establishing a career through a combination of merit, luck and maybe a little charm.
The best decisions I’ve made in that career came under similar circumstances. I might have been bored, unhappy — perhaps even miserable — in a job. But there was a level of comfort in the consistency. Leaving meant taking a risk, and it takes guts to do that.
Perhaps the most daring career choice I made was in early 2008, when I had an opportunity to move from an Established News Organization to a website that wasn’t quite new but still had a startup vibe. I was cautioned against such a move by journalism elders who did not see the value. Some even thought it might hurt my career.
But ultimately, I took the job, and it was perhaps the best career choice I’ve made. It allowed me to cover huge financial firms in the middle of the crisis and the ensuing bailouts. I never would have gotten that opportunity if I had stayed at a bigger news organization, where someone with limited experience and knowledge of finance would not have been trusted to cover such massive events. I worked hard as an underdog, establishing sources, breaking news occasionally and writing analysis that was valuable for readers. Of course, the experience itself was incredibly valuable for me, and gave me the grounding to do what I do now.
Who knows what the future holds? But I’ll always listen to my guts.
Lauren Tara LaCapra has been writing about big banks since 2008 and is currently the team leader of financial services coverage for Reuters in the Americas. Before that, she worked at TheStreet, the Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal, and was a New York Times scholar. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner Geoffrey and two adorable pups, Captain and Tallulah.