Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kicking The Habit

Today I read something that gave me hope.  A young, attractive, destined-for-greatness news anchor, 28-year-old Laura Diaz, Orlando’s WKMG morning news anchor since 2007, announced this week that she’s leaving television, claiming the emotional toll was too much for her to continue.

Read Laura's story here

“I don’t think I can do television anymore,” Diaz admitted in the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s just a lot of pressure. I got into it young. I moved up quickly. It’s really a tough job to do. You have to have a certain thick skin.”

Diaz has been living the dream of many young people for a very short time, having started just a few years ago in the business, rising quickly to KTVE-KARD in Monroe, LA, where she served as the evening news anchor before returning to her hometown of Orlando and WKMG.  It's a meteoric rise which could make any young person's head spin.  Some could handle it, some could not, some would sabotage the opportunity, others would relish it and thrive.  But very few would ever take the moment to reflect on weather they actually belonged there or not.  This is what Diaz has done, and done so boldly.

I'm sure everyone remembers Brian Dunkleman, the co-host of the original season of "American Idol" who left the show citing 'creative differences' and claiming he didn't want to be a part of that scene - who later admitted it was the dumbest thing he'd ever done.  Other famous quitters include Jackie Martling of the Howard Stern Show, Andy Richter of The Conan O'Brian Show, Mclean Stevenson of M*A*S*H fame and David Caruso who left after the first season of NYPD Blue to pursue a movie career.  All of the above examples believed that - based on their perceived self-importance - they could do better.

What Ms. Diaz is saying is that she has done the best she can and it doesn't fit with who she is as a person. She is - at 28 years old - knowing herself enough to put down the microphone and focus on what is most important to her, understanding her true place in the world.

“I’m too down-to-earth to be an on-air personality,"  Diaz explained,  "There’s a lot of wondering in my mind and heart. I don’t want to wait another 10 years and be too far in my career to make a switch.”

Trust me - being on television is like smoking crack (although I've never smoked crack, you get it).  The more you have the more you want.  As you get more attention, and people begin to respond to you in new and exciting ways, the lure of the job becomes intense.  Like any career you want to do your best and rise through the ranks, but with a television career that rise is intensified by fan clubs, people stopping you on the street to say they love you, and all the the other trappings fame (even local news personalities - type fame) can bring you.  Who would give that up?

Laura Diaz.  She took a long hard look at herself and realized that the person she is does not fit the person she's being and she made a change.

The reaction I've been reading has been mixed.  Some hungry news people incredulous at the thought of her leaving, some others praising her wisdom.  But the bottom line is when you can look at yourself in the mirror and realize that the addiction you harbor no longer serves who you truly are inside, and you can kick that habit with no regrets or remorse, but instead be at peace with yourself, you are truly knowing yourself, and not being a no to your possibilities.

Bravo, Ms. Diaz.  Thank you for setting an example for the rest of us.

Know yourself, Don't NO Yourself

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