Why I Left My Job As A Reality TV Producer To Teach English in Korea

I loved working in television and I busted my ass for years to get to a certain point but, change changes things and my heart moved on to other things. Here are a few reasons why I stopped working in television and moved to South Korea….

I was the unhealthiest I’ve ever been.

Behind the smiley set photos, I was actually dealing with a massive amount of anxiety and stress while working in television. I want to be clear, I was good at my craft and I always came through. If you wanted a pink elephant tomorrow at 12pm in the middle of Times Square, I’d figure it out. I love being in a position where I have to think on my toes and be prepared for the unexpected but, as a freelancer, I could lose my job at any moment because of the slightest mistake.  There’s always someone ready to take your place in that world.  Here’s an even worse scenario that has happened to me several times –  the network can decide to pull a show from production and tell you today is your last day. No warning, no severance, nothing. You’re done. I actually got used to this after a while. Unemployment can feel nice for the first month but after that you’re a stress-ball that needs to find work and will take any show that comes up regardless if you think it’s a stupid show.

When I was working, I was working really long hours and not taking care of myself.  I gained about 45 pounds in one year from eating on the road as well as stress eating and drinking. I felt it and my body and mind were crying for help. I developed hypertension and became pre-diabetic in the matter of months. I wasn’t taking care of myself and I wasn’t happy.

I knew that being in Korea would give me a change of pace and enough time outside of work to focus on self-care. My hope is to develop healthy habits that I can continue wherever I go.

Speaking of sociopaths, people in Reality TV can be assholes.

Most people who work in television have good intentions. Many people fell into TV because they studied film and wanted to make movies. Others, like myself, wanted to make documentaries and use the form of media to inform the world of important topics to decrease the level of ignorance in the world – making it a better place. But there’s a whole other type and they’re usually the boss. These are the people that have moved up by knocking people down with a smile on their face. I have a million stories about people like this but just trust me when I say, it’s ugly. I needed to get away from that.

The benefits are not endless (that’s a NBPR inside joke for my NB peeps).

90% of freelancing gigs do not offer health insurance or any other benefits and Obamacare still has some serious flaws. I had health insurance as soon as I got off the plane in Korea. I pay $30 a month for my insurance in Korea instead of the $350/month that I paid in the US.

I make my decisions based on what I will regret the most.

When I was in college I really wanted to study abroad in Spain. I dreamt of classes interrupted by siesta time, drinking sangria with a hot Spaniard under the moonlight and walking home along cobblestone roads. I convinced some friends to study abroad in Spain with me- I was too scared to go on my own. I was excited that they were on board until they changed their minds. I never went to Spain and it’s the biggest regret of my life.

When going to Korea became an option I kept thinking, what will I regret the most – going, or staying. I felt strongly that I would regret it if I stayed in TV. At the end of the day, I felt I could always go back to working in TV. I’m also getting old and my life could change at any moment. Korea wouldn’t always be an option for me. So I chose Korea.

My Passion for travel became stronger than my passion to move up in the television world.

I was working for Al Roker Productions when I almost lost my Dad to a botched surgery. I had to quit my job to help my mom deal with legal and making decisions on my father’s behalf. This completely changed my perspective and really, it changed the course of my life. I felt like I needed to LIVE more. I wanted to travel and see the world but I didn’t know how to do it on my own.

A few gigs later, I met a producer (who I still think is one of the most amazing people I’ve known) who nonchalantly mentioned a safari trip to Africa that she went on by herself. I thought, ‘you just went by yourself, on this safari??? Like, without not one friend????’ I thought that was so cool and I realized that I could do that too. That’s when I got my passport and left for my first trip out of the country. I fell in love with travel. I fell in love with learning about other cultures. I fell in love with language and art and nature. I fell in love and I didn’t want to stop. I still don’t.

Being in Korea allows me to not only travel around the country, but it gives me a home-base to travel throughout Asia.

I wanted to buy myself some time, in a neutral place, where I could figure out what I really want.

Successful women who work in television make some serious sacrifices. They put off starting families, they spend a lot of time away from their kids and they work really, really, really hard to make it all work. I’m just not sure I’m willing to make those sacrifices anymore.

I knew that being in New York, I’d keep getting sucked into the TV world. I DO love it. It’s seriously a bad romance. A sick tango, a push and pull – my relationship with television. I’m getting older and I needed to get away, far away to find out what I really want for my future.

In Korea, I’m living rent free and I’m not too concerned about money. I’m able to think clearly without the influence of having to work in television for survival. If I end up back in TV, it will be a well thought out choice with a plan.  It’s important to me to take my time and weigh my options.

Because I can.

No husband, no kids. Why the fuck not???

 

 

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